When you believe in yourself, you have faith and are determined to succeed, nothing will get in your way to reach your goals. This is exactly what Ezette Coetzee did to become the first ever veterinary nurse in South Africa known to write and pass the National Veterinary Technician Exam (NVTE) in the United States, generally known as the boarding exam. She got accepted for the NVTE in North Dakota through the American Association of Veterinary State Boards in 2017 and completed and passed the exam in November 2018. This also meant that she received a license to practice in the State of North Dakota, USA.
This extraordinary achievement, however, did not come easy for 29 year-old Ezette who in 2017 also completed her Diploma in Veterinary Nursing at the Faculty’s Onderstepoort Campus. There were huge setbacks and obstacles which changed her life. On her return from her visit to the USA in 2018 she was diagnosed with an extra-large Atrial Septum Defect which led to open heart surgery during which specialist surgeons built a septum using a pericardium patch. She was also involved in a horrific accident which she miraculously survived. For that she is really thankful: “God has a plan for everyone, even for me and He saved me more than once this year. We do not always understand or agree with things happening in the moment but if you look back you are thankful that you were not the one in control.”
During the same year Ezette worked as locum at the Bult Animal Clinic in Potchefstroom, followed by three months of locum at the Faculty’s Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital (OVAH) in the ICU as day and night sister.
Born to her parents, Dries and Marietjie Coetzee in 1989, she grew up in Potchefstoom and matriculated in 2007 at Hoër Volkskool Potchefstroom. In 2008 she enrolled at the University of North West’s Potchefstroom Campus where in 2012 she finished her Bachelor’s Degree in Recreation and Tourism.
In 2013 she became restaurant, stable and operational manager at the Khumula Game Lodge and was part of an Agricultural Exchange Program with the US in 2014 which brought her to the Keller Broken Heart Ranch in North Dakota. In 2015 she also did a course in Artificial Insemination and pregnancy awareness in cattle.
She describes her veterinary nursing studies at the Faculty from 2016 to 2017 as “an amazing experience and I am proud to say that I have learned from the best.” According to Ezette, a highlight of her career so far was undoubtedly her opportunity to work in the USA in 2014. “Working on the Keller Broken Heart Ranch as an exchange student alongside Dwight and Susan Keller and their 3 children, changed me as a person for the better. Dr Susan Keller is an amazing veterinarian and very loving, caring, passionate and kind but also humble towards animals and people”, she says.
Dr Susan Keller (left) of the Keller Broken Heart Ranch and Sr Ezette Coetzee
According to Ezette, Dr Keller - who she sees as an exceptional role model, mentor and life coach -saw her ambition and compassion for animals and taught her a lot about life and animal orientated skills. Dr Keller, a State Veterinarian in North Dakota, inspired her to enrol in a course where she learned how to care and improve animal and public health. It was also Dr Keller (left in the picture) who, throughout her two years of study at OP, never stopped to support and motivate her and checking in to make sure everything is fine with her.
Click here to see Ezette's official certificate