*So I actually wrote this month’s ago but with the hussle of summer it just sat and the blog was forgotten. So this is my jump back onto the blog.
The days rush by without much thought given to what got me to this place…this profession… this life. I remember the first day of orientation at vet school with around 100 other persons that too “had wanted to be a veterinarian when they grew up”. Some had applied and failed to become accepted to veterinary school multiple times yet kept trying and now finally realized their dream. Some had a father or relative that was a veterinarian. Others had a clear idea of just the type of veterinarian they would become… a pathologist or researcher maybe.
Iowa State University’s Gentle Doctor
Here stood over one hundred people that had been asked and answered “Why do you want to be a veterinarian?”. For most it wasn’t just a job or something to do to make some money as an adult. “Why do you want to BE a veterinarian?” To be… to make this education and skill part of your being, part of yourself.
“It was a calling.”
That is what many of my colleagues say when they discuss why they became a veterinarian. “Something called me to this profession.”
Here stood a diverse group of people… some from cities, some from the smallest rural towns. Some wore stylish skirts and designer shoes, others Wrangler jeans and dusty, worn cowboy boots. Some had barely touched a cow while some lived in a barn as a child. Some wanted to do research…to study disease and help society. Some wanted to work in zoos, or with just cats, or just horses. The thing that united us…we wanted to be veterinarians.
I had always had a love of animals and like most kids had declared “I want to be a veterinarian when I grow up.” I would visit the book mobile that made regular trips to our small town. The bus-like mini-library would park just in front of the bank, close enough to walk to in our small town. I would search thru the shelves for books especially about animals and caring for them. The librarian quickly learned my interests and would take my requests and bring books just for me, little but mighty gifts, all mine for the month.
In third grade, I found the book “The Making of a Woman Vet”. I remember laying in bed reading this thick, hard covered book with the clear protective jacket. On the cover was a smiling confident young lady, with her doctorly white lab coat and stethoscope around her neck. She had a bird perched on her shoulder and her arm around a dog, a sure sign of her love for all animals. I couldn’t really read all the words but that book lit the flame of career exploration. I wanted to become a veterinarian.
I studied hard and got good grades. I became involved in clubs and organizations. I went to college and then the opportunity to attend graduate school came about. There came a fork in the road… follow the path to that original childhood dream or continue in the area of research. I took the vet path, applying to vet school and starting in the fall of 2006.
In 2012, I returned to western North Dakota, to my home community, to practice veterinary medicine. It wasn’t too long after I had started when I opened the exam room to find a friendly, familiar face. On the exam table between us was a portly stray cat she had taken in and brought to me for veterinary care.
As we spoke, her eyes lit up and she asked me, “Are you that little blond girl that used to come to the book mobile and always got animal books?” With a recognition that came with context I said “Yes”. So began a discussion as she recognized the little blond girl now grown and living her dream of being a veterinarian. That librarian had since retired but a joy came as she spoke about how glad she was to have helped shape my learning and passion.
I was touched to have met again and been able to tell her how her small, kind gestures and attention to my interests had helped fan the flame and fueled a passion. If she had only known, all those years ago, when she stamped that due-return-by date for the book with the confident young woman veterinarian on its cover, how influential she would be.
“In my element-living the dream”
Despite long years in school with the potential for massive student loan debt, there is still that calling for many young people to serve the animals entrusted to us and the people that love and/or care for them. While the days can be long, the stress great, and the hurts upon my heart scarring this really is my calling. Every day brings new challenges, excitements, smiles and sometimes tears.
“There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It is why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.”