Shanna, 25 years old, is originally from New Brunswick. She attended Mount Allison University for three years, where she started a bachelor of science degree in biology with a minor in commerce. She attended veterinary school in PEI at the Atlantic Veterinary College and currently works as a vet in a mixed animal practice in rural Alberta. She commonly works on cats, dogs, cows, horses, sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas (a South American mammal, related to the llama) and elk.
Stephanie: What made you decide to become a vet? How did you become a vet?
Shanna: I grew up on a farm; both my grandparents and my parents had cattle and I was always interested in what was going on in the barn. We also seemed to have lots of cats and dogs around that were part of our family and I always wanted to make sure they were happy and healthy so that they could be with us for a long time. I volunteered at vet clinics during the summers to get experience and to make sure that this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life - I loved it. Through my mentors I found out what I had to do to become a vet, and became very determined to do so. I became a vet after going to university for seven years.
Stephanie: What do you like about your job?
Shanna: I love helping animals and owners. It's important to realize that it's not just animals you are caring for and dealing with - it's people as well. I love the fact that I can help an animal who is very sick turn around and be back to jumping up and down and licking your face and then seeing the owner's reaction to that as well. It just makes me feel great about what I do, like I'm making a difference.
In my current practice, there is a wide variety of things I get to do on a daily basis. No two days are the same, which is wonderful. I work with a wonderful group of people; we keep each other laughing during the day, and when I go home at night I have my husband and three wonderful pets (two cats and a dog) to keep me entertained. I love my job and am glad I chose such a wonderful profession.
Stephanie: What is your least favourite part of the job?
Shanna: I would have to say that euthanasia (the humane death of a pet) is my least favourite part of my job. It's really a hard thing to put most animals down and the families are often very upset. It's hard sometimes not to become emotionally involved.
Stephanie: What advice do you have for someone considering becoming a vet?
Shanna: Hang out at a few different veterinary clinics, some that do large animals like cows and horses and some that do small animals, because they are very different aspects of vet medicine. Get as much experience as you can before you start applying to veterinary college. It could help you get in, and it will definitely help you once you finish veterinary school.
I encourage anyone who is thinking of becoming a vet to do so. Contact your local veterinarian; I'm sure most will be more than happy to answer your questions and give you advice.
Stephanie: What kind of an education do you need to be a vet? What kind of education did you get?
Shanna: You need at least two years of a bachelor's degree (usually a B.Sc.) to apply to vet college. This is because there are quite a few prerequisites to apply to vet college and they are mainly science based. You need to have excellent grades and experience working at a vet clinic. I did three years of a bachelor of science degree in biology, and then applied to the Atlantic Veterinary College. I got in right away, which can sometimes be hard. The veterinary program itself was four years long. The first three years were classroom with some hands-on work, and the final year was all practical experience.
Stephanie: What is your favourite animal?
Shanna: My favorite animal is the cow. They are just built so differently from any other animal - they intrigue me.
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