The “Three Questions for …” series was so popular in 2014 that I’m continuing it this year. I have questions out to some of our top colleagues, and more veterinary students to feature as well. The veterinary student posts have proven to be especially popular, so it seems just right to start the year with an interview of Alyssa Hatala of Ross University in St. Kitts. Her hometown is in Ohio, and she the vice president of the VBMA chapter at Ross. We caught her when she was home for a visit.
What drew you to veterinary medicine?
It encompasses many of my passions in life. My love for animals goes without saying but creating long-lasting relationships with the clients and making a difference in their lives is something I really look forward to. Veterinarians are still heavily trusted and respected in their communities, and I can’t wait to have that kind of relationship with the people I meet throughout my career. We often complain about the clients who bring their pets in only when something is wrong. After living in St. Kitts and witnessing the disregard that many of the residents there have towards pets and animal ownership in general, I now realize just how lucky we are in the United States, and how much we take for granted the fact that people here value pets as family members.
I’m also excited to be a part of a profession that’s constantly changing and evolving for the better. I have peace of mind that I’ll be learning and be mentally stimulated for the rest of my career. I love that every day something different will walk through the doors and no two days will be the same. The fact that I get to be there throughout an animal’s entire life is also appealing to me. I get to be an animal’s pediatrician, dentist, surgeon, etc. all the way up to its end-of-life caretaker. How many other medical professionals get to say the same thing?
Do you think new veterinarians will face different challenges than in previous generations and if so, what are you doing now to meet those challenges?
I definitely think that new grads are facing challenges, but I think every generation of graduating veterinarians has had their own obstacles to overcome. An obvious answer for the current generation is the increasing debt load and debt-to-salary ratio that new grads are experiencing. This may not necessarily be a new challenge, but I think recently awareness of student debt is increasing, not only within the veterinary community but throughout the general public.
I love the quote “It’s not how smart you are, it’s how you are smart.” I decided pretty early on in veterinary school that I wanted to eventually own my own practice. But I didn’t know the first thing about business. I figured what better way to learn than to immerse myself, so I ran and became the Vice President of Ross University’s VBMA chapter. I have learned so much valuable information that will help me be smart in many of my career decisions not only after graduation but in the present as well. It starts with spending money wisely as a student.
Our bursar at Ross drills this phrase into our heads from first semester on: “Live like a student today, so you won’t have to live like one once you graduate.” I, as well as the other current VBMA officers, strive to bring as many speakers to Ross to help educate our fellow future colleagues on the essential information that is often left out of the curriculum. Ignorance is not bliss in this situation; we can meet these challenges and successfully overcome them if we’re equipped with the right knowledge and know exactly what we’re getting ourselves into. Too many times I’ve witnessed people hear what VBMA stands for and immediately be turned off, but I strive to turn that perception around and help other students realize just how valuable the VBMA is.
Can you tell us one thing about you that would surprise your future veterinary colleagues?
In a sea of “Type A” people in vet school, I find that I am one of the few “Type B” personalities swimming through it all. It is December 17th and I just bought my first Christmas present!
I’ve listened to Taylor Swift’s new album so much that last night I had a dream about being in a dance-off with her. She cried because there was a move I did that she couldn’t replicate! Backup career?