This has been the year of the non-traditional veterinary student here on the NationwideDVM blog, it seems! Seeing the range of experiences and the near-universal dedication to the goals of these students is inspiring. Because of this trend, it seems fitting to end our academic year of veterinary student profiles with OSU’s Franci Forman (Class of 2019) because … read on to find out!
Forman is president of the Oregon State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine‘s chapter of the VBMA, a Hill’s student representative and an officer in the OSU Shelter Medicine Club.
What drew you to veterinary medicine?
Veterinary medicine is my second career. I graduated from St. Lawrence University in upstate New York with a degree in political science. After graduation and too many winters in the Northeast, I decided to buy a one-way ticket to Hawaii. I quickly found a job waiting tables on Oahu and eventually was able to find a full-time position working in sales for the largest beverage distributor in the state. While this job was full of benefits and a decent paycheck, I was constantly unsatisfied with my work and felt that I needed to be doing something that made a difference — something about which I was passionate.
During a long drive home one evening, I called my boyfriend (now husband) and told him I needed to re-route my professional plans. We had just adopted a dog named Shorty. My boyfriend had watched me interact with the veterinarian on our wellness visits, and he suggested that I look into the field. I’ve always had an interest in medicine, but didn’t realize how much it meant to me. Quite frankly, I was also too lazy academically to ever consider pursuing it. When I got home that night, I began searching for what kind of academic and professional expectations needed to be met to be in the veterinary field. I sent in an application to the University of Hawaii two days later so I could start checking off my required coursework list. I also called local clinics to see if I could shadow a veterinarian part-time.
Four years later, after all the prerequisites and work at veterinary clinics, we decided to move to Oregon because I wanted to work for a companion animal emergency hospital in Portland and at that time had decided that Oregon State University was my top choice school.
It has been a long road rerouting my career, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to pursue something that means so much to me. I am excited to go to school each day and eager to continue to make a difference in the lives of pets and their owners.
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?
Everyone talks about the looming debt-to-income ratio for recent graduates. This is something I hope to offset as much as possible by negotiating and earning a salary that can keep me afloat. The tools provided to us — such as the exercise from Nationwide and also from our VBMA organization — make me feel more prepared to enter the workforce and ensure that I am being compensated accordingly for my work.
As the cost of medical treatment in veterinary medicine rises with the quality of care, it is my hope that more pet owners will carry pet insurance so the decisions for the best care of their pets don’t come down to financial capabilities. The growing acceptance of pet health insurance by pet owners help the veterinary field to continue to advance and practice exceptional quality of medicine. That brings more revenue to the field, and that’s what will inevitably support better income for practicing veterinarian, helping to offset the debt-to-income ratio.
Can you tell us one thing about you that would surprise your future veterinary colleagues?
I graduated from a ski academy in Vermont with a class of 18 students. We didn’t get grades for our classes. Instead, a professor sent home a written review of our performance in each class.