During her visit to the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, Nationwide Field Veterinarian Dr. Tonya Sparks enjoyed a visit with Nicole Szafranski (2020), who loves the challenges of her chosen profession as much as she loves antique books!
Would you please share something unexpected you discovered or learned on your path into veterinary medicine?
The most unexpected aspect I have stumbled upon is the beautifully incomprehensible breadth and depth of veterinary medicine. As I go through courses and learn more about animal health, the more I believe veterinarians are some of the most well-rounded people in the world. We have to understand the physiology, anatomy, pathophysiology, etc., of multiple species; we must understand the epidemiological impacts of the diseases our patients face; we have to be able to aptly communicate our medical knowledge in everyday language; we use innovative ways to solve problems and develop treatments; we love the animals we care for with a passion found in few other professions; and we are continually learning, teaching, and advancing every single day. We are truly both artists and scientists in every essence of our careers. I could go on for hours about the unexpected aspects of veterinary medicine I learn every day as a vet student, but overall, I am ever in awe of the amazing profession of which I am fortunate enough to be a part.
I see an ever-progressing science that continues to increase collaborative efforts with human medicine, the agriculture industry, the environmental sciences, and the general public. We are already a profession full of inquisitive and passionate minds, and there are so many advancements we can make if we work more congruently with the other scientific professions. Growing up, I had the “James Herriot view” of veterinary medicine, and as I am exposed to more in the field, I feel that we can still maintain that level of personal care and love while increasingly helping both the domesticated and natural realms of our world.
As I go through veterinary school, I try to live up to this vision by getting involved in every experience that I am able to. By stretching my comfort zone and delving into various aspects of veterinary medicine, I hope to come out of vet school as well-rounded as I can to be ready to continue learning, growing, and teaching as a vet for the rest of my life.
Would you tell us one thing about yourself that would surprise your veterinary colleagues?
The most surprising thing about me is my love for antique books, particularly those dealing with the life sciences, agriculture, and veterinary medicine. Not only is it amazing to hold a part of history that has been well-used by so many before me, but it is also incredible to see how far we have come as scientists and veterinarians. Keeping these books on my shelves is a continual reminder of how the science of veterinary medicine is ever-advancing, and it makes me even prouder to be a part of this amazing profession.
Thank you, Nicole!