Meet Alex Hegg (2019) of the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, our latest featured veterinary student. Alex was chosen by Nationwide Field Veterinarian Dr. Kristi Yee.
Will you share something unexpected you discovered or learned on your path into veterinary medicine?
The biggest thing I have discovered is how much more there is to veterinary medicine than just the medicine. No matter what branch of veterinary medicine one enters, there is so much more than just diagnosing and treating a patient! From running a business to providing compassion to a grieving client, the field of veterinary medicine is so broad that it would be impossible to learn it all in the four-year curriculum.
Working in practices growing up, I never really recognized all of the “behind the scenes” action. Practice managers, office staff, and often the veterinarians themselves are so involved to make sure the practice is running efficiently. This is why I am such an advocate of extra-curricular activities such as VBMA and other student clubs that offer invaluable education that might not be obtained within the standard curriculum.
Along with the vastness of the profession, I was extremely unaware of the mental health challenge that our profession faces. It seemed that every veterinarian that I have had a relationship with has it “all figured out” and was exactly where they wanted to be. It wasn’t until veterinary school that I was made aware of the challenges. I believe that we, as a profession, are making great strides in this area. At Purdue, we are constantly provided with activities and discussions promoting mental health, and I think this is invaluable to both students and professional.
What is your vision for the future of veterinary medicine, and how does it influence the way you’re preparing?
I believe the future of veterinary medicine is going to largely be guided by public perception and legislation. We have already seen examples of this with the passing and implementation of things such as the Veterinary Feed Directive and California’s Proposition 2. As a livestock kid, it is my hope that as veterinarians we work to educate the public on what exactly we do and how we are working to keep both animals and humans healthy and safe. I think that it is imperative for us to be involved in our community to provide education and guidance. I have seen examples of this in local “community nights” put on by other veterinarians that I have worked with, and I hope to continue these as a veterinarian myself.
Can you tell us one thing about yourself that would surprise your veterinary colleagues?
One of my hobbies growing up was collecting and restoring antique tractors. When I was younger, my grandpa and I completely restored a Farmall Super H, as well as other tractors for my brother and cousins. My family still takes our tractors to an antique tractor show every year, and I really enjoy taking my tractor on “tractor drives” across the state.