We head West for one of our final featured students of the academic year, Sean Calalang of the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University. Sean is a member of the class of 2023, and she was chosen by Nationwide field veterinarian Dr. Kristen Britton.
Will you please share something unexpected you discovered on your path into veterinary medicine?
I initially chose veterinary medicine after combining my two passions: medicine and animals. Throughout my undergraduate education, I believed everything I was working towards would be going towards my career in private practice.
What I did not realize and eventually learned was that there is more to the field than I had anticipated.
On my first day in the veterinary program, I was immediately exposed to what seemed like an unlimited number of opportunities within the field. These opportunities included taking a specialty, working in a corporate veterinary hospital, research, entering industry with a focus in nutrition, pharmaceuticals, telemedicine, and many more. Feeling behind the times with an incredibly dynamic field, I sought additional learning opportunities where I was introduced to other forms of practice, current studies, and what this research entails for our practitioners.
Based on the numerous paths that caught my interest, I grew more unsure of a future where I would practice in my own clinic; however, I did grow more excited on what my future could entail and what paths I will enjoy. Although I originally anticipated this field to focus only on medicine and animals, I am still discovering there are many other interests and paths within veterinary medicine. While I envisioned working in a private practice not very long ago, I learned that the patterns in this field are changing and there are other opportunities evolving.
My vision is to provide better resources and business education to our veterinarians. There are many challenges vets may face, such as managing their debt-to-income ratio, creating a well-run business, buying into a practice, lawsuits, work-life balance, and so on.
From my past experiences, I have noticed that a veterinarian wears many hats — one of those being in business. Although I have gained so much valuable knowledge in a short time frame, there is still so much more that I need to learn before I can be more confident in my future as a veterinarian. My desire to learn more about the business aspect of veterinary medicine is what influenced me to become the OSU chapter president of the Veterinary Business Management Assoc.
I am preparing by pushing myself to create connections with different experts in the veterinary field, to learn from their experiences and advice, while also bringing these educational opportunities to my colleagues. Every practice is different, and I would like to learn what aspects of these clinics contribute to their success. This has influenced me to proactively improve my skills in business and marketing so I can effectively make an informed decision when choosing a practice that is right for me.
By learning more about what makes a practice sustainable, I can then focus more of my attention to my clients and patients rather than on my income. As areas of the veterinary field become more systematic, I envision veterinarians will become more adept in business knowledge and have greater confidence in finding and creating financial opportunities for ourselves.
Looking for the silver lining, what is one positive thing that you think our profession can take from the COVID-19 pandemic?
We can share that veterinary schools contribute greatly towards research of a disease and its advancements of a treatment, whether or not it primarily impacts humans over animals.
The veterinary diagnostic lab here at OSU has successfully produced a critical component in high demand to aid hospitals in testing for COVID-19. This component, a viral transport medium, is able to be produced in larger amounts in veterinary hospitals because of the increased capacity in comparison to human hospitals. This is a great example of many experts within the veterinary field coming together to do what they can in controlling the disease, all of which which contribute to the advancement of public health.
Individuals within our profession have a great sense of responsibility to use the best of our knowledge and skills in this pandemic so that we can improve the health of all animals, including people. The veterinary field has always been a tight-knit community, but this pandemic has made me realize that the extent of what we can achieve in this field is immeasurable.
Various organizations arranged webinars to facilitate additional learning, veterinary schools across the nation have shared their online learning programs and donated PPE to hospitals in need, and veterinary labs are producing necessary components for viral testing.
While many clinicians and technicians/nurses still face risks of infection, they continue to provide emergency services for our animals. What we can appreciate from this pandemic is that when panic ensued, our profession continued to prioritize OneHealth‘s philosophy, which is the collaborative effort to attain optimal health for people, animals, and the environment.
Thank you, Sean and Dr. Britton!