It’s a busy week for so many of us, the kick-off to the busy holiday season. But before I wish you all a “Happy Thanksgiving,” I want to introduce you to one more student as part of my “Three Questions for … ” series. After this entry, I have a couple of established veterinarians I will be introducing you to before I have another student for you to read more about.
Celine Kermanian is a member of the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine‘s Class of 2016. She is from Southern California, and she is the current vice president of the UC Davis VBMA.
What drew you to veterinary medicine?
As far back as I can remember, my two principal passions were the love for animals and the field of medicine, and thus, veterinary medicine, this noble fusion of both of my passions, became my calling at an early age. Although my initial decision was cast as a product of a young child’s innocent brain, my interest consistently grew, and my decision cemented, with each passing year of maturity, experience and exposure to the field. I quickly learned that being a veterinarian meant a lot more than mere acquisition of academic knowledge, and that the scope of its contributions was far more vast than animal welfare alone.
My growing love for this unique field is founded in the wide array of facets it encompasses. How many other medical professionals can say that they have the privilege of interacting with any species or treating all, but one, species on any given day!? Who else is lucky enough to perform bits of surgery, dentistry, ophthalmology, cardiology, neurology, anesthesia and routine wellness every day, while in the company of adorable animal patients and their incredible moms and dads? No day in a veterinary clinic is like any another: With each new day comes new exciting opportunities!
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?
As with the veterinarians of previous generations, the veterinarians of today will be sure to face their own set of challenges. And as with the veterinarians of generations before us, our challenges will be specific to our time, environment and societies. I think one challenge that is particularly relevant to new generations of veterinarians is that of the debt-to-income ratio, which continues to grow. Over the course of the past 20 years not only have veterinary salaries decreased, but student loan debt has sky rocketed and interest rates on those loans have also increased significantly, pressuring veterinary students and many new veterinarians.
However, the majority of veterinarians have limited business and finance savvy. As the debt-to-income ratio increases, veterinary schools are implementing new curricula to include significantly more business knowledge than before. A survey from 2013 by the California Veterinary Medical Association showed that 44% of veterinary associates are interested in owning practices, but most of them are wary of practice ownership because they do not want “to deal with finances [or] manage people.” Yet the higher numbers of veterinary school graduates in recent years makes finding positions as associates an increasingly competitive proposition and exerts downward pressure on salaries as well.
The Veterinary Business Management Association recognizes these challenges and aims to fill the gaps in business-related instruction in the veterinary school curricula and fulfill its mission to “advance the profession through business knowledge, creating networking opportunities, and empowering students to achieve their personal and professional goals.” Founded by veterinary students at one school who aspired for a more comprehensive business education than what they were offered at the timel, the VBMA has grown to more than 3,000 members at all veterinary schools in the country over the past five years.
Can you tell us one thing about you that would surprise your future veterinary colleagues?
Friends are often surprised to learn that I was quite the tomboy in my earlier years! I grew up with two brothers who were both my best friends and my favorite playmates. Although I was given the opportunity to do ballet, gymnastics and tap dancing among other more traditionally feminine sports, I consistently found myself more interested in the more “boyish” sports. One of my favorite sports and usually the one found most unconventional by others was ice hockey! Once my brothers suggested the idea, we jumped in head first and I played on my team as the only girl for years!
Thanks Celine! Speaking of the VBMA, I love the new videos on the site of the national VMBA. I especially love this one, featuring my friends and colleagues, Drs. Jim Wilson and Andy Roark. Enjoy!