Three questions for … PennVet’s Rachel Katz

When Nationwide Field Veterinarian Dr. Kristi Yee chose Rachel Katz of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine to be our next featured veterinary student, I smiled in recognition. That’s because PennVet’s Rachel is the national VBMA‘s compliance officer, and one of the best parts of my work is getting to know all the national officers and many from the local chapters as well. Year after year, these students are amazing to get to know!

Take it away, Rachel!

Will you please share something unexpected you discovered or learned on your path into to veterinary medicine?

Unlike many of my peers, the decision to become a veterinarian became a little bit later in my life. When I began my undergrad degree, I had no idea of what I wanted to be. I ended up majoring in psychology and anthropology because of my fascination with people. Yet, I knew that it was not something I wanted to pursue further. Faced with looming student loan payments, I found a job at a high-end boutique where I faced many customer service challenges. I knew that this wasn’t my job for life but I still had no idea what career path was right for me. After months of consideration, I found veterinary medicine. I had been a counselor at a horseback riding camp throughout high school and college. That was when I was most fulfilled, working with animals and teaching.

When I first entered veterinary school, I felt somewhat dejected that I had wasted my undergraduate degree. One of my high school friends graduated the summer before I started so all I could think about was, that if I had figured it out earlier, I could be a doctor right now! After talking to more people in the industry, I came to realize how valuable my experiences truly were. I was surprised to learn how important the communication skills I had gained during my undergraduate degree and my time in customer service was. While some of my classmates may have taken many more science classes than I have, I feel more comfortable with the soft skills. Because of this, we can work together to fill the gaps in each others knowledge to help advance our profession.

PennVet2What is your vision for the future of veterinary medicine and how does it influence the way you’re preparing?

My vision for the future of veterinary medicine is ever-changing. When I first began veterinary school the thought for my future in veterinary medicine is that I would graduate, practice for a few years as a small animal practitioner and then buy the practice. However, I quickly learned through the VBMA that there was so much more to our field. We are currently in a time filled with tons of innovation and change. I believe that the veterinary space from before I entered school may very well be completely different than when I graduate school.

Because of this uncertainty, I have been preparing to become a doctor by working on my ability to handle change and roll with the punches. I try to focus on how to look up information and critically think rather than solely focusing on the millions of facts we learn every day in class. I am very excited to see what the future brings for our profession and how I might be a part of that in potentially a non-traditional role.

Can you tell us one thing about yourself that would surprise your veterinary colleagues?

When I am not around people in the veterinary industry, my surprising fact is that I have three cats; however, most people in veterinary medicine do not find that number shocking at all. In fact, several of my friends have encouraged me to get another pet!

That being said, my veterinary colleagues may be surprised to learn that I am an avid runner. Before vet school, I completed seven marathons. While I don’t plan on trying to do another marathon while still in school, I have continued to run half-marathons, bringing my total number up to 11.

Thanks, Rachel!