One her recent visit to the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Nationwide field veterinarian Dr. Tonya Sparks chose Amy Le Blanc (2022) for the “Three Questions” treatment. Now, without reading to the bottom (yet), can you guess from pictures alone what part of veterinary medicine she finds extremely interesting?
Will you please share something unexpected you discovered or learned on your path to veterinary medicine?
I went to college dreaming of becoming a veterinarian. However, I started doing more research into the profession and was floored by the relatively low salaries veterinarians make. I was working with a veterinarian who was overburdened by student loans and that experience honestly discouraged me from pursuing my dream for a while. I explored other interests in college hoping to find something else that excited me (research, psychology, business, etc.), but I realized veterinary medicine is my true passion, so I decided to go to vet school despite my initial financial hesitations.
What I discovered in vet school was an amazingly special group of people who are also truly passionate about veterinary medicine. Being a vet is not a career that will make you wealthy; everyone in this field is here because they love what they do. There are many fields where this is not the case. It was a refreshing discovery for me to see how much commitment and dedication my colleagues have, and it is one of the things I love most about this industry.
What is your vision for the future of veterinary medicine and how does it influence the way you’re preparing?
Before vet school, I worked as a consultant in the (human) healthcare industry. I have learned more about the small animal veterinary industry since starting school, and I am noticing trends that interestingly parallel changes the human healthcare industry made a few decades ago. Particularly, corporations, medical groups, and clinic partnerships are becoming more common than private practices.
When I added a business minor to my undergraduate degree, I did so with the intention of owning a practice one day. However, this may not be feasible if the veterinary medicine industry continues to trend like the human healthcare industry did. I still want to be a leader in the field and progress in my career beyond being an associate clinician; this just looks different as part of a larger company than it does a practice owner. While I’m in school, I’m already thinking ahead to this future role and am actively participating in VBMA events and talking to industry professionals to best prepare me for a leadership position, in whatever form that may take.
Can you tell us one thing about yourself that would surprise your veterinary colleagues?
Although I will most likely end up working with small animals, I have a secret desire to become super-specialized in an area of zoological medicine. When I learn about wildlife cases that mention the “giraffe hoof specialist” or the “avian anesthesiologist” coming in as an integral part to the case, I can’t help but think how great it would be for me to learn enough about one particular area of zoological medicine like that. It seems pretty impractical, but I would love to be the “lion dental specialist” (for example) to zoos all over the world call if they need a consultation.
Thanks, Amy! And thanks, Dr. Sparks!