Changing Career Paths: Nathan Schachtschneider's Journey to the OVC
December 16, 2020
Hello FVC, my name is Nathan Schachtschneider and I’m a second-year student at the OVC. If you’re reading this and wish to become a veterinarian but your path is seemingly taking you in another direction, here’s my roundabout journey. I hope it will be an encouragement to pursue your goals and dreams.
I’ve had many interests and strengths, both in academics and applied studies and activities, which, for me, meant my career aspirations changed often. I remember wanting to be an astronomer, marine biologist, cabinet maker, chef, and several other careers during high school. It wasn’t until grade 11 and 12 that my mind fell on veterinary medicine. Coming from a family of engineers, and thinking it would be prudent to do so, I took electrical and biomedical engineering as a fall-back option, in case vet school didn’t pan out. I really enjoyed the biomedical courses, but the program consisted of mainly electrical related courses, and I did not enjoy them. Suffice it to say, I was sick of school when I graduated, and decided to pursue work in the engineering field.
By the time my work contract ended, I knew engineering was not something I wanted to pursue any further. At this point I had lost my vision for pursuing veterinary medicine and spent some time searching for career advice. The recurring theme I found mentioned, often from TED-talks, was to pursue foremost something from which you derive fulfillment, and secondly something you are passionate about. For me, I realized fulfillment came from helping others, whether it be animals or people, and my passion was in medical related sciences. I then decided to pursue physiotherapy, in addition to veterinary medicine.
I spent time shadowing both veterinarians and physiotherapists. I also returned to school for two full time semesters and one part time semester to obtain the required prerequisites and increase my application average. It was slightly daunting going back to university knowing that my future was riding on my performance in the following semesters, but prayer and a lot of hard work enabled me to do well. In the end I didn’t get any offers from my first round of applications and didn’t even get an interview for the OVC. That was disappointing! However, I managed to pick myself back up and realized I had a glaring lack of animal experience, by application definitions. I began volunteering at a stable, animal shelter, and the Hamilton Aviary, as well as getting a summer job involving animals. Fast-forward one semester of school and a second round of applications and interviews – this time the offers came from both the OVC and several physiotherapy schools! I ended up accepting the OVC’s offer and have not looked back or regretted it since!
The journey wasn’t easy, it wasn’t comfortable, and it required introspection and searching, but it has been worth all the time and effort it’s taken me to get here, and I look forward to what’s to come! I hope my story will encourage you to push past the bumps in your journey, whether it’s to the OVC or another area in life. If you’re currently in an unrelated field, but you find veterinary medicine fulfilling and you have a passion for it or certain aspects of vet med, I wish you to know that the effort is worth it. The time spent discovering things you don’t want to pursue as a career will not be wasted. I thought I didn’t want to “waste” the “best years” of my life in school, but pursuing and doing what I love, what fulfills me and holds my passion, will make those years the best years of my life. I trust the same will hold true for you!