Where Are They Now? Featuring Dr. Julia Stewart
November 11, 2020
Hello FVC members and others considering a future in veterinary medicine!
My name is Julia Stewart, and I am a 2018 OVC graduate (an Ivory Owl). My path to becoming a veterinarian began when I was young after the “what do you want to be when you grow up?” questions were asked. This was further nurtured by my interests in science, nature and after completing a co-op program in high school at a local veterinary practice. Once I toured the campus at the University of Guelph, I enrolled and completed a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology in the Department of Biological Sciences.
I enjoyed my undergraduate degree at the U of G because it provided supported learning groups, outlets for volunteering, social and physical activities, amazing food and a great sense of community. I was also on the FVC executive team from 2010-2012, and served as an executive assistant and co-president during my time there. I love Guelph!
After two rounds of unsuccessful admission to the Ontario Veterinary College, I was able to experience very different veterinary and animal husbandry opportunities than what I was used to, notably relating to wildlife, diagnostic pathology, and livestock production. Those experiences and time spent improving my interview approach were part of my journey to become a successful candidate for the DVM program at the OVC.
Completing the 4-year program is like how Dr. Amanda Li previously described – a “rollercoaster of emotions.” You build meaningful connections with staff and faculty, and build friendships and a support network that will last a lifetime. It felt grueling at times, but it also went by so fast. It made me self-reflect a lot more, made me practice self-care in ways that went against the “type-A” personality, and there was no shortage of group work.
I am currently practicing at a large animal mobile practice in Grey-Bruce County, and I have been with this practice since I graduated. The rollercoaster did not stop once I became a new graduate out in practice, but thankfully the “ups and downs” of practice are supported by friends/colleagues, mentors, and family support. Here are some examples of the “ups and downs”: the many “ups” include satisfied clients and great patient outcomes, and the “downs” include the loss of a patient or a poor outcome.
There are several different paths to vet school as demonstrated by the diverse backgrounds of my classmates (now colleagues). For example, some colleagues decided much later in life to pursue a veterinary career, or pursued it after a MSc or a PhD. Furthermore, the diversity in career options does not end once you’ve graduated as you can pursue internships/residencies, research, industry, government, and of course general practice!
I spent most of my summer in 2016 as a veterinary student volunteer with Veterinarians without Borders Canada in partnership with Farmers Helping Farmers. We worked on a project with a One Health approach to improve the animal welfare and sustainability of small-holder dairy farmers in rural Kenya. We also visited rural primary schools to educate regarding livestock handling, proper hand-washing hygiene, and rabies disease avoidance. I am pictured below in Kenya on a homestead property posing with a goat kid. I encourage everyone to check out both organizations and consider volunteering or helping out in any way you can. Thank you for reading and I hope you’ve gained some insight.