Words of Encouragement from a Pre-Vet Student
March 29, 2021
My name is Natalie Pridham and I am a 3rd year undergraduate student studying Animal Biology at the University of Guelph. Similar to many people in my program, I have had a lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian.
My love for animals has been very strong for as long as I can remember. I grew up with cats in the house, always played with my neighbors’ dogs, and eventually got into horseback riding when I was 8 years old. Now, at 21 years of age, that love remains strong and passionate – which is what drives me to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. Animals have had a very positive impact on my life, and I would love to give back to them as much as possible.
This past summer, I was fortunate enough to work as a Veterinary Assistant at an incredible veterinary hospital. Working alongside some pretty awesome veterinarians solidified my decision to continue on the path to vet school. Every day, there was something new which always kept me on my toes, and I never stopped learning. Some days there would be a big litter of puppies in for their first vaccinations, some days there were multiple back-to-back surgeries, and some days were unfortunately on the tougher side. The months I got to spend there provided me with such valuable experience, and I will be forever grateful for that opportunity. The endless amounts of puppy kisses and kitten cuddles were OK too, I guess.
Due to COVID turning life completely upside down, there were certain safety protocols that had to be followed. This included curbside veterinary appointments – meaning only animals were allowed inside the clinic, while their owners waited in the parking lot. I was the one doing most of the patient intakes, which involved talking with the owners and getting a brief history on their pet. This is where I learned the importance of building a relationship with clients and gaining their trust. People started to recognize “oh hey, this is the same blonde girl as last time!”, and they took comfort in knowing that I was a familiar face to their animal (with a mask on, of course). It was really nice to build these relationships with the owners, and was one of my favorite aspects of this job.
I know there is this strange predisposed idea that you won’t have to deal with humans if you are in the veterinary field… but that is far from the truth. People LOVE their animals – they are like family. So, when it comes to veterinary medicine – where the patients can’t speak for themselves – their humans do the talking for them.
It is very scary to think that this time next year, I will be submitting my application to the Ontario Veterinary College. Before coming to university, everyone told me that the years would absolutely fly by – and they were 100% right. It feels like just yesterday that I failed one of my first-year finals. If you’re in first year and you’re reading this, just know that it will get easier!!! First year (and second year too, honestly) were fairly tough – I am not afraid to admit that I struggled, and it made me lose a bit of confidence in my ability to get the grades I need for vet school. But I don’t give up that easy… and neither should you. If vet school is something that you’re serious about and you want it bad enough, anything can be accomplished if you put your mind to it.
Thanks for reading, and best of luck with everything in the future!