A large part of our time here has been spent meeting with veterinarians who work in different capacities throughout government organizations (such as USDA-APHIS, Department of Defense, FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, National Institutes of Health) as well as veterinarians who work for non-profits, contracting groups, and universities in the area. I came in to the externship thinking that I would be able to narrow down what I wanted to do after graduation, but it has been the exact opposite! There are so many opportunities for veterinarians who want to pursue a non-traditional route, and it has been incredible to meet so many of them in this area.
Usually when we meet with them, we are able to hear their “story” – how they got where they are. It has been so interesting to hear the paths they took. Some knew from the beginning they didn’t have any interest in clinical practice, some tried practicing for a few years and realized they hated it, and some still practice part time now! Some got an MPH, some a PhD, and some got both. It was encouraging to hear how many different ways there are to be a non-traditional veterinarian.
Throughout these conversations, the most common things we have been told are:
- Keep an open mind
- I never thought I would be where I am now
Overall, everyone we have spoken with was wonderful about not telling us what to do, but telling us their story using it to encourage us to continue to pursue opportunities that interest us.