Lynn Henderson (she/her)
I was born/grew up in: Winnipeg, Manitoba
I now live in: Alliston, Ontario
I completed my training/education at: I have a Bachelor of Science (Major Ecology), University of Toronto, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, and a Master of Education, Ontario Institute for Studies of Education, University of Toronto.
What I do at work
The majority of my professional career has involved clinical small animal medical practice. This means the hands-on work of treating dogs and cats at a veterinary hospital. I see a mixture of both healthy pets and animals in need of specialized treatments. For healthy pets, this includes providing vaccinations, deworming, or other preventive measures to help them remain healthy. For sick animals in need of treatment, they have a variety of issues including vomiting, lameness, or wounds.
In my daily tasks, I use a lot of specialized chemistry and biology knowledge. I also use math in my calculations for prescribing medications safely. Using my knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pharmacology (the study of medicines), I first diagnose diseases and other issues. I then create a plan moving forward. Much of my time is spent educating clients about my findings and how they can contribute to their pet's care moving forward. To do this, I use my detailed understanding of the disease or issue.
I work as part of a team within the hospital. This includes the reception staff who deal with clients. It also includes the veterinary technicians (nurses) assisting with patient care and procedures. I also work part-time as a college-professor. In this role, I teach veterinary technician students the fundamental skills needed to enter the work force.
My career path is
I have had animals throughout my life. However, I did not really consider veterinary medicine as a career until I entered university. I always assumed I would not be able to be around blood, or surgery. When I began to study biological sciences, I realized that understanding how these systems works changes the perception from 'gross' or 'scary' to fascinating, and awe-inspiring. I realized I could totally do it!
The road to becoming a veterinarian is a long one. You must complete 2 to 4 years of preparatory undergraduate work in the arts and sciences before you can be admitted to veterinary college. Once admitted to vet school, it is another4 years. I spent time with many veterinarians and volunteered my time. I was purposefully trying on the career to be sure I felt it was for me. This is always an opportunity at veterinary hospitals for students who are motivated and willing to work hard. I found volunteering often led to paid-work after a time!
The main challenges in this career are balancing work and life demands. The need for animal care is always large. A veterinarian acting out of love for animals and kindness for humans is at risk of over-working if he/she does not set personal boundaries. This is a lesson we all learn in time. We need to make time for ourselves and our loved ones outside of work. This makes us better at our job when we return.
I am motivated by
Animals have a wonderful energy and bring me happiness and joy, even on tough days. The decisions involved in working up a disease process can feel like solving a puzzle. While it is often difficult, it is incredibly rewarding to realize you have solved it! This leads to a happier animal and human family. I enjoy trying to make each veterinary visit as easy and kind as possible, for both the animals and the people. Each are often nervous and can be made comfortable by kindness, and an effort to engage with their individual needs.
How I affect peoples’ lives
Animals are incredibly important to families! They contribute to mental health and wellness. The tough decisions surrounding caring for an animal can be emotional. This means that I need to have a strong relationship with my clients and build trust, so we can work together to care for their pet.
Outside of work I
I enjoy writing, cooking, and bonfires with my family. I am an active swimmer as well as a country music singer/songwriter.
My advice to others
Get out there and get some experience! This will help you to try the job on to see if it is a fit for you. Also, it is needed for applications to veterinary school.