Kids want to be veterinarians ...
When I was in fourth grade, my cherished pony started rolling around on the ground in pain. What did we do? We called the veterinarian. He came to our house, and my horse was miraculously saved! That's when I decided to become a veterinarian. My vet was my hero. He saved my pony's life—in my eyes, anyway—and my lifelong passion was born.
THEY ARE THE FUTURE
All kids should have the same inspiration that I had. However, there aren't a lot of practitioners getting involved with school-age children. We have too many practice management, staffing, and medical issues to deal with. Despite all that, we must invest in the future of veterinary medicine.Our future employees, clients, and colleagues are sitting in elementary and high school classrooms right now. Why not begin to build relationships, foster good pet care skills, and provide a community service? The child who walks through your clinic's door today could be your business partner in 15 to 20 years.
There are so many ways to volunteer. Career days in middle school give you the opportunity to show the students pictures of popped-out eyeballs and cow palpations—trust me, they love it. There are read-aloud days at the elementary schools. You can come to a class and share your favorite animal book from childhood. There are also 4-H projects—many counties are desperate for you to teach kids about pet and farm animal care. There are also pet parades that need sponsors and judges. If you have a therapy dog or a client with a service dog, talk to local school officials about getting involved with special needs children. Physical therapists may be interested in using you and your therapy dog. Nursing homes aren't the only places that utilize therapy animals.
My son's third grade class was studying animal classification, so I volunteered to bring in a dog and a chicken. I spoke with the kids about the differences between birds and mammals. They were able to touch a chicken, see the scales, and feel its comb, and they learned that there are no teeth in a bird's beak. They were able to pet a dog that wasn't going to bite, hear its heart through a stethoscope, and learn about different breeds. That's learning at its best, and the children never forget it.
An orthodontist once told me that he gives all the children who come into his office a questionnaire. The number one career choice of children ages 9 to 12 is veterinarian. As a veterinarian, these kids hold you in high esteem. They need to see and touch animals. They need to know how to avoid being bitten. They need to know that they should never pick up an injured animal. They need to know how much care goes into owning a pet. Most of all, they need to know the great, unconditional love of a pet. Accept the challenge to make a difference in a child's life today.
Dr. Sonya Brouillette practices veterinary medicine in St. Francisville, La. Please send questions or comments to [email protected]