International Women's Day: Employee Spotlight

International Women's Day: Employee Spotlight

To celebrate International Women's Day (March 8th) and International Day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11th), we are spotlighting some of our amazing employees in our global workforce. Meet Dr Ilona, Dr Stacy, and Dr Lukpla, and hear what being in the veterinary profession means to them.

Why did you become a vet?

Dr Ilona, Clinical Director for WVS India, said:

"As a small child, I saw a TV program about the San Diego Zoo in California, and I thought it would be cool to work in such a place. Over my teenage years, my interest turned into horses and so, applying for vet school was a choice to get to work with animals, especially horses."

"Through my vet college years, I got back my interest in wildlife and zoo animals, and I did a number of internships in wildlife rescue-rehab programmes and zoos. However, I eventually realised that a lot of the wildlife work for vets involves disease investigations and laboratory work, and I thought I was more into clinical work in the field. So I started in mixed-animal practice in the countryside, working with lots of cows, some horses, and pigs, dogs, and cats."

"Besides veterinary work, from a very young age I was also interested in development issues, and even considered studying developing country geography at one point. Although I never did so."

"This led to me exploring animal charity projects in Africa but soon afterward, I found a project in India, and decided to give it a go."

"So I came to rural South India to help a charity with sterilisation and rabies elimination projects, as well as running a basic veterinary service, treating cattle, buffaloes, sheep, goats, cats, and dogs in rural villages and tribal settlements."

"This then proved to be what I was meant to be doing."

"Almost 20 years later, I run a veterinary training programme in India to empower other vets to get involved in humane dog population management and rabies control work."

Dr Stacy, Veterinary Surgeon for WVS India, said:

"My family has always had pet dogs from as far as I can remember, and that’s where the first bond with animals started. Later, when I was a teenager, my pet dog met with an accident and suffered a minor fracture. That was my first visit to the vet, and I was super fascinated with the procedure to get her treated - everything from the sedation to the x-rays to the treatment."

"From that day on I was determined to be an Ortho-Vet."

"I now know an Ortho-Vet is not a term, but I have managed to do my Masters in Veterinary Surgery, specialising in orthopedics."

Dr Lukpla, Veterinary Surgeon for WVS Thailand, said:

"Basically, I love to help, and combine with my childhood favourite TV program is National Geographic, especially the animal’s life. I have never lived without a pet. In my life, I have had a dog, hamsters, mice, a guinea pig, and now I have two cats, and I love them. It's as simple as I love to help animals."

What is your favorite aspect of practicing veterinary medicine?

Dr Ilona, Clinical Director for WVS India, said:

"I love the diversity of what you can do with this education, and how you can also do different things at different stages of your career. Different animal species, clinical work, or research work, or even teaching."

Dr Stacy, Veterinary Surgeon for WVS India, said:

"My favourite part of practicing vet medicine is that I get to get up every day and go do something I love. I have never felt that going to work is a burden or something I need to force myself to do. My other favourite is being able to treat so many free-roaming dogs here in India. Working in a charity allows me to work with many animals on a daily basis, and it gives me immense pleasure to be able to call this my work. Plus, being able to help animals that would otherwise have to suffer from no help at all is a big plus. For example, when free-roaming dogs meet with accidents and end up with broken legs, they normally get amputated."

"Now, thanks to WVS and all our donors, we can use these funds to provide limb-saving orthopaedic surgeries to dogs that would normally not be able to get it."

Dr Lukpla, Veterinary Surgeon for WVS Thailand, said:

"Every day that I work in the veterinary field, I am fulfilled and surrounded by many cute animals. With every treatment I provide, I make these furry friends feel better, as well as keep learning and improving my practice skills."

What role do veterinarians play in the community?

Dr Ilona, Clinical Director for WVS India, said:

"Veterinarians have a very important role in the community. People often do not understand the diverse roles that vets have in protecting human communities from zoonotic diseases (such as rabies, for example), or from food-borne diseases and health problems. Keeping pet animals healthy is not only important for the pet's health and welfare, but ultimately for human's benefit too – and this does not end to domestic animals. Veterinarians are needed to monitor wild animal health and to translocate individual wild animals when required for their health and conservation of species."

"Many infectious diseases that affect humans have originated from animals."

Dr Stacy, Veterinary Surgeon for WVS India, said:

"Vets have multiple roles – treating animals and improving animal welfare is our primary role."

"But I feel we also frequently help other humans care for animals, as many people want to help animals, but they don’t know how, and this can cause the animal unnecessary stress and suffering."

"Our other major role is in public health, especially when it comes to diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans. For example, by spaying or neutering, and vaccinating animals, we can protect humans and animals from fatal diseases like rabies."

Dr Lukpla, Veterinary Surgeon for WVS Thailand, said:

"Honestly, many Thai people still do not know how much veterinarians are involved in their life. They know only a veterinarian as a person who works in a hospital and provides medicine to animals. But for example, in Thailand, veterinarians also manage the control of zoonotic diseases and support public health, as well as controls the quality of animal products in many ways. Another part of our role is health and welfare education. In the small animal field, I want to say a big Thank You to every Thai vet who helps educate owners on how to best care for their pets."

"Through education, we have the power to ensure all animals have a good quality of life."

What advice do you have for women wanting to pursue a career in veterinary science?

Dr Ilona, Clinical Director for WVS India, said:

"Go for it!"

Dr Stacy, Veterinary Surgeon for WVS India, said:

"The work satisfaction in this career is unbelievable."

"To all the girls that love pets, I recommend getting into veterinary science and pursuing your passion. The job is often emotionally demanding, and I think women are the best equipped to handle this. Plus the reward of seeing the happy tail wags when you go to work and the unimaginable affection you get from animals is worth all the struggle."

Dr Lukpla, Veterinary Surgeon for WVS Thailand, said:

"Being a good veterinarian is about being willing to give."

"Whilst in vet school, I heard the slogan: A veterinarian should have a lady’s hand, a lion’s heart, and an eagle’s eye. It means that we should be able to provide a gentle and warm hand to each furry patient (as we are ladies, of course!), be brave enough to deal with stressful situations, as well as be able to notice the smallest change or abnormality on an animal. Moreover, this slogan explains that a veterinarian's job isn't easy or pretty, but if you are brave enough, WELCOME!"

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