So it’s back to the grind again. Those few days off over the holidays were nice, but now you’re back in the clinic or on the road. Sure, it’s fun to see the old clients that you love to hate and their chronically itchy pets you hate to love, but you often find yourself wondering if maybe veterinary medicine holds something else for you.
Lucky for you, I’ve got just the thing!
Wildlife Disease News Digest
I came across this opportunity through a link on Twitter to the Wildlife Disease News Digest Professional Announcements page. This website is a great resource for everyone interested in wildlife diseases and medicine. They have featured some really interesting interviews and also keep up a helpful resource page.
The announcement itself was fairly unassuming. In fact, the text-only list in tiny font would make many an internet publisher cringe! But as your faithful source of career inspiration I am happy to suffer this slight indignation for you.
Graduate Work in Parasites,Wildlife, & Public Health
As you will read, veterinarian and microbiologist Dr. Emily Jenkins is seeking graduate student applications to assist with her research on the ecology and public health significance of zoonoses in wildlife, domestic animals, and people in remote regions of northwestern Canada. Dr. Jenkins has a joint appointment on the faculty of the University of Saskatchewan’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Public Health. She is quite an accomplished uncommon veterinarian and is looking into some pretty cool and important research questions. You can read a short feature article about her work here.
What’s in it for you, besides the MSc or PhD to add at the end of your name? Dr. Jenkins describes it this way:
Successful applicants will gain experience in fieldwork in northern Canada, veterinary techniques, and laboratory and data analysis. Applicants will also gain skills in scientific communication and knowledge translation through presentations at international conferences as well as to community stakeholders.
These are all very useful skills that would translate easily into many types of veterinary public health jobs with government, academia, and even industry.
What About the Money?
Okay, I know this is the big question for most of us. Sure, there are interesting opportunities out there, but how can I really pursue a career change when I’ve got bills to pay?
I e-mailed Dr. Jenkins to find out more details on this funding question. The good thing is that this experience is open to pretty much anyone with at least a bachelor’s degree. I specifically asked about foreign veterinary graduates, and Dr. Jenkins let me know that she would welcome applications from foreign vets. Along with a bachelor’s degree, applicants simply need to meet the admission requirements for the University of Saskatchewan.
North American veterinarians who have passed their boards and are interested in a PhD get the best deal, with guaranteed funding of at least $30,000 a year plus travel expenses. That may not sound like a lot, but given the cost of living in Saskatoon you should be able to manage just fine.
For foreign veterinarians or others who have not yet passed the NAVLE, your stipend would be at least $21,000, and you would have the option of converting to the higher level of funding if you pursue immigrant status in Canada and/or pass the veterinary board exams.
One Opportunity Among Many
I’ve featured this graduate program because of the clear announcement and call for applications. Yes, it sounds really interesting and would make for a fun few years and stepping stone into an uncommon veterinary career.
The more important thing I hope you’ll take from this, however, is that this is just one opportunity among so many others. If you begin digging into the websites of veterinary school research groups, you will find that there are professors looking for graduate students in just about any topic you can imagine.
The vast majority of PhD programs in North America come with their own funding. What does that mean? It means that once you are accepted you simply show up and start getting paid for learning, doing adventurous field work, and making a place for yourself in the scientific community.
You won’t become a millionaire on a grad student stipend, but you won’t go hungry either. You’ll probably be able to place your other student loans on hold while you are a student, and you will be putting yourself in a great position to participate in future government loan repayment programs.
Consider these things as you ponder your future as a veterinarian. We’re so lucky to have an incredible variety of options to us as we think about using our skills and educations to take care of animals and contribute to society.
What questions do you have about this particular opportunity or more generally pursuing a graduate degree? I love responding to your comments and questions!