UVP 006: One Health & Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Cheryl Scott

Cheryl-Scott-UC-DavisDr. Cheryl Scott is a wildlife veterinarian and director of the Calvin Schwabe One Health Project at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also involved with the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security and has recently taken on a formal role helping the vet school recruit students with more diverse backgrounds and career interests.

Sounds like the epitome of an uncommon veterinarian, right? But there’s more!

Dr. Scott actually started out as a nurse and then became a nurse practitioner, working with the Peace Corps and the International Red Cross all over the world. In her mid-30s and with a five-year-old daughter, she decided to pursue the dream of applying to veterinary school. She maintains both her veterinary and nursing licenses, making her one of the few strictly defined “One Health” practioners!

Performing surgery on an eider in Alaska.

Performing surgery on an eider in Alaska.

Dr. Scott graduated from vet school in 1994 with $90,000 in student loans, so she understands the financial realities for today’s veterinary graduates. She shares how she paid them off ahead of schedule and explains why she doesn’t think this factor should affect most students’ career goals. Yes, it is a burden, but not an insurmountable one by any means.

What You Will Learn in This Episode

Examining an island fox in CA.

Examining an island fox in CA.

  • Why you shouldn’t believe all the negativity that sometimes comes from family, friends, and professors when they hear about your uncommon veterinary goals
  • Why she highly recommends small animal clinical experience for everyone interested in becoming a wildlife veterinarian
  • How she managed to do 20 externships covering various aspects of wildlife health during vet school
  • How a two-week contract with a wildlife biologist in Texas to help trap ocelots turned into an constant stream of paid field wildlife work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency
  • The #1 quality she looks for when choosing student externs and new hires (hint: it’s not academic performance!)
  • Why she chose the Master of Preventive Veterinary Medicine (MPVM) program rather than a more widely recognized traditional Master of Public Health (MPH) degree
  • Why you shouldn’t let people talk you out of pursuing your dreams as an uncommon veterinarian
Flying across Alaska.

Flying across Alaska.

The Interview

You’ll notice that the voice of the interviewer sounds a little bit different this time around. That’s because this is my first guest podcast! UC Davis pre-vet student Mark Cayabyab has been volunteering as my Uncommon Veterinarian digital intern for the last few months, and he proposed and conducted this interview. You probably remember Mark’s previous contributions to the blog, in which he discussed his undergraduate internships in turtle medicine and fish pathology.

Thank you to everyone who has rated the podcast or left reviews for it on iTunes! If you haven’t had a chance yet, take a minute to head on over to leave an honest review. I really appreciate your support.

Do any of you have uncommon vets in your life that you are dying to share with the rest of us? Let me know in the comment section below and we’ll see if we can figure something out!

Here’s the audio file, which you can listen to here or download for more convenient listening in the car, at the gym, or while you’re out walking the dogs. This episode is about 30 minutes long.

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14 Responses to “UVP 006: One Health & Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Cheryl Scott”

  1. Ian November 1, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

    Thank you so much for this podcast. I feel like this particular interview is very relatable to my future goals and my situation.

    • Elliott November 5, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

      Glad to hear it, thanks for letting me know Ian!

  2. Josh November 17, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    Dear Elliot,
    What is your opinion? I am a senior in Highschool and am really am passionant about veterinary medicine. Lately, however, all those articles on student debt and job availability have really been weighing hard on me. Do you think that someone, If determined enough, could overcome all of that and become a veterinarian with a minimal debt load? Should I worry about those articles?


    • Elliott January 9, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

      Josh, I think I responded over e-mail but I’ll put some of it here too. Thanks for your thoughtful questions.

      If you’ve spent much time exploring the website, you probably know that I’m one of our profession’s biggest cheerleaders. I think it’s important to understand the realities of the career path, but I don’t think this honest assessment should be turning anyone away.

      It sounds like you have the passion and drive to achieve your goals, so I have no reason to believe that you won’t be successful in making this happen. Good luck!

  3. Sarah January 6, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    I’ve enjoyed all the interview podcasts you’ve done (something interesting to listen to on cross-country African bus trips!), but this was my favorite. Besides the fact that Dr. Scott has the job that I dream about, she was overall just very inspirational. Although we’ve had different life paths in many ways, we do have some things in common – I’m serving in Peace Corps now, and by the time I take all the pre-req classes I’ll be around the same age starting vet school. It was great to hear from someone who makes it sound do-able and less daunting. 🙂

    • Elliott January 7, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

      Sarah, thanks for chiming in here to share your thoughts. I love knowing that my podcasts are being listened to on cross-country African bus trips! I hope you’ll be able to maintain the inspiration and drive that has gotten you where you are now as you continue down this path.

  4. Codi Scott February 25, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

    First of all I would like to say I am Cheryl’s daughter. I am incredibly proud of my mother with everything that she has had to overcome to do the things she has done in her life, and raising me at the same time. It wasn’t always easy for us but in the long run completely worth it. I look up to her as a mother, vet, friend and we talk every day. Thank you for sharing her story with the masses and I hope to see more wonderful podcasts in the future. 🙂

    • Elliott April 3, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

      This is so great, Codi! Thank you for commenting. I agree that your mom has a very inspiring story. I’ve been slacking on the podcasts for a long while now, but I’m hoping to kick back into gear one of these days…

  5. Brooke March 9, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

    This is the most amazing podcast yet, not only because I needed some inspiration right now (in the midst of everyone telling me why I CANT go to vet school!), but because Dr. Scott has just the perfect words of wisdom and encouragement. I cannot even think of a more exciting career, but the road she took was so curvy and unconventional, it truly gives me hope that I can end up there someday. THANK you for this, I have new hope!

    • Elliott April 3, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

      Awesome! I hope you can maintain that inspiration through more hurdles to come.

  6. Shayne April 17, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

    How do you find these amazing vets? Dr. Scott is such an inspiration, i had no idea there were people out there like her. Her words give me so much hope and energy, It must have been a guardian angel that led me to this podcast. I must say, for those of us who struggle, who have taken a path full of hurdles and “downs”, she is a light for us. to see where she has gotten in spite of the downs, is truly energizing. Wow.

  7. Lars Eden April 17, 2014 at 7:23 pm #

    Like everyone else, I am so in awe of Dr. Scott. How can one person do all this, she gives me so much hope I can too, have some affects on the world. Can you put this on you tube, I want to share her with all my friends? thank you for this rad podcast.

  8. Kael November 19, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

    I know I am late listening to this podcast, but now that I have found you Elliott I am so grateful. Dr. Scott has saved me. I used to believe what everyone was telling me, ‘you can’t go to vet school’ ‘it is too hard to get into’ Now with hearing the message from Dr. Scott, she has literally given me a new outlook, and pushed me to start school again. I choose to believe positive people like her instead of the naysayers. And I THANK you for leading me to her!!


  1. Pawsitive Careers | Amazing Types of Veterinarian Jobs from Around the World - January 5, 2014

    […] Dr. Cheryl Scott – One Health and Wildlife Veterinarian – Great information here on following the uncommon career path. […]

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