10 Questions for Dr. Kathy Van Buer

1)  How old were you when you knew you wanted to become a veterinarian?

I knew that I wanted to go into medicine since I was about 3 years
old. My mom was a nurse and I was always treating all of my dolls,
stuffed animals, live pets and other critters that I would find. I
decided specifically on veterinary medicine in college, although spent
a lot of time with animals throughout my childhood.
2)  What is the best thing about being a veterinarian?

The best part is actually getting to work with a huge variety of
critters from tiny animals like hummingbirds and sugar gliders to
turtles, dogs, cats and guinea pigs to really big animals like
elephants and giraffes! I only wish unicorns and dragons were real! I
find the wide variety of animals and various adaptations to their
various environments absolutely amazing and am honored to get an
opportunity to work with them all.
3)  What have been your most interesting cases?  

I’ve had lots of really cool cases over time.
The penguins from a zoo had been getting sick and dying and we found out
they were eating the lead pellets that were dropping out of the lead
belts the pool cleaners were wearing…or

 The case of a missing snake
(We found that the other snake in the cage had eaten it- radiographs
showed a snake in a snake)!…or

 The case of a dog from Florida with a
rash that turned out to be an unusual parasitic worm that had formed
inside blisters in it’s skin, easily treated with dewormer medication
once we knew the cause.
4.  What  is the most difficult part of being a veterinarian?

 When there really isn’t anything much that I can do to help a patient, as I really like to fix things and make the animals all better. Oh, and paperwork- yuck!
5. Why did you become a veterinarian instead of a human doctor?

 As a veterinairan every day is different. I get to be actively involved in all aspects of care of each animal from birth to death including preventative care, surgery, and diagnositics and am able to be a part of the pet’s family as well. No two days are ever the same and life is never boring!
6.  Aside from loving animals, what other unique qualities do you think it takes to become a veterinarian?

Learning to read and interpret the animals’ symptoms since they can’t talk. In addition, you have to be rather creative, thinking outside the box, finding new uses for items, etc.  Constantly learning new things and adapting old things to new situations.  Problem solving and extrapolating from one species to the next.
7.  What changes have you seen in veterinary medicine since your parents time?

There have been huge advances in human and animal medicine. Pets are more a part of the family. Increased technology in information sharing and diagnostics. More specialists available and referrals. Increased interest in exotic and nontraditional animals.
8.  Other than species , what do you think the main differences are between human and veterinary medicine?

 Patients can’t talk so  you need to read signals, pay attention to small details, listen to owner observations to get information. Pets are the property of owners so treatment depends on owner decisions,  there are few pets with insurance so may have limited resources despite ability to treat problems. There is a
lot of emotional attachment to pets. Degrees of pet care expectations
vary with the owner. Many costs regarding patient care and equipment
are the same but much lower fees can be charged for pets. Few
medicines are actually made specifically for animals. Euthanasia is an
9. What do you think the new horizons in veterinary  medicine will be?

 Advances in human medicine will also allow for advances in animal medicine especially regarding cancer treatments. More referral and specialty practices. Gene studies are likely to play a role in animal health futures as they will in human health.
10. If you could wave a magic wand and do it all over again, would you?

 Yes- being a veterinarian has allowed me so many unique and amazing opportunities that I wouldn’t want to miss them by doing something else!

Ten Questions You’ve always wanted to Ask Your Veterinarian

Have you ever wondered what motivates someone to become veterinarian?  We have.  So this week we decided to find out why Animal Family’s Dr. Scott Bernick chose his career path. 

  1. How old were you when you decided to become a veterinarian?  ” I was nine years old.”  Really?  That’s very young to be so certain what you want to do.    “I grew up on a farm and spent a lot of time working with the animals there.  I always admired our farm vet.”  So why small animals?  I raised hunting dogs when I was young and that sparked my interest in small animals.”
  2. What is the best part of your job?  “You get to interact with many wonderful pets and their owners.  We see a lot different species and have clients from all different walks of life.  It’s  really the best of both worlds.”
  3. What’s the most interesting case you’ve ever had?   “Addison’s disease is very rewarding to treat.  The dog’s present as very sick.  Often they are almost flat out.  As the veterinarian we provide  the proper medication and treatment and the pet is nearly back to normal within hours!”
  4. What’s the most difficult part of your job?  When the pet can’t tell you what is wrong.  Sometimes it would be so much help if they could just speak.  We learn to  rely a lot on our owners, on  blood and other lab work and of course  on our experience.”
  5. Why become a vet when you could have just as easily gone into human medicine and made more money? ” You get to deal with animals that cannot help themselves. That may sound like a simple statement but it means the world to those of us in the profession.”
  6. We know that you have to like animals for this job but what are the other unique requirements? A veterinarian absolutely must be able to communicate with the animal’s owner.  They are an integral part of the success of any diagnosis we make or treatment we undertake.  Veterinary medicine is as much about people as pets.”
  7. How has veterinary medicine changed since your parent’s time?  More specialists.  Even though a veterinarian still wears many hats, there are now more specialty practices we can turn to when we have a more complex case.”
  8. Even though both jobs require the same amount of education; how does veterinary medicine differ from human medicine beyond the obvious question of species? “Human medicine has easier access to specialty practices, however, veterinarians are often required to be the general practitioner, surgeon, ophthalmologist, internist, dentist, etc. This makes our practice both more interesting and more difficult.  In veterinary medicine we still see the bulk of our cases through from start to finish.  That is often not the case in human medicine.  I think that allows us to develop strong relationships with our clients and their pets.  We become very invested in the well being of our patients. 
  9. What do you think the new horizons for veterinary medicine will be?   Cancer treatments are becoming more common and we are seeing more successful outcomes. Today, pets are a part of the family.  Their owners want to do more to both extend and improve the quality of their pet’s lives.
  10.  If someone gave you a magic wand and you could go back and do it over again, would you still become a vet?  ‘Absolutely!!”