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Brandon Kim – Future Human Medical Student, University of Wisconsin-Madison

brandon kim

Butler Biology student Brandon Kim volunteered at Leo’s Pet Care during the fall of 2014. Brandon only stayed with us for a few months, but grew leaps and bounds during that time. In his own words, see what Brandon had to say about his time here:

Sometimes it takes stepping out of your comfort zone to find your path. That is what I did almost 2 years ago when I randomly reached out to Dr. Magnusson about the possibility of shadowing him at Leo’s Pet Care. Little did I know that Dr. Magnusson and his incredible staff would welcome me with open arms and open hearts and let me bumble around and assist in the clinic, all while learning to find my own path in this crazy thing we call life.

When I contacted Dr. Magnusson, I was entering my sophomore year at Butler University, and I recently hung up my helmet and retired my collegiate football career. Leaving the football field, along with my decision to transfer to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the upcoming spring semester, created a significant transitioning period in my life, and I soon realized that I needed to find my passion. I was toying with the idea of veterinary medicine, and it was about time that I chased that idea a little harder. Dr. Magnusson was extremely responsive, and I immediately started helping in the clinic twice a week, learning what it took to be a small animal veterinarian and an owner of a veterinary clinic.

As it turns out, my time at Leo’s Pet Care steered me in a new direction towards human medicine. Instead of looking out for our furry friends, I will be focusing on their owners, as I am on track to begin medical school in the fall of 2017. Quite honestly, my commitment and enthusiasm for human medicine would not be as intense if I did not spend all those hours learning about the veterinary profession.

Leo’s Pet Care taught me about compassion, not only for those cute rascals that we call our pets and best friends, but also the owners who love their animals with all of their heart. I learned about the work ethic that it takes to provide top-notch service to patients so they can leave the clinic with a healthy pet and questions answered. I was thrust into an incredible small business that consistently performs at the top of its class year in and year out, which sparked my interest and undoubtedly drove me to earn a minor in entrepreneurship at UW-Madison.

But I think the most important lesson that I learned during my time with Dr. Magnusson and the rest of his staff, was to find a career that you are passionate about, a career that will make you excited to wake up in the morning and head to work. The cliché phrase do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life couldn’t be more correct for Leo’s Pet Care. The staff was always committed to giving the clients the best care possible, no matter how nippy the kitty or unhappy the dog. And that is what has stuck with me the most from my experience at Leo’s Pet Care. Even though a career in the veterinary field is not the path that I ended up choosing, I gained invaluable knowledge on the importance of finding your calling and chasing that purpose to the end.

So here I am with one more semester of undergrad left until I set off on my next adventure. As I reminisce on my journey from playing football at Butler University to nearing the completion of my undergraduate studies at UW-Madison to applying for medical school, I cannot express enough the importance of Leo’s Pet Care in shaping my life and creating the person I am today. Life is unpredictable and during it, we need mentors to guide us, and I am fortunate enough to say that Dr. Magnusson is a role model for me. His straightforward realism about veterinary medicine and unquestionable love for his clinic and every client that walks through the door has set me on a course that I could not be any more excited to pursue. A big, sloppy puppy kiss and soft kitty purrs to Leo’s Pet Care, Dr. Magnusson, and everyone else that has assisted me in finding my own path. Let’s see where the winds take me next.

Leo’s Pet Care volunteer alumnus,
Brandon Kim

Dr. Magnusson responds:

On first glance at Brandon Kim’s resume, you might wonder how such a bright young man started out his college career aiming for a life playing football, changed gears completely and explored veterinary medicine, and finally settled on human medicine. You might think this young man indecisive, or possibly afraid of commitment. And you would soon find those conclusions exactly wrong.

What I have learned during my time mentoring students, is that a lot of young people think they want something, but they’re not really sure until they try it out. Tragically, many of these students don’t ask themselves what they want to be when they grow up, until long after they’ve been accepted into an institute of higher education, which of course, is far too late.

I often wonder how many doctors, lawyers, and other professionals find themselves disillusioned with their chosen career halfway through college, and spend the rest of their lives in a career they don’t love. In veterinary medicine, certainly, our profession is learning that choosing a career path that doesn’t bring you constant joy has a way of bringing you constant struggle instead.

And so, Brandon Kim. This young man grew up in a medical family, with an anesthesiologist father and a pediatrician mother, and so was raised in what you would think would be the ideal environment to nurture a future doctor. But Brandon isn’t the kind of young man to blindly follow just any path. He wanted to know that whatever profession he ended up choosing was something he truly enjoyed, that equally fulfilled his intellectual curiosity and his emotional needs, and could do so for the rest of his life.

Being blessed with athleticism, Brandon did explore a career in sports. What I find most interesting, is that he didn’t leave football because he didn’t think he was good enough to make a career out of it – he certainly was – but that he knew a career in football, no matter how lucrative and fulfilling it might be, came with a guaranteed early expiry date, and would leave him retired in his 30’s.

Brandon is the kind of man who enjoys a challenge, and constantly pushes himself. Rather than choose a career of fame and fortune but a defined ending, he decided to explore veterinary medicine, the poorest paying medical profession with the highest suicide rate on the planet.

Showing up on time and ready to work each shift he was scheduled, Brandon jumped in and learned how to run our clinic from front to back. He checked in clients, restrained pets and asked intelligent questions during my physical examinations, negotiated financial and medical treatment plans with clients, drew lab samples and other necessary physical tasks, gave injections, took xrays, ran the computers, and quickly and correctly completed every task he was given. Brandon and I enjoyed many philosophical discussions about what it meant to be a veterinarian, the pros and cons of veterinary medicine vs. human medicine, and the ins and outs of my small business.

Far from shying away from the challenges of veterinary medicine, Brandon found his favorite part of the job was treating the people at the other end of the leash. While many boys and girls grow up dreaming of becoming a veterinarian, when he tried it for himself, Brandon found his heart healing humans.

I consider it a massive success when one of our volunteer alumni abandons veterinary medicine and finds their true calling. I know that my profession can only survive when staffed by the most committed, passionate animal lovers, and I can only assume the medical profession is the same.

They say if you love something, let it go. Brandon Kim was raised around medicine, tried on every other career that interested him, and found his way back to medicine. With that breadth and depth of experience under his belt, you can be assured that this young man is 100% committed to his medical career, and will not waver from his chosen path.

Veterinary medicine is a little poorer for having lost Brandon, but if I ever get sick, I hope someone with his passion and level of commitment to medicine is treating me.