Danielle Lang spent three months during the summer of 2012 working, learning, studying, and practicing alongside the veterinarians and staff of Leo’s Pet Care.
Danielle writes about her first summer with Leo’s, August 2012
Before beginning my volunteer experience at Leo’s Pet Care, I expected to simply be an extra assistant at the clinic: observing surgeries and appointments, cleaning, and doing primarily dirty work. I expected to learn how a small animal clinic functioned and a bit about small animal medicine. I chose to seek this volunteer opportunity to gain more veterinary hours in hopes to apply to veterinary school in a few years and solidify my career choice in veterinary medicine.
Even though I anticipated this experience being enlightening and fun, I learned so much more from this than I had expected. On only my first day volunteering I was taught how to draw up vaccines and hold for blood draws, which I had never done before. Jennifer even started to teach me how to work the computer system that day. In a short amount of time I learned how to pull up vaccines, prep medications, hold dogs for blood draws, assist in appointments, prep and monitor for surgery, check in and out clients, schedule and answer client questions, and so much more.
I felt that the Leo’s Pet Care team really wanted me to learn and be an active member of the team. Being taught all these skills has allowed me to learn more than I thought about small animal medicine- from how heartworm disease occurs to the two methods of treating seasonal allergies. Dr. Magnusson also takes the time to teach me about what he is doing and how certain drugs work. He has let me calculate drugs for patients and even shave and clean surgery sites. I absolutely love coming to work here and seeing something new every day. One of the biggest challenges I faced working here was talking to clients. I do not know as much as Dr. Magnusson or the technicians do, but being taught to interact with them, go over medical histories and estimates with them, etc. has shown me how veterinary medicine isn’t just about the crucial relationship with the pet, but also with the people.
I would highly recommend to someone interested in veterinary medicine to volunteer at Leo’s Pet Care because of all the veterinary experience I have gained so far, this has been the most rewarding. I volunteer at a spay and neuter clinic in Gainesville, Florida and what I do there does not even compare to how much I have learned and been able to do here. I am glad that I was able to not only gain hours for veterinary school but also work with an amazing team to help man’s best friends live long, healthy, happy lives. I will never forget the good times we had wrestling dogs and talking to crazy clients. Thanks to Dr. Magnusson, Jennifer, and Jen for all they have taught me and allowed me to see and do this summer!
– Danielle Lang
Dr. Magnusson responds, August 2012
Danielle Lang is one of those truly exceptional students that veterinary schools are dying to get a hold of.
Here at Leo’s Pet Care in Indianapolis, we get calls at least once every week or two from students with dreams of becoming a veterinarian. Most barely make it through the front door. Some hang out a week or two. The truly great ones understand that veterinary medicine is not a goal to be reached, but a lifelong journey. Danielle Lang is one of these exceptional students.
When I was a junior in college, I did as little work as possible during the summer. Danielle on the other hand, was at my clinic every day, on time, dressed and ready to volunteer, unpaid, without fail, for three months straight, all summer long.
And what an exceptional student! By the time she had been here a month, I felt confident trusting Danielle to answer the phones, respond to client questions, check in patients, create and go over estimates, discuss treatments, explain medication administration, and check out patients. Honestly, between the two of us, Danielle and I could have run the whole practice by ourselves.
Danielle asked intensely intelligent questions, researched symptoms and potential treatments in my veterinary textbooks without provocation, gave thoughtful responses to ethical questions, and was never afraid to question her own preconceived notions about veterinary medicine. I think we both learned a lot from our discussions, and I’m excited to welcome Danielle into my noble profession.
Danielle Lang is going to succeed at whatever she sets her mind to, and if veterinary medicine is what she wants, by gum shes going to make it happen. I recommend you invite her into your institution immediately and without hesitation. Students with her drive and passion are exactly what veterinary medicine needs right now.
Greg Magnusson, DVM
Owner, Leo’s Pet Care
Indianapolis, IN, USA
UPDATE: January 4, 2016 – Danielle came back for a visit!!
Thanks again for letting me come in! I had so much fun doing surgery.
I reread what I wrote at the end of summer 2012 (because I totally forgot what I said) and felt inspired by yesterday to write a follow-up. You can keep this for yourself or forward it to other students when you suspect they need it, but wanted to put into words how much I’ve appreciated your help over the years!
I’ll let you know the next time I’m in town!
Danielle’s winter break visit letter, January 2016
Four summers ago, I spent three months volunteering at Leo’s Pet Care. At that time it was a pretty small operation – Dr. Magnusson, two technicians, myself and another student volunteer. It was an intense summer of learning and doing, from assisting behind the scenes to interacting with clients on my own. This summer experience gave me my first real, in-depth exposure to small animal general practice and provided me with knowledge and skills that would assist me in my journey to applying to veterinary school.
This week, I finally had the opportunity to return to Leo’s four years later (well, for more than just a few minutes). I just completed the first semester of my second year at veterinary school and it was interesting to return with a new perspective. Veterinary school is nothing short of tough – endless mounds of information, limited time to commit everything to memory, impending student loans, and an environment that easily allows these stressors to spiral out of control. There’s a constant desire for perfection as well as a sense of failure when we can’t learn it all, and these thoughts can quickly overshadow the reason we put ourselves through this in the first place.
Returning to the clinic and putting hands on a living creature again, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of relief. By the end of the previous semester, I felt so bunt out, and even worse, numb. It became all too easy to lose the desire, the passion, the reason I was there in the first place. I felt ashamed to feel this way, especially since I felt veterinary medicine was my calling since I was 10. It appeared that I had almost forgotten every exciting moment in my veterinary journey so far, from interacting with my first clients to performing my first surgeries. (Or even getting into veterinary school – it’s pretty easy to forget the difficult journey leading up to that moment.)
So why was I feeling relieved? Because I knew that I found that passion again. It returned so quickly I forgot I almost lost it for a moment. As I assisted in surgeries and observed health exams, the spark returned and I realized again why I chose this journey. I love the hands-on experiences, the scientific reasoning, the teamwork involved, and the positive impact on both patients and clients. It’s funny how a few months of school could make me forget all that I loved about this field.
Leo’s has changed a lot since I was there in 2012, but all for the better. It was exciting to see many fresh faces in the clinic, all eager to impact veterinary medicine in their own way. There’s even a whole new practice! However, the best parts remained the same – the commitment to patient care, the ability to serve clients of all walks of life, and the dedication toward student learning and growth. It was exciting to return to Leo’s with a new perspective and chat with Dr. Magnusson and the team about school, work and some of the biggest issues facing veterinary medicine today. This career path involves more than just the medicine, and I believe it’s very important that our colleagues have these conversations. We simply can’t save animals if there’s no one left to practice.
Vet school is tough, but it’s experiences like these that make it all worth it. It may sound strange, but it’s unbelievable the impact one day back in the real world can have. It’s the best feeling when you can look back on your day and see how you’ve made a difference in the world, no matter how big or small. For anyone out there following this journey, don’t be discouraged by all the stressors ahead, but be encouraged to look beyond school once in a while to see that light at the end of the tunnel, no matter what it may be. And equally as important – find mentors that will help you see that light when you feel most trapped in the darkness of school, because they can make one day erase all the troubles of a semester. Although Dr. Magnusson isn’t too happy that I wish to pursue zoo medicine (sorry!), I don’t think he will ever realize how much I utilize his mentorship and how much I appreciate his guidance over the years. Small animal, large animal, zoo medicine, etc. – we are all in this journey together and all striving for the same end goals. We can’t travel this journey alone, so make sure to find a pretty awesome mentor to help you along the way. Thanks again to Dr. Magnusson and the team for a warm welcome back and I hope to return again soon. What a difference a day can make!