The road to veterinary medicine is not always linear, especially for first-year veterinary student Stacey Thomas. Unlike many of her peers, she entered the profession later in life.
“It’s [been] a bit of a winding road. It’s not a straight shot in comparison to many of my classmates…this will be a second career [for me], as I am starting veterinary school at the young age of 43 after having a very exciting career in human medicine,” she explains. “I’ll be looking at 46 when I graduate, but that’s okay because I don’t feel like that’s a bad thing.”
In this episode of The Vet Blast Podcast, Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, talks with Thomas about her transition from human to animal medicine, the life-changing moment that sparked her switch, and what it’s been like starting veterinary school during a pandemic.
Thomas tells Christman that an incident back in 2008 was the driving force behind her career change. She and her partner at the time, were on their way to a New Year’s Eve party when the car in front of them hit a dog and left it for dead. Wrought with emotion, Thomas was bombarded with thoughts like, “How do I help this dog?” and “Is there someone I can call to get help for this dog?” She realized there was no ambulance for pets, so she and her partner took the dog to get care. Fortunately, the lucky pooch made a full recovery.
Soon after this life-altering event, Thomas and her partner started a nonprofit pet ambulance service. After learning animal first aid and CPR, she decided to take veterinary school prerequisite courses. Her life, however, took a few unanticipated turns, so she wasn’t able to start veterinary school until last year.
So far, Thomas says veterinary school has been both a rewarding but challenging experience. “It’s a mixed bag of everything that I thought it would be, and nothing of what I thought it would be.” She didn’t anticipate starting school in a pandemic and taking all courses and exams from home. But overall, she says it’s been a great experience. Between the copious amount of coffee she’s been drinking, the lack of sleep, and late-night studying, she’s been working on finding a balance.
Listen below to hear more about Thomas’s unconventional journey.