As part of ValuePenguin's Future of Veterinary Care series, we will be interviewing students across the nation’s pre-veterinary and veterinary programs to learn more about their experiences and paths towards becoming certified veterinarians.
Stephen Reichley is an Ohio State University student finishing his final year of studies at the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. We recently caught up with Stephen to discuss his experience at Ohio State and why he thinks more people should consider a career in the veterinary field.
What influenced you to pursue a vet program?
I developed an interest in veterinary medicine after a few years in the horse world. I helped an equine vet occasionally during his visits to the barn where I worked and gradually started paying closer attention to what he was doing. After expressing an interest in veterinary medicine during high school, I was invited to participate in a Veterinary Explorers Program, which consisted of monthly meetings at a local specialty animal hospital. That led to additional shadowing which enhanced my interest in small animal medicine and orthopedics. Next thing I knew I was working at the local clinic getting a taste of general practice. I continued working there over the summers throughout my undergraduate studies and decided that veterinary medicine was what I wanted to do as a career.
Why should other students consider a focus in Veterinary Medicine?
When I was accepted to veterinary school my family and friends asked if I was going to practice small or large animal medicine. My response was small animal as most of my experience was in small animal general practice and orthopedic surgery. But as I progressed through my coursework in vet school I realized veterinarians do so much more than small or large animal clinical medicine. Veterinarians are involved in public health, food safety, zoo and wildlife medicine, animal and human health research, and many other industries. We had a visiting professor tell us that if we only apply for jobs that list DVM as a requirement we are missing out on 80% of the jobs we are qualified to do. To this day when I tell people I am in vet school the first question they ask is if I do small animal or large animal medicine. I enjoy responding with fish health and taking a moment to educate them that veterinarians are involved with so much more than clinical medicine. I think students should consider veterinary medicine because it offers so many different career paths and provides opportunities for people with all backgrounds and interests.
What has been your experience with OSU generally, and veterinary medicine more specifically?
My experience at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine has been phenomenal. While preparing for veterinary school I had a notion that it would be a difficult curriculum and a large time investment. Vet school had this aura of a competitive field with some of the most intelligent people in the world.
From the first time I stepped foot at Ohio State as an applicant I felt a sense of belonging. The faculty, staff, and student body truly is one large family. I have been pushed to achieve things I never dreamt possible, instilled with knowledge from leaders in their respective fields, and treated as a valued member of the veterinary profession every step of the journey. I became heavily involved with the college; working in the Student Affairs office assisting students, applicants, faculty, staff, alumni, and donors; became a member of the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Student Council helping shape policies and organize the Annual Open House for the college; served as a member of the College Executive Committee; and held various positions in student organizations. I feel very fortunate to be a student at Ohio State and owe the college a great debt of gratitude for all I have learned during my tenure here.
Veterinary medicine is one of the best professions and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. During my travels, veterinarians around the globe have embraced me and shown a great deal of hospitality. The camaraderie within the profession is amazing. Veterinarians I had never met before were helping with transportation, hosting me at their house, showing me around their cities and countries, and selflessly taking the time to teach me. Veterinarians are great people who do great work for animals, people, and the environment.
Please share and describe your best experience working with animals.
I have been very fortunate to have a wide variety of aquaculture jobs and externships. These include time at the Thad Cochran National Warmwater Aquaculture Center in Mississippi; Idaho Department of Fish and Game; the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science and Havbrukstjenesten AS in Norway; University of Stirling Institute of Aquaculture, the Scottish Government’s Fish Health Inspectorate, and Fish Vet Group in the United Kingdom; Vet Aqua International in Ireland; Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Italy; Clear Springs Foods in Idaho; and the United States Department of Agriculture in Florida and Washington, D.C. Each of these experiences presented unique opportunities to expand my knowledge of aquatic animal health and the aquaculture industry on global, national, and state levels. Please share an interesting or little-known fact you’ve learned about animals.
One of the most interesting things I’ve learned about animals in veterinary school is the similarity across species. It is amazing how different animals like rats, dogs, horses, hippos, and elephants can have so much in common.
What are the latest developments or trends in veterinary medicine?
I think one of the most meaningful developments in veterinary medicine is the One Health Initiative. This is a global strategy for interdisciplinary collaborations and communications in all aspects of health care for humans, animals, and the environment. It leads to an expanding knowledge base, practical and applied research, and improved education of health care providers. Veterinarians are poised to lead this effort as we receive interdisciplinary training and a majority of the new and emerging diseases affecting humans across the globe come from or through animals. The interface between these two populations continues to become more complex and intertwined.
What are your future aspirations and career plans?
After graduation in May I will be starting a PhD program at Mississippi State University focusing on fish health and epidemiology. Mississippi State has a world-renowned aquaculture program and serves as a global leader in the industry. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from their talented faculty and position myself for a meaningful career in the aquaculture industry.