Alberta cowgirl finds niche in vet med

First-year student Bailee Stanton of Kananaskis, Alta. Photo: Debra Marshall.

First-year student Bailee Stanton of Kananaskis, Alta. Photo: Debra Marshall.

Bailee Stanton of Kananaskis, Alta., believes that her entire life contributed to her choice of veterinary medicine as a career.

“I grew up on a ranch, I’ve always had an animal-oriented lifestyle and I’ve always been very interested in science, so it seems like veterinary medicine is where I belong,” says Stanton, who began classes at the University of Saskatchewan’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine in late August.

Stanton and her classmates received an official welcome to the WCVM and to the veterinary profession on Friday, September 30, during a white coat ceremony in Saskatoon, Sask. All 79 first-year students received personalized white lab coats and stethoscopes from representatives of national and provincial veterinary medical associations during the evening ceremony.

The new students, who will graduate in 2015, come from communities across Western Canada and the northern territories. The regional veterinary college accepts 20 Alberta-based students each year.

In addition to her animal handling experience, Stanton brings with her a wealth of knowledge about economics and communications that she acquired while working on her family’s guest ranch. She also finished three years of a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree at the University of Alberta before coming to the WCVM.

Another key part of Stanton’s background is a very successful rodeo career: she has competed in amateur, professional and college rodeos, and her titles include the Canadian Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (CIRA) 2009 Barrel Racing Champion, 2011 Season Leader in Barrel Racing and Pole Bending and 2011 All Around Cowgirl.

Stanton has learned a lot from her rodeo experiences. “Competing and being so dedicated to an extremely turbulent sport while studying very hard in school has taught me a tremendous amount about perseverance, time-management and just plain happiness.”

It’s also taught her a lot about dealing with disappointment after working hard for success. She foresees those experiences helping her to cope with the stresses of school: “I’ve learned that the whole world doesn’t come crashing down because of one bad result. It’s just a motivation to work harder the next time.”

Stanton and her classmates join more than 235 veterinary students who are already enrolled in the WCVM’s four-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program. After a recent $74-million building upgrade, the veterinary college offers its students world-class facilities and resources including a veterinary medical centre that provides advanced diagnostic technologies, specialized services and community programs to western Canadian clients.

At this point, Stanton isn’t set on any particular career path – mainly because she has such a variety of interests. Although she’s always thought about a career in the horse industry, she’s already encountered some new interests through her undergraduate classes.

“I’m really keen on what I have learned about immunology, reproduction and infectious diseases,” Stanton observes. “I expect that as I learn more about them, I’ll begin to narrow down what it is that I really want to do. But either way, I’m a horse person for life, and I’d love to incorporate horses into whatever aspect of veterinary medicine I choose as a career path.”

For now she’s relishing all of her experiences as a first-year student at the WCVM. “We all have so much in common but everyone has an interesting and different background,” says Stanton. “You can definitely tell that WCVM finds personality very important in veterinarians because my class is full of great people.”

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