Job shadowing led student to vet career

Jon Katzman

Jon Katzman of Saskatoon, Sask., says owning and riding horses is one of his biggest assets as a first-year veterinary student. Photo: Debra Marshall.

Veterinary medicine has been Jon Katzman’s career choice since he was a young boy, but an opportunity to job shadow a veterinarian really sealed the deal for the Saskatoon, Sask., resident.

When he was 16, Katzman had the chance to shadow Dr. Susan Ashburner, a clinical associate in the Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinary Medical Centre.

“I saw all the different experiences she had on her field service calls throughout each day. The opportunity to do so many different procedures and to form lasting relationships with clients really appealed to me.”

With his career choice confirmed, Katzman welcomed any chance to work around animals and acquired a variety of experiences with all types of species while talking to veterinarians and learning more about their profession.

In 2010, he entered the University of Saskatchewan’s Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree program majoring in animal science.

“Those undergrad classes played a huge role in developing my background knowledge of various diseases, industry standards and the physiology and anatomy of various animals,” said Katzman, who became a first-year veterinary student at the WCVM in late August.

Katzman and his classmates received an official welcome to the WCVM and to the veterinary profession on Friday, September 28, during a white coat ceremony in Saskatoon, Sask. All 80 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 from the WCVM’s four-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program in 2016, come from communities across Western Canada and the northern territories. The regional veterinary college accepts 20 Saskatchewan-based students each year.

With all the experience he’s acquired working with animals, Katzman believes that owning and riding horses will be one of the biggest assets to him as a veterinary student.

Katzman’s involvement with horses began when he started riding in Grade 8, and he eventually became a skilled competitor in reining events. As a member of the Saskatchewan Reining Horse Association, he’s competed extensively, earning a bronze medal at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championship held in Lexington, Ky, in 2011.

Katzman enjoys reining for the opportunity it gives him to work so closely with a horse – understanding how he sees the world and communicating with him.

“Your movements, thoughts and feelings are intentionally and unintentionally communicated. If you’re nervous or frustrated, so is your horse. Coming out with a good score is just the icing on the cake. You learn so much about how your actions and attitudes can affect others.”

Now that he’s a veterinary student, Katzman particularly enjoys his animal production class. It’s an opportunity to view the industry from a veterinary perspective while learning more about his special interests — animal behaviour and handling.

At this point, Katzman is thinking of focusing on large animal rehabilitation – an opportunity for him to use the skills he’s honed as a reining competitor.

“Reining has allowed me to learn how to read body language – how to know the difference between an animal who is acting normally and one who may be acting strangely because of a medical problem,” said Katzman. “I’d love to treat sports-related injuries and have the safest and best outcome for the animal and the owner.”


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