For Dr. Chelsey Zurowski, DVM, a graduate of UCalgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM), the path to veterinary medicine has not been straightforward.
“I’ve always been interested in animal sciences and found my niche in it, but I only made the decision to go to the veterinary school during my studies,” says Zurowski. After her bachelor’s degree in zoology, she completed a master’s degree in evolutionary biology, which dealt with the development and evolution of the molars of mammals.
“Really pretty nerdy,” says Zurowski with a laugh. “I studied developmental biology and paleontology, and as I was in college I realized that I needed a little more instant gratification in my life. From there, I applied to the veterinary school and was lucky enough to get in. That’s how my journey began and I’m very happy with it, wouldn’t change anything. “
Adaptability and MacGyvering
Zurowski now works at Animal Medical Center South, a mixed animal practice in Dunmore, Alta. owned by UCVM alumna Dr. Megan Herman, DVM. Her motto: Big or small, we treat them all.
“I love the speed, it never gets boring,” says Zurowski. “You never know what’s next, be it a cat or a dog, an exotic creature like a hedgehog or a guinea pig, or a cow or a horse. You also have some sheep and goat customers, it’s a great mix. “
A key skill that brings her to her new position is adaptability, a skill she has honed over the past year and one that has reasonably mastered the twists and turns of learning during a pandemic. “Whether it’s adapting to a busy schedule, or adapting a treatment plan to an owner’s needs, or adapting to work with what you have and MacGyvering things on the go, how you need them. That’s one of the most helpful things that came out of veterinary school for me. “
Care for mental and physical health is crucial
Through the veterinary school with its demanding program and full curriculum – All-day learning about multiple animal species and all aspects of veterinary medicine in four years – can affect mental and physical health. Zurowski learned the hard way the importance of self-care.
“I didn’t do a good job in the first and second years. In the third year, I and a few classmates made a commitment to start yoga two to three times a week before class at 6 o’clock, ”says Zurowski. “My goodness. That changed everything. It was a bit tiring to get me out of bed, I was a little stunned at 5:30 when my alarm clock went off. But it was nice to have that bit of exercise and that bit of meditation to integrate several times a week in order to be in a healthier mental and physical space. “
Zurowski encourages current students to find out what works for them in terms of mental and physical wellbeing by seeking counseling and other mental health resources and finding physical activities they enjoy – something that can look different for each person.
“I felt that I could perform much better for myself, for my partner, for my family, for my friends and for my classmates.”
It seems to have been worth taking better care of yourself. Zurowski, best of his year, graduated with distinction and two awards: the PH Cribb Award in Rural Veterinary Practice and the Morton Johnston Scholarship for Outstanding Client Care.
It was a wild ride
“I’m very proud of my classmates because we all made it this far,” says Zurowski. “Our original fourth year was completely canceled, and somehow it had to be made up for before the pandemic happened. I think that also plays a role in adaptability. It’s amazing that these rotations have come together, with all of the faculty work to bring us into the fellowship. It was a wild ride, but it’s fantastic that we made it here and made all of our dreams come true. “