Southern Pines Equine Associates veterinarians James Hamilton and Thomas Daniel Jr. have a long-standing, successful practice that keeps them busy. It would be easy for them to just focus on the day-to-day demands of a hectic schedule, but fortunately for the future of their profession, they take a longer view.
That’s why, in conjunction with the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Foundation (NCVMF), they established the Equine Memorial Program Fund in 2015. Participating veterinarians donate to the NCVMF in memory of horse and a card is sent to the horse’s owners informing them of the honor. These funds are then used to further the educational goals of aspiring future equine veterinarians.
“The amount of debt incurred by students keeps growing, and there are fewer graduates going into equine medicine today — the number has fallen by 5 or 6 percent,” says Hamilton. “More are going into small animal practice. We’re giving to support the future of our industry and to minimize the financial burden on equine students.”
This year, the decision was made to invest the funds in an annual scholarship in the amount of $5,000 awarded to a deserving student with the goal of practicing equine medicine. “Drs. Hamilton and Daniel worked with us to establish the criteria and to select a recipient,” says Callie Fogle, clinical associate professor of equine surgery. “There was an emphasis on looking for a student from North Carolina who will have a local impact. We looked for a top-tier student with an interest in an equine practice as a way to offset the financial impact of spending an extra year in an internship.”
Internships provide an extra level of experience and training to further prepare a student before entering into a permanent practice. Jennifer Patterson, class of 2017, was informed in December that she had been chosen to receive the scholarship. She was surprised — and grateful.
“I’m so appreciative of it,” says Patterson. “It’s touching that they value my education, and that they’re investing in me for the betterment of the horse.” Fogle said Patterson embodies the qualities they were looking for in a scholarship recipient.
“In addition to being a fantastic student, she’s a collegial, hard-working team player who is driven to learn and do more,” says Fogle. “She’s a very deserving recipient.”
Growing up in Apex, Patterson was always interested in science and considered a career in both human and animal medicine. She was a hunter-jumper rider in high school and volunteered with a local equine veterinarian. It was a logical evolution to end up at the CVM.
“I didn’t really realize it before I came here,” she says, “but you’re helping both the horse and the people — the owner and the trainer. You can really make a difference in someone’s life.”
While she loves horses, Patterson says she is especially drawn to the relationship between people and their horses, the human-animal bond. “I didn’t really realize it before I came here,” she says, “but you’re helping both the horse and the people — the owner and the trainer. You can really make a difference in someone’s life.”
The scholarship will help with Patterson’s plan to spend a year as an intern before entering full-time practice. “That is a big financial decision,” she says. “But I want to use that time to continue to work on my client communication skills. I’ve always been a people person, and I like helping people.” She also appreciates the opportunity to work on her skills managing — or “persuading” — horses. She makes an interesting comparison when discussing it. “Horses are like cats,” she says. “You can’t force them to do things against their will.” She cites her own cat, Ziggy Stardust (yes, that’s really his name), as exhibit A.
Clearly, someone who sees the similarity between cats and horses is a born veterinarian — and more than worthy of being the first recipient of the Equine Memorial Program Fund Scholarship!
Veterinarians who would like more information about participating in the Equine Memorial Fund Program are welcome to contact the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Foundation office at (919) 513-6660.
~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine