Abigail (Abby) Hart has volunteered for and worked at Leo’s Pet Care since 2015, and will become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 2023.
Here is what Abby had to say after the first summer:
Abby Hart writes, August 2015:
Becoming a vet seemed like the perfect career choice for me; I loved animals and I wanted to be able to be a part of their health and well-being. After coming to this realization of what I wanted to do with my life, I started researching everything I needed to do in order to stand out and look competitive once it was time to apply to a veterinarian program. The first thing that every vet program emphasized the most was experience. I knew getting enough experience and references for vet school was going to take some time and effort, so during the second semester of my freshman year I was searching online for potential jobs or volunteer opportunities at vet clinics. I searched, called, contacted, and went into multiple different clinics in the areas surrounding Indy. Several vet clinics told me the exact same thing: they couldn’t hire me because I had no experience in the veterinarian field, or if they did hire me I would be cleaning kennels all day long.
Leo’s was the first vet clinic I walked into where the employees treated me as something other than just some inexperienced college student looking to “play with puppies and kittens” all day. Dr. Magnusson was the only doctor that was willing to contact me and he emailed me back the same day that I came into the clinic, offering me a day to come into his clinic to shadow and observe how he runs his vet clinic. I quickly accepted his offer and was so grateful that he was so willing to take on a college student with no training or previous experience in the veterinary field.
I started volunteering at Leo’s Pet Care in the beginning of May and was excited to start learning everything I could possibly fit in my brain for the 3 months I was there. I expected to watch Dr. Magnusson and his team do their daily work while I quietly observed. I mean, they were the professionals and I was just an inexperience college student. However, the reality was so much better. Since day one, all of the vet techs- Angel, Ruthie, and Jen- allowed me to do everything and anything that I wanted to do, while patiently teaching, explaining, and sometimes re-explaining everything to me. I started out small, learning how to draw up vaccines, do nail trims, filling out paperwork, and checking in patients. As the summer went on, Dr. Magnusson and the vet techs allowed to me to do as much hands-on work as I could handle; from drawing blood to doing dental cleanings on patients. Dr. Magnusson even allowed to watch him do surgeries, which was the best part of the job in my mind. He not only let me observe the surgeries, he explained everything he was doing and why he was doing it. Surgery was the one thing I was looking forward too when I started at LPC and watching Dr. Magnusson perform several different surgeries was the most amazing experience he could have given me.
The phenomenal experience that I received at Leo’s Pet Care is what solidified my career choice. Working with Dr. Magnusson, Jen, Ruthie, Angel, Dr. Stoots, and even the other volunteers- Ali, Kristen, Brooke, and Eshan- is what made my summer volunteer experience at Leo’s Pet Care so unique and special and I couldn’t have found this kind of experience at any other vet clinic. All of them were patient, kind, hard-working individuals and I’m so grateful they made my time at LPC so much fun. Dr. Magnusson taught me so many invaluable lessons while I was working at the clinic and he’s given me the skills and determination to one day become as great of a vet as he is.
I’m so grateful to Dr. Magnusson and his team for allowing me to come into the clinic and learn as much from them as I possibly could. I couldn’t have asked for a better clinic to volunteer at for the summer and I’m thankful that every employee was patient enough to take the time to make sure I was learned everything I could this summer and made sure I did everything right. After working at the clinic and working with the amazing staff for the summer, I know that becoming a vet is truly what I want to do and I have Leo’s Pet Care to thank for that.
An addendum from Abby after her second summer, August 2016:
I was so excited and grateful to have Dr. Magnusson allow me to come back and work at Leo’s Pet Care for my second summer. My experience last year was absolutely amazing and I was ready for whatever incredible opportunities he had ready for me this summer. However, Dr. Magnusson went above and beyond with the endless opportunities he provided me. After last summer, I could do the basics: trim nails, check clients in and take their payments, answer phones, run an appointment, help out with vaccines and blood draws, and restrain cats and dogs for different procedures. But this summer, my experience grew far more than I would have ever imagined. And it is all thanks to Dr. Magnusson, Jen, Kristen, Brooke, Angel, Maddie, Sara, and Rob!
I knew this summer was going to be different from my last summer. I was a year older, a year closer to applying to veterinary school, and I had worked at LPC last summer, so I knew how the clinic ran. Getting back into the routine was easy and everyone at the clinic was so patient as I remembered how to do everything they had taught me last year. However, Dr. Magnusson wanted me to do more than just the nail trims, vaccines, restraints, blood draws, etc. that I had learned last year. He wanted me to expand my knowledge and experience, and build upon what I already knew. He wouldn’t let me just continue to do the things I already learned, he pushed me to discover and try new things around the clinic that I didn’t do last summer. So that’s what I did! I asked questions about procedures, drugs, anatomy, and anything else I could think of. I asked if I could do dental procedures, I practiced placing catheters, I offered to do anal gland expression, and I did any other task they would allow me to do. I observed as much as I possible could, from surgeries to how Dr. Magnusson examines pets during appointments. I wanted to absorb as much information as I possible could this summer and show Dr. Magnusson I was just as enthusiastic about my learning as he was. And by doing this, my knowledge about the veterinary profession and how a practice is run grew so much! I can proudly say that I know how to draw blood, trim nails, pull up vaccines, place catheters, express anal glands, run an appointment, talk with clients, and so much more.
This summer I wanted to get as much experience I could and get as much information from Dr. Magnusson that I could before I apply to veterinary school. But again, Dr. Magnusson had other ideas to try and broaden my understanding of the veterinary profession, aside from doing tasks around the clinic. He didn’t just want me to gain experience with general practice, he wanted me to start thinking about what I wanted to do after I graduate vet school and wanted me to discover my passion. So he arranged a wide variety of shadowing opportunities for me with different specialty doctors. I shadowed a surgeon, oncologist, internal medicine, and an exotic vet over the course of the summer. On these days I would observe the doctor in that specialty and learn about their jobs, their lives, and start thinking about if this was a potential path I would be interested in pursuing in the future. I observed and experienced some amazing procedures and cases from each of these veterinarians. Following these different vets around for a day was such a great experience that not only adds to my resume for vet school, but also showed me that I need to start thinking about my future. There are so many different avenues to take in the veterinary field, and by setting up the shadowing days, Dr. Magnusson showed that he is really passionate about helping me discover what I want to do with my life. I will always be thankful for how Dr. Magnusson went far beyond my expectations for this summer and made sure I get every experience he could possibly get me.
To go along with working in the clinic during the summer, I decided to knock out some prerequisite classes for vet school. I was taking two classes while I was working at LPC and Dr. Magnusson couldn’t have been more supportive! He allowed me to work half days on the days I had class and he even gave me a full day at the clinic to work on homework so I wouldn’t fall behind on my studies. The support I receive from Dr. Magnusson and everyone else I work with at LPC just goes to show how completely invested they are in my education, in and out of the classroom. They will work with my crazy school schedule and give me time off so that I can do the best I can in my academic work. They not only want me to gain as much experience as I can from working at LPC, but they also want me to do well in my classes so that I can make my goal of going to vet school a reality. So whether it’s supporting me as I do as much as I can in the clinic, or shadowing doctors to figure out my future, or encouraging me with my school work, Dr. Magnusson and all the other awesome people I work with invest everything they can into my education so that one day I can call myself a DVM.
This summer was so much more than I ever thought it could have been. Dr. Magnusson went above and beyond with teaching me and making sure I get as much practice I can get before applying and eventually going to vet school. He really pushed me to expand my knowledge and pushed me to try new things. He is not only an amazing mentor and extremely patient for taking me on during the summer, but he really wants me to succeed in whatever path I choose for myself in the future. He wants me to discover everything I possibly can, and he works so hard to make sure I can do everything I want to. After working for LPC for my second summer, I can honestly say there is no other place like it. I’ve had experiences and opportunities other pre-vet students could dream of and I have Dr. Magnusson and all of my other colleagues at LPC to eternally thank for that. They are all so invested in my learning and expanding my knowledge of the veterinary field. They are such an amazing and special group of people, and I would not be where I am today in my learning process without their patient guidance and their dedication to me, the other student volunteers, and the LPC practice.
Dr. Magnusson responds, August 2015:
Abby reminds me a lot of myself at her age. A Biology student, fresh into her second year of college, moving into her new apartment with no furniture, with loving parents backing her up at home and helping her make the big move back to IU Bloomington.
I’m very pleased to have met Abby, and truly enjoyed hosting her at our clinic for the summer. She greeted every day happily, soaked up knowledge and experience like a sponge, and her upbeat attitude kept her colleagues smiling.
Abby’s courage is especially noteworthy. All summer long, she always seemed to walk into the exam rooms with the biggest, struggliest, wiggliest dogs, and often managed to walk away with some kind of scratch or bruise to mark her victory. At first this seemed like a string of bad luck, but I soon learned the truth: Abby was often the only person in the building brave enough to get her hands dirty and jump into the ring with any pet assigned to her, without fear. When everyone else backed away, Abby stepped up. After a while, if I saw a dog I knew was a challenge, I’d seek Abby out on purpose to help me, because I knew she had the guts to get the job done. This developed into a bit of a running joke between us, as she knew if I came for her, we were both about to get our butts kicked. What actually isn’t funny, is that whether she knew it or not, I truly began to depend on Abby to help me handle our toughest cases.
I’m not surprised Abby enjoyed surgical observation best, because she’s got the kind of fascinated curiosity that’s only fed by seeing how things work. Like a true medical scientist, Abby realizes the quickest way to get to the root of a problem is to know your subject inside and out, figuratively and literally. I have a feeling it’s less the blood and guts of surgery that Abby enjoys, and more the mechanics of discovering how her patients are wired, so she can put them back together again when they’re broken. Whatever her motives, anatomy and surgery do seem to play a role in Abby’s future. I believe that if Abby decides to become a surgeon, she will be brave enough to tackle the tough cases others shy away from.
Actually, now that I write this and relect on it, Abby is less like the person I actually was at her age, and more like the person I wished I was. She’s braver than I was, kinder than I was, happier than I was, and more confident than I was. Abby is going to make a great veterinarian, and I’ll be pleased to welcome her back here next year as she furthers her studies, or encourage her on to whatever challenge she decides to tackle next. Whatever that challenge is, I know Abby will crush it.
UPDATE – Abby writes about her most recent winter break visit, January 2017
I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked at Leo’s Pet Care since the summer of 2015. Each year I learn so much more about the veterinary field, and the struggles and achievements that come with wanting to join this profession. Each year Dr. Magnusson teaches me so much about the highs and lows of running your own practice. But more than anything, working for this fantastic business for the past couple summers has showed me that having such a loving, supportive, and amazing family like we have here at Leo’s is the most important and most vital aspect of having a successful business and teaching environment for students. I was inspired to write this short, unprompted piece for Dr. Magnusson because of the incredibly thoughtful and loving blog post written by our very own Tamara!
Tamara beautifully captured the essence of working at Leo’s Pet Care: everyone brings their own work ethic, background, thoughts, actions, and unique characteristics that seamlessly blend together. Each person can and has taught me new things every single day I come into work, which has caused me to grow tremendously since my first summer here; a fact I’m sure Dr. Magnusson, Jen, Angel, Brooke, and Kristen can attest to. Working at LPC is not just learning about becoming a future vet, it’s learning how to be a part of a team, working together to provide the best veterinary service we can for our dedicated clients. We share the workload so that not one single person is doing all of the work and ask for help when we need it. The great thing about having such an amazing family at LPC is that someone is always jumping at the opportunity to help when you ask them, but we also make sure that everyone is well equipped to handle a million different things at once, because let’s face it, life will throw you a million things at once.
I am infinitely grateful for the insight Dr. Magnusson has given me into the veterinary profession and running your own practice. I am also beyond grateful for every single person working at Leo’s because, without them, I would not be where I am today in my life, education, and veterinary career. Dr. Magnusson, Dr. Gilliam, Jen, Angel, Rob, Sara, Tamara, Maddie, Brooke, and Kristen are the most supportive, loving, and incredibly caring work family I have ever been a part of. Each and every one of them holds a special place in my heart and I can never thank them enough for the new ideas and point of views they present to me, the endless opportunities I have because of them, and passion they have for their work. Most importantly, I can never begin to describe how their dedication and compassion for our Leo’s team is what inspires me everyday to work hard in my life and education so that I can make each of them proud.
UPDATE – Taking a break from Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine Winter (COVID-19) Break 2020-2021!
Back in 2015, right after my freshman year at IU, I decided to apply to be a volunteer at Leo’s Pet Care. I had just figured out that I wanted to be a veterinarian and now I needed to get all the experience I could before applying. Words cannot describe how thankful I am that Dr. Magnusson took a chance on me 6 years ago. Looking back as a second-year vet student, the amount of experience and hands on work that Dr. Magnusson, Angel, and Jade allowed me to do was incredible. I learned the basics, proper handling and restraint of patients, vaccinations, client communication, blood draws, nail trims, and so much more. I’ve carried these fundamentals with me throughout my 4 semesters at vet school and they have allowed me build on them each step of the way. Without the tireless effort of everyone at Leo’s Pet Care, I would not be half of the vet student I am today.
Dr. Magnusson was generous enough to let me come back to the clinic over my long winter break and teach me more of the doctor side of things. He taught me how to think and act like the doctor I was studying so hard to become. I learned the basics of a routine examination, I learned the proper way to write medical notes, I learned how to monitor patients under anesthesia, I learned about medications and how to calculate dosages, I learned how to read blood work, and I learned how to talk to clients about their pet’s health. All of these lessons and more are so invaluable to me because that is exactly what I’m being taught in my current semester of vet school. Dr. Magnusson truly gave me a leg up going into this semester because I’m understanding concepts in vet school that I would have been struggling with if he hadn’t been so patient and kind to teach me.
Going into this break working at Leo’s was a big adjustment for me because I wasn’t the veterinary assistant anymore. I had taken on more a doctor role in the clinic. I was no longer trimming nails, drawing up vaccines, or restraining animals like I had been for the past 5 years. I had to step back and let Angel and Jade do those tasks so I could focus on more doctory things. But Dr. Magnusson, Angel, and Jade were so patient when it came to me trying to figure out how to take on this new role. I slowly became more confident in everything I had previously learned at vet school, and I started to feel better about the new things Dr. Magnusson was teaching me. This semester I’m able to help my friends and classmates with concepts they don’t understand because of Dr. Magnusson’s tireless effort to make me the best vet student, and eventual veterinarian, I can be.
I saw myself grow into more of a veterinarian this past winter break while working at Leo’s and that is all thanks to Dr. Magnusson, Angel, and Jade. And I can’t wait to come back and show them how much I’ve grown and learned this past semester! Veterinary school is hard enough, but being able to apply my new skills and grow while I’m at Leo’s makes it a little less hard and a little less scary. They always welcome me home with open arms, and for that I’m eternally grateful to everyone at Leo’s.