Satyajit “Satya” Kulkarni spent the summer of 2021 training with us, here’s a summary of his experience so far:
A short summary on me:
I am an international student at IUPUI double majoring in Biology and Chemistry with a minor in Mathematics. I grew up in Dubai, UAE, where I spent 18 years of my life, but I am originally from Pune, India. I have been determined to become a veterinarian since I was 10 years old, something which surprised my parents because they expected me to change my mind as I did with many other things in my life. My hobbies include reading, cooking, and playing basketball competitively. I will be completing my degree at IUPUI this December and I am currently applying to veterinary schools in the US and UK. I have an extensive background in veterinary research, and I have a first-authored publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal ().
I met Dr. Magnusson on a cold winter afternoon at the Leo’s Pet Care clinic in Carmel. I had initially stumbled across his name on a list curated by the pre-professional department at IUPUI when I was looking for a shadowing experience at a veterinary clinic. It had been some time since my last experience shadowing at a private veterinary practice and I wanted to brush up my skills and knowledge of small animal care. Dr. Magnusson was surprised that his name was on a list somewhere when I contacted him asking if I could shadow there. This was also the first time I had been asked to send my resume to someone for a shadowing experience, which was surprising but made sense to me when Dr. Magnusson explained that he has many students at his clinic. When I walked into the clinic for my shadowing interview, I was greeted by Jade’s friendly face and directed to one of the client rooms. I sat there in my black winter coat: nervous, sweating, and a bit stuffy under all those layers. I still question why I did not take off my coat and make myself more comfortable for the interview.
Luckily, the interview went smoothly. Dr. Magnusson, as I expected, told me that my shadowing experience in private practice was lacking and potentially something I could improve at LPC. He was not surprised when I told him I had no previous experience working directly with dogs and cats in terms of restraint, blood draws, and other procedures. In other words, I had never handled them directly, only shadowed the veterinarian and vet techs performing such procedures. I was surprised when he told me that LPC is not like other veterinary clinics. Here, I would get the chance to perform such procedures under the careful supervision of the experienced veterinary staff. I left the clinic (still wearing my black winter coat) feeling nervous but also excited to learn new skills in veterinary care at Leo’s Pet Care.
On my first day, I learned how to restrain a dog. As Dr. Magnusson explained, if I sucked at it, I wouldn’t be continuing as a shadower at a clinic, so I had to learn this skill quickly. Initially, I was still a bit scared and hesitant around the more difficult dogs, but over time, my confidence grew, and I could restrain a dog without flinching when the dog barked or moved suddenly. I learned how, and where, to give different vaccines and the history of why particular vaccines are given in specific locations. I also learned how to trim dog nails, a skill that I still need more practice in. On my second day, I learned how to restrain a cat. This was slightly more difficult than restraining a dog, because a cat is like a river: you have to go with the flow to control it. In Dr. Magnusson’s words, “don’t staple the cat to the table.” I heard a grade 4 heart murmur in a cat (if you have not heard one before, it sounds like a washing machine), which was quite fascinating. I also learned how to draw blood from the canine jugular vein, perform a hematocrit test, and run a full blood panel.
On my third and fourth days, I learned how to diagnose and clean dog ears which were infected, perform heartworm tests, and about Cushing’s disease. Dr. Magnusson took me and the other students on a thought experiment of the different scenarios and the mechanism of Cushing’s disease and Addison’s disease. This careful and visual explanation of Cushing’s disease and the tests done to confirm it helped me understand the effects and underlying mechanisms. As a result, I did my own research and learned the difference between Cushing’s disease in humans and dogs, and why there is a difference in testing protocols. On my fifth day, I learned how to clamp a hemostat with the right technique, which was surprisingly hard. I observed a canine neuter surgery, a cat dental (where I learned how to trim feline nails), and a mass removal (where I learned about surgical margins). I also learned about intestinal torsion (i.e., bloat), which is why dogs and cats are flipped legs-down during procedures involving anesthesia. On my sixth and seventh days, I learned how to draw blood from the cephalic vein (front limb), monitored anesthesia during a surgery, restrained a hundred-pound dog (at this point I was getting much better with restraint), and performed a dental cleaning on a cat under supervision.
At this point, you’ve probably gotten the gist of my experience at Leo’s Pet Care. In my short time at LPC, I have learned more than I ever expected when I first emailed Dr. Magnusson asking if I could shadow him. Every day I spend here at the clinic, I learn something new and refine skills I have already learned. Of course, there is the added benefit of spending time with cats and dogs and taking pictures of their irresistibly cute faces.
Another unique feature of shadowing at Leo’s Pet Care is observing Dr. Magnusson’s approach to veterinary medicine. He has a rational, methodical, and meticulous manner of approaching clients and pets. His motto is “Listen to the pet, then the client, and then at the very end, if you still don’t know what’s wrong, listen to the tests.” Dr. Magnusson is charismatic, virtuous, witty, and honest. He is skilled at mentoring students, evidenced by his situational judgement and understanding of how and when to deliver information. I aspire to emulate his attributes, skills, and approach to veterinary medicine in my future career as a veterinarian.
There are still many skills I want to improve in this area of the veterinary profession: restraint, blood draws, ear and teeth cleanings, nail trims, anesthesia, and vaccine administration. There are also new skills I want to learn and master: talking to clients on the phone, working the administrative system, shipping samples, placing catheters, and suturing. But it is nonetheless exciting that I have learned so many new things in such a short time. Dr. Magnusson and the LPC family (Angel, Jade, Abby, Hope, and Cassidy) are so supportive that it is impossible not to succeed in this clinic. They inspire me to improve my skills and to help others as they have helped me.
Thus, the tl;dr of this essay is: if there is one clinic you could shadow at if you are interested in veterinary medicine, it should be Leo’s Pet Care.
Dr. Magnusson Responds:
Satya is a very interesting character. Not just because he’s our first international student, and so came to us with a world of experience beyond our borders, but because he’s also our first student trainee who has a strong interest in research.
Personally, I could never get excited about research. I don’t have the patience, or the discipline, I don’t have the excitement for publishing and making new discoveries, and to be honest, I’m not a particularly good team player. That’s why I started my own practice, so I didn’t have to follow anyone else’s protocols and instructions.
It’s important to note that we don’t accept every pre-veterinary student who applies here to train with us. Unless someone has shown a several years pattern of behavior that demonstrates competence and dedication to an activity outside of studying, we usually pass them by. The reason we asked Satya for his resume had nothing to do with proving he already had experience with animals – that, we could train him – but rather to help us decide if he was a hard working human worthy of our training. And that, he certainly proved he is.
The students who have come through here who seem to fare the best are ones who have outside activities that completely captivate their attention. Usually this comes in the form of college athletics, and we’ve had several very strong athletes get into veterinary school after training here. An athlete has demonstrated they can commit themselves to projects they frankly aren’t required to do; they have chosen to put in much more than just the bare minimum amount of effort to get by.
Satya puts in a great deal of effort into his interests outside academics, and that’s demonstrated very clearly by his work ethic in research that is not required by his degree. Veterinary medicine is in desperate need for researchers who aren’t just all about playing with puppies and kittens all day, who have a dedicated drive to truly solve the core problems we all face in medicine every day and not just put a band-aid on everything.
Satya really, truly wants to CURE disease. To find real solutions to real world problems, that can be used by thousands of veterinarians throughout the world. The potential impact this young man could have on our profession is huge, and must be acknowledged.
I can help a handful of animals in my career, one at a time. Satya’s dreams have the potential to help treat millions.
To be frank, I was a little hesitant about inviting in a student with no animal handling training. My hesitation was unfounded, as Satya proved himself a competent animal handler quite quickly. His skill with surgical instruments and syringes and lab machines and all the other mechanical tools of this profession is excellent, and his compassion for animals and their wellbeing is obvious.
Veterinary school will do wonderful things for this young man. It’ll also challenge him in ways he’s not used to, and give him some insight into the world of global animal health that he wants so badly to positively impact.
I’m quite excited to see how my own career might be changed by what Satya uncovers through his professional efforts. Veterinary medicine definitely needs more young men like him in our ranks, and any veterinary school should be proud to have him.