Classroom to Clinic: Happiness Upon Happiness

An older student with two grade school kids at home takes her first steps into the veterinary clinic—and meets Chandler, the miniature horse
Nancy Boren
Nancy Boren. Photo: Jake Belcher
February 13, 2017

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Being a parent and a vet student has not been the easiest combination. That said, I can’t imagine doing it any differently. With two young sons watching my every move and gauging my attitude toward school, I am well aware that I am a role model, and that helps keep everything in perspective.

When I began classes at Cummings School, my older son was in fourth grade and my younger son was in first grade. We all had homework, and many times we did it together, although I would never finish mine until long after they had gone to bed.

Of course, clinics are an entirely different world from classes, and as excited as I was for them, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about how they would affect my family. Much of the time, I wouldn’t even be able to predict when I’d get home.

And I was worried for more basic reasons, too. After all, I had taken a long road to vet school, one that wound through the social sciences, legal work, law school and being a stay-at-home mom.

As a result, it had been more than 15 years from the time I’d taken my first vet school prerequisite until this big moment—now that it was finally here, what if I wasn’t good at the actual work of veterinary medicine? As a student, I focused on small animals and lab animals—how on earth could I deal with large animal surgery as one of my first rotations?

Fortunately, my husband has taken on more responsibility at home, and we can count on some wonderful family friends to help us out in a pinch. Fortunately, too, clinics are going well for me. I like getting to know the clients. I like coming up with differential diagnoses. I like working with the animals themselves.

Finally, I’ve ended up with fond memories of that dreaded rotation in large animal surgery, especially since it introduced me to Chandler, the 19-year-old miniature horse I was soon referring to as “the best patient ever.” He loves to be brushed! You can see me with him and my classmate Sylvia Kim, V17, on Cummings School’s Facebook page—check out his charming braided forelock.

But one of the best benefits of my new career is being able to share so much of what I love with the people in my life. While I’m too busy to volunteer in my sons’ classrooms as much as I used to, I still get there, and when I do, I teach the students about animal care.

I talk to my husband and my sons and my sons’ friends about Chandler and other patients, like the pot-bellied pig I’ve enjoyed walking on a lead. My family is, I think, happy that I am happy—which makes me happier still.

Earlier in the series: “Classroom to Clinic: Turkey Surprise,” by Adam Shoelson, V17.

This article first appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of Cummings Veterinary Medicine magazine.