Interview with Gina Scarzella, DVM from Wilmington, NC. Read on.
Tell us something about yourself:
-My name is Gina Scarzella and I’m a small animal Veterinarian from Wilmington, NC. I grew up in North Carolina, attended undergrad in Virginia at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College then went on to Veterinary school on Grand Cayman Island at St. Matthew’s University.
Why did you decide to become a vet?
-I remember always wanting to be a vet since I was a little girl. I was always bringing home stray animals, we had dogs, cats and gerbils, and loved riding horses. I would shadow our pet’s vet during High School (which is actually the practice I work for now!) and was even more drawn to this field.
Where did you study? Tell us something about your vet school.
– I attended Vet School on Grand Cayman Island. Talk about a great vacation! Needless to say, it was an amazing experience. We did our book studies on the island and worked with the Department of Agriculture at their shelter and on farms gaining hands-on experience. The program was 2.5 years long then we were placed at a teaching hospital in the US. I attended NC State for my clinical year, which included clinical rotations with their students and Specialists. I never once felt like I had an inferior education and felt more rounded because of my experience. All the doctors I’ve ever worked with have always said it doesn’t matter where you go to Vet school as long as you apply yourself and be compassionate.
Tell us a bit more about your healthy lifestyle project about veterinary professionals?
– After being a Vet for a few years, I knew I needed to focus more on my own health. When I first graduated, I pursued a sports medicine focused equine internship, then worked as an equine exclusive Vet. I quickly noticed my quality of life was not ideal due to working long hours and being on call most days. I was missing out on life and did not want to regret my choices later on, I honestly couldn’t see myself in the career for long at that point. After switching to small animal medicine, my quality of life was completely different in a good way! I started to practice more yoga and eventually found an exercise program that has changed my life! My mission is to help Veterinarians that are struggling, you know we are 3.5 times more likely to consider or pursue suicide than other professionals. This is absolutely unacceptable. Those of us in Veterinary medicine need to focus more on ourselves. As caregivers, we struggle with this day in and out, and then it becomes too late. Incorporating personal development and finding a wellness routine that works is the first line of defense for us and our health, mentally and physically.
Share one of your most interesting stories from the clinic as a vet
– This is a hard one to answer as there are so many! As a part of our practice, we are fortunate to be able to have animals relinquished to us that need care but their owner may not be able to afford it. We have quite a few amazing outcomes. One, in particular, was a pregnant dog that was having difficulty giving birth, known as dystocia, and in need of emergency surgery. The owner, unfortunately, could not pursue surgery. She was relinquished to us and emergency surgery was pursued. She recovered well but unfortunately, her puppy did not survive. Once she was able, she was adopted by my mom and is quite possibly the sweetest dog you’ll ever meet. We call her “the grateful dog” because she truly acts like it!
What is your opinion on self-care and burn-out in the veterinary field? How often do you encounter vet professionals with such problems?
– With my health and fitness venture, I have encountered so many Veterinarians that feel stuck, with their careers and their body image. So many are of them have families on top of demanding careers and they feel tapped out. With so many of us being Type-A perfectionists, it’s hard to ask for help when you need it. Changing this stigma is one of many things I strive to help others work on. If you can’t be your best self, then you won’t be able to give to those around you!
Do you have any advice for the veterinary professionals regarding nutrition, self-care and exercise?
– Start with ensuring you are getting enough water. I know, you work like 10+ hours during a shift, but you need to fuel your body to have it run like a well-oiled machine! Also, meal planning and prep will not only save you time and money during the week, but you’ll be less likely to grab unhealthy fast food options. Focus on non-processed food, getting in those fruits, veggies, lean meats and carbs. Lastly, get moving! 30 minutes of exercise will make a HUGE difference! I started doing at-home workouts so that I didn’t waste money on a gym membership I wasn’t using and could get my workout in on my own time! It’ll help your mental health and also give you a ton more energy!
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