Curran pursues vet dream

Published 1:06 am Saturday, June 30, 2007

NATCHEZ — Spending the summer in a hot barn with large animals may not be most people’s cup of tea, but for one former Natchez resident, it’s all part of a larger dream.

Jennifer Curran, 32, just finished her first year of veterinary school at Glasgow University in Scotland, and part of the requirements for her pre-clinical work is to spend 12 weeks doing different kinds of animal husbandry — ranging from cleaning stalls to birthing.

Curran finished her work with horses at the Mount Olive farm outside Natchez Friday.

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“The idea is for us to see the animals and experience the environment from a farmer’s perspective,” Curran said. “As a veterinarian, we only come in and see what’s wrong with them.”

American schools don’t require that kind of animal work, she said.

“I like it because we’re going to have more hands-on experience than most graduates,” she said.

When she graduates, Curran will hold a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgery, but she said it’s the European equivalent of the doctor of veterinary medicine.

She first heard of the

Glasgow University program from a co-worker at Natchez Veterinarian Robert Savant’s office. Veterinary school requires applicants to work at a clinic before they even apply to weed out those who would quickly drop out.

“I filled out my application online, and it had an option of checking all the schools I wanted to apply to, and (Glasgow) was one of my choices,” she said. “It was a great way to get an education and see the world at the same time.”

Curran went into theatre when she finished high school, but it wasn’t long before she changed her mind and decided to pursue veterinary medicine.

“I decided I wanted to be a vet when I was 5-years-old and we took my sick cat to the vet,” she said. “I was the typical little girl with a million questions.

“The vet was amazing and answered all of my questions with great patience, and when we left I told my mom I wanted to be a vet.”

The first clinic Curran worked at was a corporately-run one in Nebraska.

“My first week they told me after three months I would want to do something else,” she said. “After three months I went to them and said, ‘I want to do more.’”

Mount Olive was the second stop of several for Curran. In March, she worked on a sheep farm.

“I basically spent the whole time birthing lambs,” she said.

Her next stop will be in Carroll, Iowa, where she will work on a pig farm with 8,000 sows, she said.

The work there will be divided into three parts — farrowing, or birthing, raising and finishing the pigs for market, she said.

She will also do work with dairy cattle in the United Kingdom, she said.

“This is the most rewarding work I’ve ever done,” she said.