Dr. Jacqueline Fountain
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Many of my colleagues knew the answer the first time they heard the question. “Veterinarian”. Others, like me, just blurted out the first profession that came to mind. “Police woman.” “Lawyer.” “Teacher.” Then, one day during my junior year of high school, I realized I knew the answer. At that moment, I was on the floor of the treatment room of the veterinary clinic I worked in for 2 years before college. One of the patients that we saw regularly for a chronic disease was going to cross the rainbow bridge. Before the beautiful golden retriever was taken to the room for her parents to spend her last moments, I had to say my goodbye. She was on my lap and I just cried. It was not fair. Why did she get sick? Why couldn’t the doctors help her? Later that day I realized how much I cared for a pet and family that was not my own. This is how my journey into veterinary medicine began.
As my parents and I were driving from Atlanta, Georgia where I grew up, to New Orleans, Louisiana to start college at Tulane University, I was determined to do everything I could to get into the highly competitive world of veterinary school. I quickly realized that leaving my undergraduate education with at least a 3.7 GPA was not going to be as easy as I had thought. During school, I wondered many times if I was on the right path. My new kitten, Layla, kept me inspired. I graduated from Tulane with a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Step 1 was complete.
Step 2: getting into veterinary school. The process is highly competitive, and the average student applies at least twice before getting a spot in a class. During my second round of applications, I applied to St. George’s University in Grenada. I was in my car when I got a call from a strange number. I pulled over and answered. It was the admissions counselor congratulating me on my admittance to St. George’s! I will never forget that moment. I was shaking and crying and laughing all at the same time.
Step 3: Veterinary school. I started at St. Georges, on an amazing, tropical island, with the world’s most beautiful beaches, wonderful friends, and amazing professors. I brought Layla with me and shaved her fluffy coat for the island heat. In my second year, I was offered the opportunity to transfer to a stateside school. I took the chance. I moved from the Caribbean to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, with Layla in tow. I had never been to Oklahoma. I knew very little about the state apart from the OSU. I took it all in- bought cowgirl boots, learned to two- step, started listening to country music, and of course, worked really, really hard in school. During my fourth year, I began to realize that I really enjoyed surgery, maybe more than any of my classes. This still rings true. The 3 years in Oklahoma flew by quickly. Suddenly my friends and I were trying on robes and getting ready for graduation. Since my mother is an MD, she hooded me at graduation- a moment I will never forget.
I was lucky enough to match with my first choice for the veterinary internship program. I loaded up my car, my U-haul, and you guessed it, Layla. We were off to California. I completed a rotating internship in emergency, surgery, and medicine at California Veterinary Specialists in Murrietta and Carlsbad, CA. It was the most challenging, exhausting, exciting, and educational year yet!
Working at Best Friends Animal Hospital has continued to give me many opportunities to continually strive to be the best doctor I can be. My interests include soft tissue surgery, radiology, and preventative medicine. I am so lucky to be able to be a veterinarian, because it really is what I want to be when I grow up.