Courtney Cameron, originally from North Saanich, B.C., is the 2023 recipient of the Faculty Gold Medal—the WCVM's highest honour for veterinary graduates. (Photo: Submitted)
Courtney Cameron, originally from North Saanich, B.C., is the 2023 recipient of the Faculty Gold Medal—the WCVM's highest honour for veterinary graduates. (Photo: Submitted)

USask veterinary graduate ready to ‘tackle anything that comes my way’

When Dr. Courtney Cameron (DVM) walks across the stage at University of Saskatchewan (USask) Spring Convocation on June 7, the new veterinarian will pick up more than her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree.

By Lynne Gunville

Cameron is also receiving the 2023 Faculty Gold Medal—the Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s (WCVM) most prestigious honour for its graduating veterinary students.

Each year, members of the college’s faculty select the WCVM graduate who has been most successful at demonstrating general proficiency in the science and art of veterinary medicine throughout the four-year program.

“I was pleasantly surprised to hear that I was receiving this award,” said Cameron, who returned to her family’s home in North Saanich, B.C., after wrapping up her final clinical year at the WCVM in late April.

“Achieving during the classroom years of the program is one thing, but it really is an honour to be recognized by the clinicians that you look up to so highly.”

Cameron was chosen as the college’s Faculty Gold Medal recipient from among her class of 78 students who represent the four western provinces and Canada’s North. Like other veterinary graduates across Canada, members of the WCVM’s Class of 2023 are entering the workforce at a time when more veterinarians are urgently needed in urban and rural communities across the country.

In July, Cameron will begin working as a small animal associate veterinarian at VCA Canada Ladysmith Animal Hospital, located about 90 kilometres north of Victoria. She worked at the small animal practice during the past two summers “and never had a bad day.”

Cameron looks forward to reconnecting with the supportive team at the clinic, which will include three veterinarians on staff once she begins her job. She’s particularly grateful for the mentorship of Dr. Jenelle Lepage (DVM’20), another WCVM graduate, who has always given her opportunities to learn and grow in a safe environment.

While growing up on Vancouver Island, Cameron spent most of her childhood sailing the Gulf Islands with her family before completing a Bachelor of Science (with distinction, neurobiology) degree at the University of Victoria.

Cameron has always had a special interest in horses and spent more than 15 years riding and training horses—many of them rehabilitation cases that she found especially rewarding.

“I loved watching their progression over time,” said Cameron. “And knowing that you have played a part in developing their mind and body is something that never gets old.”

Veterinary medicine seemed like the ideal way for Cameron to combine her passion for horses as well as a personal interest in health care. With a father who was a registered nurse and a sister in medical school, Cameron said medicine has always been a common topic of conversation at home.

Cameron considers herself lucky to be graduating from the WCVM’s well-rounded veterinary program. She particularly enjoyed the final year of clinic rotations—the point at which everything she had learned began to pay off. As she put her knowledge into practice, she was able to see how theory and reality came together in real cases.

She’s also thankful for the close-knit college with its small class sizes that foster the development of supportive relationships among the students.

“I truly feel like my class lucked out—we had such a diverse group of students from an array of backgrounds, yet we all got along so easily,” said Cameron. “They really are some of the kindest and most respectful individuals that I have ever met.”

Cameron is confident that her four years at the WCVM have provided the foundation and the knowledge she will need in private practice.

“I am very proud to be a WCVM graduate,” said Cameron. “Although it’s nerve-racking to be starting this next chapter of my life, I know that I have the education and support behind me to tackle anything that comes my way.”

Although she will work primarily with small animals, Cameron has never lost her love for horses and doesn’t rule out the option of expanding into equine medicine someday.

She’s appreciated having some time off after the last four hectic years, and she has especially enjoyed the chance to work at the barn and ride horses once again—activities that she greatly missed while attending school.

Cameron is excited to make the trip back to Saskatoon to attend the university’s convocation ceremony. But what will make the trip even more memorable is the chance to spend time with all her classmates before everyone begins new career opportunities in Western Canada and even further afield.

“I’m looking forward to having one last night of celebration with my classmates,” said Cameron. “Despite how hard everyone works; they sure know how to make memories!”

Lynne Gunville of Candle Lake, Sask., is a freelance writer and editor whose career includes 25 years of teaching English and communications to adults.     

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