Dr. Maya Kliewer (DVM) is this year's recipient of the WCVM Faculty Gold Medal—the veterinary college's top honour for graduating veterinary students. Photo: Dave Stobbe.
Dr. Maya Kliewer (DVM) is this year's recipient of the WCVM Faculty Gold Medal—the veterinary college's top honour for graduating veterinary students. (Photo: Dave Stobbe)

USask veterinary medallist envisions career in medical imaging

Dr. Maya Kliewer (DVM) of Saskatoon is this year’s recipient of the Faculty Gold Medal, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s (WCVM) highest honour for a graduating veterinary student.

By Tyler Schroeder

Kliewer accepted the award from WCVM Dean Dr. Gillian Muir (DVM, PhD) on June 5 during the University of Saskatchewan (USask) Spring Convocation ceremony, where she received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Kliewer was one of 85 students to graduate from the WCVM’s veterinary program this year—the largest number of veterinary graduates in the college’s 59-year history.

The faculty-nominated award is annually presented to a graduating student who has excelled in demonstrating the highest general proficiency in the science and art of veterinary medicine during the four years of the DVM curriculum.

Muir taught Kliewer during her time as a veterinary student and commended her student leadership abilities in addition to her academic accomplishments and clinical performance.

“Maya is a strong leader and has been a wonderful support and mentor for her classmates, as well as students in other years of the DVM program,” said Muir. “She’s well deserving of our college’s top award.”

Kliewer, who was surprised to receive news of her award, felt honoured by the nomination support from WCVM faculty members.

“It’s one thing to be given an award for your grades but to have faculty nominate you is a special kind of achievement that I’m really grateful for,” she said.

In July, Kliewer will begin a small animal rotating internship at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) on the University of Guelph campus. She plans to pursue a residency in veterinary radiology after completing her one-year clinical internship.

“OVC has a really good reputation for internships and also has a residency program, so I knew it would be the best of both worlds,” she said.

Dr. Maya Kliewer (DVM) is this year's recipient of the WCVM Faculty Gold Medal—the veterinary college's top honour for graduating veterinary students. Photo: Dave Stobbe.
Dr. Maya Kliewer (DVM) stands on stage after receiving the WCVM Faculty Gold Medal from Dr. Gillian Muir, WCVM dean. (Photo: Dave Stobbe)

Born in Prince Albert, Sask., Kliewer’s family moved to Saskatoon when she was six years old. Her family’s interests in outdoor activities spawned her appreciation for nature and wildlife, plus they led to new experiences such as learning to ride horses and volunteering at the Saskatoon SPCA.

Kliewer had a clear image of becoming a veterinarian, even from a young age.

“I really wanted to be with animals whenever it was possible,” she said. “It’s written in my Grade 8 yearbook that I wanted to be a veterinarian, and that drive has always been there for most of my life.”

After high school, Kliewer studied animal bioscience at the USask College of Agriculture and Bioresources for two years before beginning veterinary studies in 2020.

It didn’t take long for Kliewer to decide that she wanted to specialize in the veterinary profession, but it took some time to gauge what specific discipline attracted her the most. When her anatomy instructors used X-rays to supplement learning material, those experiences piqued her interest in radiology (or medical imaging). And after spending a day shadowing a resident in the WCVM Veterinary Medical Centre’s medical imaging service, Kliewer could envision herself working in radiology and analyzing a wide variety of cases.

“I really enjoy problem solving and that’s what radiology is. You’re presented with a case and you need to figure out what’s going on and present that case back to the clinician,” said Kliewer. “It’s also very involved in all aspects of veterinary medicine, so I really like having my fingers in every type of case.”

Kliewer is grateful for the guidance and support of WCVM faculty and staff who have helped to advance her skills and knowledge of medical imaging. She credited current residents and clinical interns for offering career advice and information on many possible career paths, including advancing radiology through research and working in veterinary clinics.

Dr. Sally Sukut (DVM), an assistant professor of medical imaging and a 2001 graduate of the WCVM, has been an important mentor since Kliewer met the board-certified specialist during her third year at the college.

“She’s [Dr. Sukut] been quite instrumental in my journey of advancing to where I want to be in radiology. She’s an amazing educator and person, and I’ve always enjoyed her lectures and teaching methods,” said Kliewer. “I definitely strive to be like her in the future.”

She added that Sukut’s influence in the classroom has given her inspiration to possibly pursue academia and mentor future veterinary students in radiology.

“I know radiology isn’t the most stimulating area of veterinary medicine, and it can be very challenging for students,” said Kliewer. “I’d love to be able to help spark an interest and demonstrate the value of radiology to vet students in the same way that it happened for me.”

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