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Q and A with Clay Tuttle

Tell us about your hands-on experience:

I completed an internship at the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic for six weeks where I worked as a veterinary assistant with an array of species. The list of endemic species include boa constrictor, margay, ocelot, jaguarundi, crocodiles, furrowed wood turtles, scarlet macaws, several small parrots, coatimundi, raccoon, hawk, and grey fox.

How did this experience impact you?

After my internship, I was able to compare several facets of wildlife medicine to other more structured forms of animal medicine. I am teetering between pursuing wildlife or zoological medicine and this internship has given me insight into one of those. Also, the people I met and the connections I’ve made will stick with me.

What did you learn about yourself during your experience?

I learned how to test my limits and how to put myself out of my comfort zone. I took responsibility for caring for wildlife through all hours of the day in night. Specifically, I hand raised two coatimundi brothers whose mother had been killed by hunters.

How has this opportunity or experience prepared you for your future career?

As I am deciding which field of animal medicine I would wish to pursue I can think back to my time in Belize. I learned about animal husbandry, ornithological orthopedic surgery techniques, phlebotomy readings, animal restraint, personal communication skills, wildlife field medicine, and professionalism in the workspace. All of these things will help me in both my studies and in practice in the future.

Any advice to incoming students thinking about your major, field of study or research focus?

Find the niche you fit in and own it. Don’t be intimidated by professors or asking questions in class. It’s okay not to know exactly what you want to do when in college. Enjoy your time and diversify your experiences.