The days can be both physically and emotionally exhausting, but caring for animals is what Marjorie Owen, a small animal surgery resident at Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, was meant to do.
“This is what I have worked my entire life for, and it is such a rewarding experience to just be here now and be able to be doing what I love,” Owen said. “Even on the hardest days, I wouldn’t trade it in for the world.”
Owen, now in the second year of her three-year residency, joined the small animal surgery team after completing a surgery internship at WestVet, an emergency and specialty clinic in Boise, Idaho, that partners with WSU to provide an internship and joint residency program.
Early in her veterinary studies, Owen gravitated toward being a surgeon, in part because it would allow her to help animals suffering from a wide range of conditions, including bone fractures, soft tissue injuries, cancer, and abnormalities that affect quality of life.
“With surgery, you are able to alleviate an animal’s pain so quickly,” she said. “After surgery, they feel better; they look better; they are more excited about life; and they get to go home to their owners.”
It’s the success stories that she will always remember, like when she recently performed a procedure to repair the cleft palate of a dog that was unable to eat and drink normally.
“Her owner came in the other day and said her dog’s life had completely changed,” Dr. Owen said. “Seeing the joy in mom’s face was so rewarding. The dog will never be able to say, ‘thanks so much for what you did,’ but knowing the owners and the people in their family perceive their dog to be so much happier is part of the best part.”
As a resident still honing her craft, Owen works closely with other surgeons at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, including her residency adviser, Dr. Boel Fransson, a board-certified small animal surgeon who specializes in minimally invasive surgery.
“I have a very strong interest in soft tissue surgery, especially surgical oncology, and Dr. Fransson has really been amazing at teaching me the nuances of each different soft tissue surgery and what different techniques you can use,” Owen said.
After completing her residency, Owen hopes to join a private practice on the West Coast or in a state like Idaho or Colorado, where she completed her undergraduate degree and final year of veterinary school.
Long term, she has ambitions of traveling abroad and providing veterinary care. She has previously participated in programs in areas of Africa, and Central and South America.
“I always had a dream when I was in veterinary school and undergrad to serve underprivileged communities,” she said. “If things end up how I want them to, I’ll be part of a program that helps these people and their animals.”