From the moment she was placed on the back of a horse as a 6-month-old, Teri Olson has been drawn to the iconic animals. Now a licensed veterinary technician in equine surgery, she has helped to care for horses and other large animals while ensuring students receive the best possible training at WSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital for nearly three decades.
Teri specializes in equine dentistry and equine restraint. She is often involved with WSU’s student group of AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners) in teaching and assisting with equine dental labs, and she frequently lectures and demonstrates at the College of Veterinary Medicine’s annual Horse Course program that is open to the community. She is also a member of the AAEVT (American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians).
What is your typical day like at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital?
One of the most amazing things about my job is that no day is ever the same. I can be sure the days will consist of helping our students and clinicians with treatments, surgeries, and dentistry, but I never know when an emergency will change everything.
What made you want to work in veterinary medicine?
Growing up, my mom was a veterinary technician, so we always had animals. I started planning to go to WSU for vet school in middle school. When I graduated high school, I couldn’t afford vet school, so I went to Pierce Community College, where I could continue to work full time and attend school to get my associate degree in animal science. I did my internship at WSU and was hooked. As soon as a position came open, I moved to the Palouse. As I continued to work in the veterinary field, I realized I truly loved my job and decided not to go to vet school.
Why do you enjoy working with horses and large animals?
My mom had me on the back of a horse when I was 6 months old. I’ve always had horses. The horse community is very small and I value being a part of it. I’ve always trained my own horses, but I started training professionally (as my second job) in 1995. It’s an amazing experience when you can connect with a horse and help others with their goals.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
Through the past 27 years I have seen so much change in academia and have interacted with many students. It is truly a pleasure to run into past students who recognize me immediately and recall stories of their vet school days, often relaying a story of how I was able to teach them about dentistry or helped them build their confidence around horses. There is nothing better then, after a two-week rotation, having a student come to me smiling and saying, “thank you for helping me enjoy my experience with horses.” I also enjoy having the experience and knowledge base to anticipate the needs of senior faculty. We truly have a good team.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in veterinary medicine?
Be sure to get plenty of experience in the field and don’t limit yourself. There are many different options available, particularly if you want to specialize. Explore all of your options.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I am part of the Whitman County Sheriff’s Posse. We conduct search and rescue on horseback, so we get to train a lot with our colleagues and horses. I also enjoy camping and pretty much anything outdoors. Photography of the cowboy lifestyle, sharing my horsemanship with others, and music are other great passions of mine. I am also a firefighter/EMT in my community and run my own farm where I train and give riding lessons.