Curbside and Front Lines
(Written by Katelyn Durbin)
Katey Durbin had patiently waited for her 2020 graduation day. Having graduated from the University of Findlay in 2016 with two bachelor of science degrees in preparation for her next big adventure in veterinary school, she knew what to expect. Long black gowns, excited classmates, proud faculty and family. It was the most anticipated event of her last four years, maybe even her whole life. Unfortunately, the festivities were not going to be what she had in mind.
The news of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown hit in April of 2020 amid the final months of her clinical education. Students were sent away from the hospital to sit at home and wait. The whole world was holding its collective breath it seemed. Suddenly that long-awaited graduation day was just a dream after all. While her school administrators tried to come up with a solution to the madness, Katey moved back home to be with family. It was clear she would not return to campus anytime soon.
Graduation did, of course, happen… virtually. This was just the beginning of the strange new life Katey would lead as Dr. Durbin.
In her first job as a veterinarian, she wore her facemask and whitecoat proudly… at her new clients’ driver-side doors. Pets were whisked inside the veterinary clinic without their owners. Curbside veterinary care, who would have thought! “This was not something we trained for in vet school,” Dr. Durbin remarked remembering her first day, now two years ago, as a new veterinarian.
“Most people were grateful and patient as I and the veterinary nursing team did our very best to accommodate everyone,” Durbin said. However, with so many different opinions on how the pandemic should be handled, tensions rose. Thankfully, Dr. Durbin had also completed her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree, something she credits UF with helping her achieve.
“The MPH came in handy as I was able to dispel fears and even provide my management team with recommendations that could serve our community,” she explained. “We were quite literally on the front lines.” She credited UF with preparing her to take on the coursework of a dual DVM/MPH degree. In fact, if it were not for her professors at UF, she might not have even known this type of degree program was possible.
Now, after two years serving as a general small animal practitioner in rural Ohio, Dr. Durbin is heading to Louisiana. This move will allow her to pursue a career in the public service sector rather than private practice. “There are so many diverse opportunities for veterinarians,” she said. “Findlay does a good job of exposing its pre-vet students to those possibilities.”
While her 2020 graduation was less than what she always imagined, Dr. Durbin says she is thankful for what the pandemic taught her. Additionally, she expresses gratitude for her time at UF and how it helped shape her into a professional even in the most unexpected circumstances.