Rebecca Purdy ‘19, DVM, cannot remember a time when she did not want to be a veterinarian. Even as a child, Purdy could not think of a better way to pair her aptitude for science with her love of animals. She began to shadow veterinarians as they made their rounds, examining, diagnosing and treating animals, when she was a student at West Genesee High School. Upon arriving at Le Moyne in the fall of 2016, Purdy chose to major in biology, with an eye toward attending veterinary school following her graduation. She made the most of her time on the Heights, conducting research in the lab and in the field, studying the breathing patterns of mice with Associate Professor of Biology Lara DeRuisseau, Ph.D., and the migratory habits of birds with Associate Professor of Biology Jason Luscier, Ph.D. Those experiences helped her to grow as a scientist and as a professional, teaching her values, patience and critical-thinking skills

Following her graduation, Purdy earned a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2023. Today the alumna is completing an internship at the New Jersey-based Garden State Veterinary Specialists, which provides emergency, critical care services, primarily for companion animals like dogs and cats, The experience has been a formative one for her. She has gained experience in the clinical setting, including in surgery, and forged relationships with her patients and their families. It is “incredibly satisfying work,” Purdy said. She recalled the gratitude of one owner in particular whose dog’s mobility was vastly improved simply by fitting the animal with a sling.

Those interactions make the long hours worthwhile, and it is likely that there will be many more moments like those to come. Practitioners like Purdy are in short supply around the country. Mars Veterinary Health, which operates a network of 2,500 veterinary clinics, hospitals and diagnostic labs across 21 countries, recently found that the United States will have a shortage of about 15,000 veterinarians by 2030. As a pet owner herself, Purdy appreciates how important it for people to know that their animals are receiving the highest standard of care so that they can enjoy the highest quality of life.

“The most rewarding part of my work is seeing the patients leave the hospital,” she says. “I always want them to be able to go home.”

This is part of a series of stories about the study of biology at Le Moyne.