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Alumni Voice: What Zoological Medicine at the CVM Meant to Me

Shane Boylan examines a turtle at the South Carolina Aquarium.
Shane Boylan examines a turtle at the South Carolina Aquarium. Photo courtesy of South Carolina Aquarium.

As chief veterinarian at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, S.C., Shane Boylan (DVM, ’05) treats some of the world’s most amazing marine animals, including sea turtles impacted by oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico and loggerheads in need of rehabilitation at the aquarium’s Sea Turtle Care Center.

As a student at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine, the turtles Boylan worked with were a tad smaller, but he hasn’t forgotten them — or the influence the college’s groundbreaking zoological medicine focus had on his life and career. 

In honor of the CVM’s zoological medicine focus turning 30 this year, we asked Boylan to share what has stayed with him the most from his time at the CVM.

The Turtle Rescue Team is the reason I attended NC State.

The turtle team had Mr. T, an Eastern box turtle, out during an Open House. That box turtle had its carapace, its hard upper shell, held together with at least six to 10 bone screws connected with cerclage wire.

The whole reason for my interest in veterinary medicine came from my interactions with injured wildlife as a child. Here was one of my favorite species doing well thanks to the turtle team at the CVM.

I found Dr. Greg Lewbart on day one, introduced myself and then spent all my free time in the turtle team lab being taught by older students like Jenny Kishimori (DVM, ’03), Becky DeBolt (DVM, ’04), Marcy Souza (DVM, ’04) and Ali Travis (DVM, ’04). Students teaching other students is an excellent way to learn, and I was lucky to start doing simple surgical procedures in my first few months of vet school.

I do not recall exactly how I discovered zoological medicine rounds, part of the fourth-year training. I just know Dr. Michael Stoskopf, Dr. Lewbart and Dr. Craig Harms encouraged attendance. Those Thursday afternoons were accessible most of the time in my first few years.

Zoological medicine is the reason I went to veterinary school and since I was paying for it, I wanted to learn everything I could.

I attended those lectures voluntarily, and I could relax as I wasn’t required to be there. Even after a busy and stressful day, I was excited to sit back and listen to the topics and discussions like a fly on the wall.

I learned what books to read from the library and where I needed to improve my knowledge base. Dr. Barbara Wolfe and Dr. Mike Loomis gave me so much access at the North Carolina Zoo that I felt I might be able to make zoological medicine work.

When I got an offer to be a solo full-time zoo vet right out of the CVM, Dr. Stoskopf said I could do it.

Trial by fire was his teacher and it could be mine as well.

So what do I remember most about my time at the CVM? It’s the people.

Read more about 30 years of zoological medicine at the CVM.