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Animal Care

From Ireland’s Countryside, Sam Schopler Reports

Students at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine have access to all kinds of internships, externships and research experiences during their four years of school. This summer, several students will be sharing some of what they're doing and learning in real time.

Sam Schopler, Class of 2024, is using his Small Animal Externship to shadow a veterinarian in the countryside of Cork, Ireland
Sam Schopler, Class of 2024, is using his Small Animal Externship to shadow a veterinarian in the countryside of Cork, Ireland

After being on the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinary Business Management Association board for three years, I’m no stranger to the inevitable, “Where do you want to be in 10 years?” question that is a frequent topic at networking events, round tables and more.

In answering this, I’ve always found it important to share both personal and professional aspirations. Too often, people in our profession equate their careers with their self identity, which heightens the risk of future burnout and limits pursuing passions and goals outside of work. As I become a veterinarian, it is important to me to find opportunities that combine both personal interest with professional growth, and for this reason I wanted to take advantage of an externship to practice medicine in Ireland. 

Now halfway through my monthlong externship, I have found myself becoming more and more excited about how my career is filling my vision of the future. The culture of work, the quality of the people and medicine, and the surrounding lifestyle here make me feel as though I could be happy practicing medicine in a situation like this for a long time to come.

Ireland is a beautiful country, and there is so much to do here that fascinates me. The place where I am staying is an old mill house, owned by a couple who manages the Gougane Barra Hotel down the road. The Gougane Barra Hotel is an enchanting place next to a lake. The lake is home to a church nestled on an island (pictured), and feeding that lake is a stream whose headwaters are in the national park stretching into the mountains.

Every day after work at the clinic in Dunmanway, I walk through the forest paths, watch a Gaelic football match or visit with my friends at the hotel. Overall, this experience has given me a new appreciation for balancing work and life and has shown me that it is possible to have both a fulfilling career and a fulfilling personal life. Although my love for the veterinary field has grown even stronger, I am reminded that there is so much more out there to explore and appreciate.