Kenzie Gelernter

Name: Kenzie Gelernter

Medical Title/Credentials: 3rd Year Veterinary Student 

IG: @dearmissdogtor

School/Program: College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia

Favorite Hobby: reading, cardio kickboxing, trail hikes with my dog Reggie, and anything creative! 

Why did you choose this profession? I chose veterinary medicine because I love building meaningful relationships with animals and their owners. Veterinary medicine is not only about treating animals, but is also about educating clients, leading a medical team, and showing empathy in difficult situations. I love this profession even more as it continues to grow into a supportive community!

Biggest Inspiration: My biggest inspiration right now is the veterinary community that is unfolding on social media. There has been so much support for both vet students and practicing veterinarians. Whether it’s clinical advice, mental health advocacy, or friendship development, the community feels like it’s growing into a loving, nurturing space. There are so many inspirational leaders (vet students, recent grads, experienced clinicians) that are changing the profession in more ways than one: addressing racism in veterinary medicine, addressing women inequalities, addressing mental health stigmas, addressing resiliency and stress management, addressing fears and anxiety about medicine, and so much more!

Current Passion Project: On my platform, DearMissDogtor, I am continuing to share the benefits of mindfulness and meditation in veterinary medicine and working to create an open discussions about mental health. The veterinary profession has the highest suicide rate out of all other professions. It’s my goal to help pre-vet students, vet students, and veterinarians become more mindful and use meditation as a means of stress relief, anxiety management, and overall mental health awareness.

What sort of challenges have you faced in your life? How have you overcome them? A lot of the challenges I have faced in life have come from a lack of understanding how to manage stress and how to set realistic expectations for myself. I used to stress about being the perfect student and would always choose school over social interactions. I became so unhappy and felt completely isolated from my friends. It’s taken a lot of self-reflection and mindfulness practice to learn how to hold realistic expectations for myself, so that I can still achieve my goals but also live a beautiful, happy life. I now prioritize spending time with friends and family over school — at the end of the day, these social interactions bring us more joy than earning good grades. I also realized that veterinary school is so challenging and I would not be able to get through it without the support of my vet friends. We share all of our study materials, we celebrate our first surgeries, we pick each other up when we are down. This is what vet school is really about! It’s learning vet med AND forming the special bonds that last forever.

Fun Fact: I was scuba certified on the Great Barrier Reef and the first time I went diving, I swear I saw Nemo!

Do you have any advice for others interested in entering your field? For any pre-vet students, I advise you to shadow a veterinarian that inspires you! Build a relationship with a vet that you admire and ask if they will be your mentor. This will lead to honest and open conversations about what veterinary medicine is actually like (the good, the bad, and the ugly). I think a lot of students enter veterinary medicine not fully understanding the challenges you’ll face both in school and in the clinic, so the more you are aware of ahead of time, the better prepared you’ll be. And remember, you are more than your grades!!

Any other piece of advice, motivational quote, or message you would like to share? Mindfulness mantra: “I am worthy. I am enough. I am exactly where I need to be right now.”