Career Spotlight: Sarah Holm
Sarah Holm, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM)
This is the latest in a series of interviews with Board-certified veterinary specialists of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) to share insights, knowledge and expertise about career opportunities, growth and development. Today we hear from ACVIM Small Animal Internal Medicine Specialist (SAIM) Dr. Sarah Holm.
Dr. Sarah Holm is a new Diplomate of the ACVIM, having achieved Board-certification in Small Animal Internal Medicine (SAIM) in February of this year. She attended Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, New York, where she earned her DVM degree. Following graduation, she completed an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA. She returned to Cornell University to complete a residency in Small Animal Internal Medicine and is currently a SAIM specialist at MedVet in Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys cheering on the Buffalo Bills and spending quality time with her husband (a Veterinary Radiology resident) and their pets.
What inspired you to become a Board-certified veterinary specialist?
I fell in love with Internal Medicine during my rotating internship at University of Pennsylvania. Prior to that, I had always wanted to be a veterinary surgeon. But when I started taking on case responsibilities myself, I realized that I really enjoyed the complex cases with intricate comorbidities. I enjoyed studying the physiology and how each body system overlaps, which makes treating these cases so rewarding!
Are there any resources or pieces of advice that helped you along the way? Is there any advice you would specifically give to job seekers?
Going through vet school, internship, and residency, there have always been clear next steps to progress towards becoming a specialist. After that, the idea of searching for a job can seem daunting and permanent without a set end-point. But there are always opportunities to continue to grow and learn and advance in your career as a specialist. So find a job that will foster that growth and support you as you continue to move forward in your career.
Is there a story or experience that stands out in your mind that reaffirmed your decision to work in specialty veterinary medicine?
There is at least one case each day that reaffirms my decision to work in specialty veterinary medicine! I feel so lucky to work in a field that I still learn something new every day. Even just a few weeks ago, I had a case of a young puppy with a large thyroid goiter and congenital hypothyroidism. I love that I work in a field where I can continue to see new things that I've never seen before!
What does a typical workday look like for you?
My workday can vary quite a bit. I generally start my day by examining all of my current hospitalized patients. Then I review labs and records for new hospitalized patients being transferred to me. I round with the house officers on the service, examine my new hospitalized patients, call clients, and come up with plans for all hospitalized patients. New consults start in the late morning, and procedures are worked in between new consults. Patient discharges and new consult diagnostic results conversations occupy the afternoon. Occasional consults for other services are worked between all of this!
What do you consider one of your career successes? How did you achieve it?
As I am still quite new in my career, becoming a Diplomate of the ACVIM of Small Animal Internal Medicine is my biggest career success! As we all have experienced, this took many years of hard work and long hours to get to this point. It is one of the proudest achievements of my life.
What do you consider a challenge you’ve faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
Moving to a new city and starting to build my reputation as a new specialist in the area was a daunting challenge. I spent all of vet school and residency in Ithaca, New York at Cornell University. So moving to Columbus, Ohio without a built-in client base was intimidating. I was able to overcome this by taking time to talk to the local referral partners and primary care veterinarians. By fielding their calls and taking time to discuss cases, I was able to earn their trust and start taking on more referrals.
What impact has the ACVIM had in shaping your career?
The vast network of mentors in both my specialty (Small Animal Internal Medicine) and all other specialties within the college have been invaluable. I plan to continue to volunteer for committees within the ACVIM in order to promote collaboration and growth in the college.
What advice do you have for those aspiring to become Diplomates?
I recommend that you network as much as possible! There are so many conferences and other opportunities to meet and connect with specialists. This can be very helpful when you start to look for jobs.
Finally, what is something unique about your career, or career path?
My career path is somewhat unique in that I didn't necessarily know I wanted to be a veterinarian my whole life. I studied Music Business at New York University before deciding that I wanted to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. I played bass guitar in a few different rock bands and toured around the country when I was young. When I finally found my love for veterinary medicine, I actually decided that I wanted to be a surgeon. So I was late to find my true calling in Internal Medicine, but am grateful for every step along the way that got me here!