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Death of veterinary students | VETgirl Veterinary Continuing Education Blog

As many of you already know, we have lost two more veterinary colleagues this past week. A fourth year student, Kelly Smith, from Michigan State University and a fourth year student, Whitney Engler, from UC Davis died this week.

Due to these losses and the others we have experienced over the past year, we are inviting all of the veterinary schools across the country to join together to share our support and condolences with those affected by these tragedies.

This Thursday, April 2, we hope that all of the schools can find a time to get together in whatever way they see fit to show our friends around the country that we are here to support one another. Whether it's a shared moment of silence, a candlelit vigil or any other form of support and reflection, we look forward to seeing everyone come together this Thursday, April 2nd.

Please work together with your school Deans to organize and ensure that everyone is aware and supportive of the plan.

To share the events and support, please consider using #vetstudentsunited to upload and event photographs or messages of support.


8 thoughts on “Death of veterinary students | VETgirl Veterinary Continuing Education Blog

  1. If anyone knows of a way that we can have a photo taken from each school’s event and forwarded to the families suffering through these losses, please let me know. On our end here in Davis, CA we can ensure they are delivered to Whitney’s family as I know it would be greatly appreciated to know that the entire veterinary school community is behind them in these difficult times. Thanks

    • Hi Adam,

      Students here at Murdoch University want to share our condolences. We lost a member of our staff last year and have been trying our best to make sure no else feels like they are in the same position. Can you message me with an e-mail address where we can send pictures of our event in support of Whitney and Kelly?

  2. Does mental illness disproportionately affect vet students/veterinarians? There are a lot of mentally ill people at my school… A LOT. I mean, you’ve never seen anything like it. Is this common?

    • 3rd year vet student here. Vet school is hard. Its hard to get in, it’s a hard degree to do. I measure my semesters in ‘feet’, as in how many feet high is my pile of notes and textbooks for the semester – hint last semester was over 5 feet high! We tend to be type-A personalities and high achievers. Vets are expected to do more pro-bono work than any other profession. The pay is crap. You add that all together and yes, you get metal illness, higher than normal suicide rates, divorce rates and alcoholism.

  3. It seems there is a trend for these tragic events to occur in vet schools/in practice no matter where in the world you are.

    My condolences to all the friends and family involved, it is something that never fails to rock the community.

  4. Students at Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine gathered this morning for a moment of silence to remember Kelly Smith and Whitney Engler, two veterinary students who passed away last week. We gathered around a tree planted in remembrance of our own John Matthew Stark, a Mississippi State veterinary student who passed away in April of 2013 during his second year. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost a loved one and the veterinary students who have lost beloved classmates. We are honored to stand together during this difficult time of loss and feel thankful to be a part of such a strong, connected community. #vetstudentsunited

  5. Dear Colleagues
    We are part of a small community and when part of our community is in pain, we are all deeply affected and it is important we acknowledge the heartache that some of our friends and colleagues are feeling these last few weeks. In case you are unaware, two fourth year veterinary students lost their lives recently ( The deaths of these two colleagues have left a big hole and many student associations are reaching out in unique ways to remember those students and reaffirm our commitment to each other. Many schools are celebrating the connections we have as veterinarians and how these connections can act as a safety net, when needed, so we can all support each other in both tangible and non-tangible ways all in an effort to help us move on from these tragedies. At SMU, our culture is inclusive with just the thinnest of lines separating student from teacher and we all grieve for the community. One way we have chosen at SMU to remember these two colleagues is to celebrate the relationship we have at this special school and get together for a potluck meal (details coming!) and our ice cream social. Cards will be available for signing on April 5th at the ice cream social. Please come and be a part of our potluck meal and ice cream social as a way of supporting students in a time of loss in the greater veterinary community.
    Alex Frolek and Karen Rosenthal

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