“A lot of my fondest childhood memories involve horses, cattle and our family pets,” says Bateman, a first-year student at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM). “I helped my dad with the management of the land and cattle as much as I could. I was always happy to skip a day of school to lend a hand.”
Even after his family moved to the Yukon when Bateman was 12, he managed to return to Alberta —often during the summer months when he’d work for his relatives as a farm and ranch hand and gain experience with large animals.
As Bateman attended high school and then began his undergraduate classes at Yukon University (YukonU), he missed the ranch lifestyle, but he was also able to appreciate the people and the unique opportunities that the Yukon provided.
“Living in the North has certainly shifted my world view and instilled in me a sense of respect for other cultures and ways of life,” says Bateman.
His affection for the North increased during the four ski seasons he spent volunteering as a junior ski patroller at Mt. Sima, a ski resort near Whitehorse. The job required him to help with general hill maintenance while working with the public.
“I think my duties as a junior ski patroller helped improve my leadership and communication skills,” says Bateman, who occasionally helped at accident scenes. “That probably helped shape my ability to remain calm. It was a source of social interaction, a means of contributing to the community, and, admittedly, a good excuse to go skiing.”
Although Bateman had never seriously considered a career in veterinary medicine when he was young, his interest in the profession evolved over time — particularly when he began to appreciate evidence-based science during high school and the following two years of undergraduate studies.
After working toward a Diploma of Northern Science at YukonU, Bateman pursued his interest in science further by entering the University of Alberta’s Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (animal science) degree program.
Back in Alberta, Bateman began volunteering at Lacombe Veterinary Centre, and he particularly enjoyed observing and assisting WCVM graduate Dr. Skylar Bieleny (DVM’14) who helped him to gain insight into the challenges of working with large animals.
“I enjoyed all aspects of the experience, and I’m very grateful for the opportunities I had to ride with Dr. Bieleny,” says Bateman. “Skylar is very good at what he does, and I wouldn’t be where I am now without his guidance and support.”
Bateman is also appreciative of the encouragement and support that he received from his family, especially his dad: “I’ve worked alongside my dad more than anyone else. I have always leaned on my dad as a source of sound and honest advice, and my work ethic and academic motivations are built on the examples he has set.”
Bateman enjoys the WCVM’s animal handling labs and the opportunities they provide to develop practical skills. He also likes the social aspect of college — the chance to spend time with his classmates over the next four years.
While Bateman looks forward to a future career in private practice, he also acknowledges the need for veterinarians to work in public service and would consider working in regulatory medicine at some point in his career.
“I definitely want to focus my career on large animal medicine,” says Bateman. “That’s what brought me here in the first place. But I also recognize the importance of maintaining the health and integrity of our agri-food system.”