When Sarah Derksen was 11, her pet basset hound came down with Valley Fever. She would go to the vet with him every chance she had.
"I was fascinated by it all," she said.
Unfortunately her pet did not recover from the illness and so she decided some day she wanted to be able to do something to save other people's pets. And she has always loved animals. Now she is sharing that love with Payson area pets, working at Payson Pet Care Veterinary Clinic.
Derksen began doing volunteer work at Phoenix veterinary clinics while she was still in high school and eventually earned status as a veterinary technician. She studied zoology at Northern Arizona University, then earned her doctorate in veterinary medicine from Colorado State University.
She finished veterinary school just this past May. She took a couple of weeks off to visit Hawaii, then came to work in Payson.
Derksen was contacted by Dr. Sandra Snyder of Payson Pet Care about the job. Snyder was acquainted with the young woman's mentor, Dr. Brad Rosonke and he suggested the contact.
"Dr. Snyder wanted to mentor and that is what primarily attracted me to the job," Derksen said. "I also will get to help build the clientele, be involved in the management of the clinic and have the opportunity to buy into the practice at some point."
Snyder said she is surprised and thrilled at Derksen's level of knowledge, "It's above what I expected from a new graduate. I think she's received an excellent education and really knows her stuff. I'm very impressed with the way she's able to interpret medical cases and come to an accurate diagnosis real fast. It's one of my favorite things about her."
Derksen said another reason she accepted the job in Payson was because she wanted to stay in a smaller community.
"My favorite thing is meeting new clients and seeing the benefit of the help I'm able to provide," Derksen said. She does not like to euthanize animals and is finding it difficult when there is no solution to a problem with someone's pets.
Derksen recommends that young people interested in becoming veterinarians take as many science classes as they can in high school, volunteer at an area clinic to see if the field is truly where they want to be and, if it is their calling, find a mentor to guide them into the career.
Payson Pet Care Veterinary Clinic is at 714 N. Beeline Highway. The hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., Saturday. For more information, call (928) 474-8387.