By Carole Robinson, Senior Staff Writer
To a father there is a special, proud feeling of building a legacy when a son says, “I want to be like you, Dad,” and means it.
Drs. Forrest and Judith Reynolds DVM and son James after the White Coat ceremony at UT College of Veterinary Medicine. Submitted
Future veterinarians, Cason and Colton McInturff with their father, Dr. Monty McInturff of Tennessee Equine Hospital after they were awarded their white coats. Submitted
Local veterinarians Dr. Monty McInturff of Tennessee Equine Hospital and Dr. Forrest W. Reynolds of Williamson County Animal Hospital know that feeling.
Both of McInturff’s sons, Cason and Colton and one of Reynolds three sons, James, recently donned new white coats and entered the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville.
The traditional White Coat Ceremony for incoming veterinary students was especially significant for the “senior” veterinarians.
Usually an upperclassman mentor awards the white coat—unless a student’s parent is a vet. Recalling their own ceremony and knowing much of what their sons will be experiencing the next four years, McInturff and Reynolds proudly slipped a white coat onto each of the young men.
“As a dad, this is a piece of my legacy,” McInturff said.
“It makes me very proud of both the McInturff boys and James,” Reynolds said. “When [James] decided to become a vet I congratulated him, and then went to the other side of the door and did the jig.”
It really wasn’t an accident that Cason, Colton or James decided to pursue veterinary medicine; a love of animals is in their blood, although it took Cason a little longer to realize his passion, McInturff said.
When Cason graduated from college he took a job “in industry.”
It wasn’t until younger brother Colton graduated two years later and began applying to veterinarian schools that he allowed his passion to surface.
“You have to love animals to be in this profession and you have to love people,” McInturff said. “[Animals] don’t fill out surveys, people do. You have to relate to people. You have to be honest, trustworthy and serve as a partner in the care of an [animal]. I’m a proud dad and I feel like the boys will do well because they love animals and people.”
H.T. McInturff, Monty’s father and mentor, who has been involved in the agriculture business for as long as Monty can remember.
Monty recalled that his father once told him “to pick something I thought I would be happy doing.”
Although his dad raised cattle, Monty said he chose “the horse route because they are athletes that need care.”
With their parents’ experiences as a guide, all three boys enter this field of study and chosen profession with eyes wide open.
Both of James’ parents and an uncle are veterinarians and graduates of UTCVM, and his mother gave up her practice after their third of four children. Once all four kids were in school she became an eighth grade science teacher at Brentwood Academy and is still there.
“Just like Monty’s boys—growing up, James saw the good, the bad and the ugly,” Reynolds said. “He grew up listening to our discussions at the table. He has a special proclivity for care giving. He enjoys the whole gamut. To be a veterinarian you’ve got to be wired to give and to serve. My boy is and it fits him beautifully.”
According to the fathers, there were 900 applicants for 85 positions at UTCVM. Of those 85 first year students, 14 are male, the remainder female and 10 percent won’t make it the full four years.
“Vet school is not hard, it’s just really, really in depth,” McInturff said. “Fourteen-hour days of study Monday thru Friday and weekends for the next four years.”
They’ll absorb knowledge of physiology and pharmacology, but most of all, they must know how to problem solve.
“Judith and I are pleased to have [James] experiencing the same things we did,” Reynolds said. “There’s something wonderful, exciting about a young person who has found their gift. These boys were sensitive to what veterinary medicine had to offer—the sacrifices…the demands…the emotion. About the time you have something figured out medicine will humble you.”
Although the McInturff boys are pursuing careers in doctoring animals like their father, they have different ideas of what they plan to do once they receive their degree. Cason is interested in owning his own small animal clinic and it will be in Williamson County, McInturff said.
Colton has dreams of being an equine surgeon, which means advanced training and residency.
“I’m hoping he would be here with me,” McInturff said, adding an important caveat.
“They’re not doing this for me, they’re doing it for them. I am super proud God has blessed my family. My wife Lisa and I have achieved a lot, but this is the biggest thing. We give all our thanks to God.”
According to Reynolds, James is “leaving all his options wide open. That’s the beauty of our profession. When you graduate you graduate with a degree in veterinary medicine. You can specialize, but you don’t have to.”
And, if he should decide to join dad in his practice, well, that will be just fine.
Posted on: 10/24/2013