Ask a Veterinarian: Julia Bentley
By: Dr. Julia Bentley, DVM High School Adventures, Vet Medicine
At Broadreach, one of our main goals is to help middle and high school students discover their passions through real-life experiences during our summer programs. If you’re like many Broadreach alumni, you’re wondering how to pursue these interests in college and beyond. We asked one of the rockstar instructors in our Broadreach community, Dr. Julia Bentley, DVM, to share her experiences and advice with high school students interested in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine!
What did you study as an undergrad? What advanced degrees and/or professional qualifications do you hold?
Animal science in undergrad, veterinary medicine in vet school (professional qualification=Doctor of Veterinary Medicine)
What is your relationship with Broadreach?
I’ve led [Broadreach’s former vet trip] Bali Vet med twice and Ecuador once all as the academic instructor.
What do you do when not working with Broadreach?
So many things! Overall, I’m a veterinarian. I work in an animal shelter and also work in private practice with dogs, cats, and horses. I am on the board of a non-profit where I travel to the Dominican to provide veterinary care to underserved communities.
What do you love the most about what you currently do?
I love the diversity that my education has offered me. I can work with a variety of species in a variety of settings. I can work on animal welfare policy, research and clinical medicine. The possibilities are endless! I also love solving problems in a creative way; there is an endless supply of problems that need to be addressed in this profession.
What skills help you the most to do what you do?
#1 is communication (among team members, students, donors, clients, etc). Being flexible and adaptable is also super important, as is emotional intelligence. Surprisingly, the hard skills are important but much less essential; you can always learn those skills!
What’s something you didn’t know about your profession or field that you wish you had known as a teenager?
I wish I could have really understood the pressures and stresses on veterinarians. Many people told me about them, but as a young adult, you can’t understand what that actually means or how it affects your daily life.
What advice do you have for teens who are in becoming veterinarians?
I think it’s really important for prospective students to understand the reality and pressure of being a veterinarian. Often, students only see the cool things we do: getting to be around animals all day, etc. They don’t get to see the pressures of making end-of-life decisions, working with families who don’t have the financial resources to properly care for their pets, the negative stigma many of the public have about vets, and having to “prove” themselves and their experiences. Many people would rather take veterinary advice from TikTok than their trained medical professional.
Do you have a favorite Broadreach memory you’d like to share?
I was working with a group of students in Bali and they were learning to draw blood on a bird. Now, drawing blood is a difficult enough skill for veterinary students who have lots of training in anatomy and plenty of exposure to how it’s done. These students were learning on a small bird, arguably one of the more difficult blood draws you’ll be faced with. I had a student who was very, very nervous. I find this self-doubt is often a HUGE hindrance to learning the technique. It was visibly clear that she was nervous. The whole group of students gathered around to support her and damned if she didn’t hit that vein like a seasoned exotics vet!! The energy in the room, and for the remainder of that day, was unbelievable! Those moments are why I love teaching!
Julia is a repeat Broadreach instructor and veterinarian. She led Broadreach’s previous veterinary trip in Bali in the summers of 2017 and 2018 and our wildlife conservation trip, Amazon + Galapagos Eco Adventure, in the summer of 2022.