Dr. Kristin Beckley traces her passion for animals back to her childhood farm in Scholls, Oregon. From first grade on, she says she was happiest in the barn with the family’s horses, miniature donkeys, llamas, game birds, beef cattle, pigs, sheep, dogs, and cats.
“Owning that many animals is a lot of hard work, but all that hard work is rewarded on a daily basis,” she says. “Farm life was one of the greatest gifts my parents provided me growing up.”
With over 13 years of experience in veterinary medicine, Dr. Beckley is passionate about providing personalized care for pets at every stage in life. This week, we’re learning more about low-stress handling, the future of veterinary medicine, and how Dr. Beckley works with families to support the human-animal bond.
You grew up near here in Scholls, Oregon. What was farm life like? How did it shape your love of animals?
KB: Moving out to the country when I was in first grade was truly life-changing. I still love the sound of horses nickering in the morning when you enter the barn to feed them, seeing the clean stalls and freshly blown aisles, a newly stacked ton of hay, new fencing in the pasture, and more. Watching my parents work (and working alongside them), I learned the value of hard work, realized my passion for animals, and knew my path would be veterinary medicine.
What’s most rewarding about your career in veterinary medicine?
KB: Developing strong relationships with my clients and patients makes my career very rewarding. I am so thankful that pet owners open up to me and include me in their lives! I also love getting to know my patients, doing my best to learn their preferences so each experience at the hospital goes as smoothly as possible. Animals provide so much love and support to their humans. It’s truly an honor to play a role in keeping them healthy, promoting good quality of life and longevity.
Are there any challenges to practicing vet medicine in this day and age?
KB: I think it goes without saying now that veterinary medicine is not a profession for the faint at heart. This career demands so much from you professionally, intellectually, personally, and emotionally. Without a healthy workplace culture, veterinary professionals get burnt out.
Working in the veterinary field is very demanding and we do our absolute best to be there for our patients, whether it’s for a healthy pet visit or to help during times of illness. Our goal is to provide excellent care throughout the life of the pet with focus on good quality of life and longevity.
As a veterinarian certified to provide Low-Stress Handling, what are some of the measures you take to eliminate stress, anxiety, and fear for patients during their visits?
KB: My goal with each appointment is to get to know my patients, learn how they prefer to be handled, and develop a bond so they trust me and recognize me for future visits. Animals are great at communicating and it’s important to read their cues so you know how to best work with them. Some patients like to be talked to, others prefer silence. Some like to be petted, others prefer to hide under a towel. Some warm up to me while I chat with their owners, others prefer to approach you and be ignored at first, the list of possibilities goes on.
Once we’ve learned how a patient prefers to be handled, we make notes in their record so the next visit can be even more successful. There are also patients who have had poor past experiences or who are more anxious and benefit from oral medications administered at home prior to their veterinary visits. My goal with each patient is to minimize stress as much as possible, to develop a strong relationship of trust, and provide quality care for that pet’s lifetime.
What’s one thing you want every pet owner to know about their pet’s health or veterinary care?
KB: I want every pet owner to know that we at Mountainside Veterinary Hospital genuinely have your pet’s interest at the forefront. I love working with my team to provide the best possible experience and care for our patients, making sure to treat each animal as if they are our own pets. We all have the desire to not only provide a great experience for our patients, but also to provide the best care possible.
You’ve been with Mountainside Veterinary Hospital (MVH) from the beginning. What do you think makes this clinic and its culture unique? What role does the clinic serve in the community?
KB: I’m so proud to have been with Mountainside since the beginning and love that this company is built on respect—respect for our clients, respect for our patients, and respect for every MVH team member. As the practice owners, Steve and Ronna go above and beyond to promote a healthy workplace culture which trickles down into our ability to give generously to our patients and their families. They have developed a culture of respect, kindness, and harmony .
MVH provides high-quality, compassionate veterinary care to the community. But we also give back by supporting our local schools (supporting school sports teams, Career Day at middle school, donations to auction at K-8 schools), Pixie Project, Coffee Creek Puppy Program, Make A Wish, and more. I could not be more proud to be a member of the MVH team.
Do you have a most memorable patient or moment during your 13+ year career in veterinary medicine?
KB: I have so many stories I like to share from my days working as a veterinary assistant, receptionist, vet student, and now as a small animal veterinarian! However, some of my most favorite stories are about helping a fearful cat become more comfortable in the clinic, finally getting a fearful dog to take treats from my hand, working hard with my teammates to complete our surgeries, appointments, or drop-offs in a timely manner... I don’t have one specific moment that stands out, but rather many moments that build on each other.
I think it’s especially important to celebrate all the mini-milestones. For example, when a client has worked hard at home to provide treatments needed to resolve their pet’s health issue. Or reading a histopathology report saying I was able to successfully remove a cancerous mass with clean margins. Even being able to successfully extract teeth in a patient that’s been in pain, knowing they will now experience better days because their mouth no longer hurts. It truly is the small victories that I find the most rewarding.
Are there any areas of research or new developments in veterinary medicine that you’re most excited about?
KB: I’m excited that we’re learning more about animals, how they perceive things and how they prefer to be handled. I’m excited about upcoming medicinal advances that will make it easier for pet owners to care for some patients with chronic diseases. For example, we’re finally starting to develop some options for arthritis management and easier diabetes management in cats. I’m excited for better surgical tools, dental work, and the list goes on. I like that the future of veterinary medicine looks like strong veterinarian-client-patient relationships where patients are treated with care and compassion.
When you’re not at the clinic, what are you up to?
KB: I’m a busy mom with three amazing children, my 10 year-old daughter and twin 9 year-old sons. I love volunteering at the elementary school to support the teachers and students with their learning. I go jogging with our Black Lab, Justin and I’m actively training our Golden Retriever puppy, Mila. Other than that, I love experiencing all that Oregon has to offer with my awesome husband, Joey. Bird watching, baking, going to the plant nursery, spending time in my hometown of Scholls. We also attend plenty of local sporting events. Whether it’s to watch my kids, a local college, or professional team—I love it all! (Go Beavs! Go Blazers! Go Timbers!)
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