Like father, like sons


(l-r) Jim, Colin, Robert and Eric Lawrence at spring convocation in Saskatoon

When Eric Lawrence (DVM’13) received his degree during the convocation ceremony at TCU Place in Saskatoon, Sask. on June 6, he joined a small but growing group of people—he became the seventh member of his family to become a veterinarian.

Following in the footsteps of his father Jim (DVM’78) and brothers Colin (DVM’05) and Robert (DVM’08), Eric chose a career path that just seems natural for the Lawrence family. Eric stated rather matter-of-factly, “I did it because I know it’s a good career, and I could not think of any reasons not to [become a vet].”

“Dad isn’t one to publicly announce his feelings, but he and mom are very proud of their sons.”

Other veterinarians in the family are Eric’s uncle Dennis McCartney (DVM’75), his cousin Clair Ainsworth, nee McCartney (DVM’05) and his sister-in-law, Robert’s wife, Jolene (DVM’08).

Eric credits his father’s work ethic and attitude as major influences in his decision. “He always brought home a positive opinion and portrayal of the profession, even if it was 3 am and minus 40 during calving season.” And Jim earned the respect of “everyone in the community,” including his sons. “He was always happy, never fed up. All three of us boys wanted to be like dad.”

After receiving an agriculture degree majoring in animal science, with distinction, from the University of Alberta, Eric faced an uphill climb to earn a seat as a student at the University of Saskatchewan’s very competitive Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM). “I had to apply four times. I was getting frustrated, but my dad and brothers were encouraging, telling me, ‘It’s worth it.’ I stuck with it because I had a support system within my family.”

As a student, Eric spent two years on the WCVM student council, working with other health science student representatives to promote One Health, the movement to better understand the interactions between animal, human and ecosystem health. The fact the U of S integrates the WCVM and world-class facilities like InterVac-VIDO into the One Health model “makes the U of S unique.”

Eric spent a summer in Uganda through Global Vets. His time there involved a sustainable development project helping local farmers and conservation work that included tracking lions and putting radio collars on them.

Out in the field or in the clinic is where Eric feels most at home. “I like the hands-on learning. It’s like a light bulb went on,” Eric said of his fourth year at the WCVM, when students spend most of their time doing clinical work after three years of primarily classroom learning.

Last summer Eric was able to get more hands-on learning with his dad and brothers at Jim’s veterinary clinic in Westlock, Alta. “Whether we were at the clinic or at home or at the lake, we all got along.” The close-knit family lives and breathes veterinary care. “It’s what our family does; it’s part of our daily conversation. Supper time talk includes how great the meal is but also that rectal prolapse on a cow.”

Eric now moves on to a job at the Central Animal Hospital in Saskatoon, where he will focus on small animal care. He’s relieved to find a job in Saskatoon so he can be near his fiancé, Deanna, who, you guessed it, is studying to become a veterinarian at the WCVM—which will help her feel more comfortable participating in mealtime conversations.

Read more about the Lawrence family in WCVM Today.