Trading human patients for sheep, cattle, deer and working dogs

Animal and Plant Health NZ scholarship winner Lucy Mossman’s decision to become a rural vet came as an epiphany after chasing other careers.

Raised on a sheep and beef farm in Waerenga-O-Kuri, Gisborne, the Massey University student dreamt of becoming a doctor, stemming from her own experience of a congenital heart defect. Thankfully, open heart surgery at the age of two fixed the “plumbing issue,” and she went on to a life full of sports, gaining seven national titles in gymnastics, trampolining and surf lifesaving.

Lucy in Greenlane Hospital post successful open heart surgery

Her awe of the medical profession sprouted from observing a cohort of people spending their days diagnosing and treating kids to allow them to live healthy lives that otherwise wouldn’t. But “it wasn’t to be”, she says.

Arriving in Otago as an 18 year-old, with no competitive gymnastics, surf life-saving or the farm to keep her busy, she “got stuck into the playground that is Dunedin”. The library was substituted for “exploring the surrounding hills and coast, snowboarding trips and possibly a few too many beers”.

Instead of the long hours of med school, she completed a Bachelor of Science, majoring in human nutrition. It wasn’t until she was working on the family farm as a fresh graduate that the puzzle pieces fell into place.

Her eureka moment came to her as she watched a young vet pregnancy testing out-of-season heifers. The 24 year-old realised that being a rural veterinarian “really did fit the bill” – combining her love of the outdoors, farming and medicine. “I’m still stumped that I didn’t choose it earlier.”

Small mammal handling at Massey

“Since that day, I haven’t looked back”. Now halfway through the veterinary science degree, “my excitement for joining the veterinary profession is only growing”. She can’t wait to improve the health and welfare of animals. Mossman acknowledges the role of animal health products in helping achieve these goals, as well as ensuring farm productivity, food security and supporting New Zealand’s economy.

The win will ease some financial pressures of student life, including funding the veterinary placements Lucy must complete for her studies.

When she hasn’t got her head in a book, Lucy enjoys CrossFit, fishing, hunting and snowboarding.