When Sheila McGuirk, D.V.M., earned her degree in veterinary medicine, there were not many practicing women veterinarians. However, instilled with confidence, she set out to pave a pathway in the dairy industry.
As a woman veterinarian, you were a pioneer in your field. What made you pursue this career path?
Sheila: I loved the prospects. I wanted to work with large animals. I loved to teach. I grew up in a big family where everybody had to play a role. I never really saw my gender as holding me back. I just knew I had to get in and do what needed to be done. I had challenges, but I just stuck to the thought, “I can do this.” That mindset served me well.
There are lots of examples I can give you along the way where somebody was very disappointed because the person taking care of their animals was a woman. They didn’t like that. But I would just tell them I was sorry they were disappointed that they had to work with a woman, but I felt confident taking care of their cow.
I would always tell them they had options and give them the potential to explore the options or let me go ahead and have a crack at it and see how it went. Nobody ever stopped me.
It’s not as if I was always successful in treatments, because I certainly had failures in my career, and you learn from failures.
I love my profession as a veterinarian. I love how it integrated many things that I love: the outdoors, physical activity, cows, and farms.
Who were your role models, and what did you learn from them?
Sheila: I had incredible role models.
My role models were people who were enthusiastic, wanted to make a difference, great problem solvers, decision makers, brought new knowledge, were never afraid to confront criticism, and always wanted to get better. They were people who were willing to take chances, learn from other species, learn from people and say, “I wonder if this would help cattle?”
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To read more about Sheila McGuirk, click on the title to read the full feature, “The cows brought her to Madison.”
Additional coverage in Hoard’s Dairyman Intel can be found by clicking on the links: