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Veterinarian Spotlight: Dr. Jason Stanhill

Posted by Cari Wise on August 17, 2016 at 6:00 AM
Cari Wise
Dr. Cari Wise is a 1999 graduate of the University of Missouri, College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed a Masters degree in Education from Argosy University in 2015. Throughout her career, Dr. Wise has utilized her veterinary education in variety of settings including private and corporate small animal practice, shelter medicine, spay/neuter clinics, veterinary relief services, start-up practice ownership, and veterinary technician education.


Dr. Jason Stanhill is a graduate of Colorado State University.  Prior to joining the Arizona Humane Society as a Staff Veterinarian, he worked as a general practicioner in Seattle, WA.  

Describe your career path…the route you took from graduation to what you are doing today.

JS: My first job out of school was at a private practice in the Seattle area. After eight months of learning from two incredible veterinarians there, I moved home to Phoenix, intent on working in public service, and managed to convince the folks at the county shelter that a new vet with very little surgical experience could make a significant contribution. The learning curve was insanely steep, but I worked hard, practiced sound medicine, and quickly found myself in a position to help interns and local veterinarians hone their surgical skills. Before too long, a chance to join the team at the Arizona Humane Society (AHS) came along, and I knew it was the opportunity I’d been waiting for.

What does your job entail?

JS: AHS is remarkable in that we’re a non-profit organization that functions both as a shelter and a community practice, and that allows me to wear different hats depending on our needs. While I serve primarily as a general practitioner in our veterinary clinic, I also get to be part of the shelter team, spay/neuter and vaccination clinics, mobile outreach projects, and kids camps. In addition, AHS serves as the state’s designated responder for animals in distress during natural disasters, and I get the opportunity to be a part of AHS’ disaster response team. 


What are the best things about your job?

JS: The best part of my job is watching the community take such an active role in our work. Through the grace of our generous donors, we’re able to tackle infectious diseases like parvo and distemper that are largely considered untreatable in most shelter environments. On the public side of things, we’re blessed to have several grants and monetary gifts that allow us to help keep pets in their loving homes by assisting those pet owners who need medical care for their companion animals. We also get the chance to work side by side with an outstanding corps of volunteers and foster heroes who not only keep us afloat, but motivate us with their contagious enthusiasm.

What are some challenges you face in your position?

JS: I’d be lying if I didn’t say that compassion fatigue is the biggest issue most of us face. I’m lucky to work for an organization that’s so committed to saving as many lives as possible, but you can’t save them all and it takes its toll. It can be difficult to remember to take care of yourself sometimes, especially for those of us who feel like we’re built to care for others, but it’s as important as anything else we do.

Looking back, what do you know now that you wish you would have known as a Vet Student?

It’s not as scary as you think to say, “I don’t know.”

What are some challenges/changes you see for the veterinary profession?

The student loan debt to income ratio for newer veterinarians absolutely terrifies me. Nothing else even comes close.

What is your most memorable patient or moment in veterinary medicine?

JS: As a vet student, I spent a summer at a marine mammal rescue in Southern California. Most of our patients were malnourished elephant seal pups and adult sea lions in the throes of domoic acid neurotoxicity, but somehow we ended up with an abandoned two-week old sea lion. We mixed a rather disgusting fish gruel and bottle fed him several times a day for weeks, and pretty quickly I was hooked on the little guy. Rather than barking like the adults to get attention, he’d make this ridiculous retching noise, so whenever I worked with him I’d say, “Talk to me, Goose,” and he did. Yes, that was a Top Gun reference, and yes, I ended up naming him Goose.

What are some of your hobbies outside of veterinary medicine?

JS: I probably spend more time binge-watching Netflix while doing crosswords and Ken-Ken puzzles than I’d care to admit, and during football season I can be found yelling at the TV for each and every Packers game. That said, I love getting outside to hike, run, travel, and try new microbrews wherever I can, and to the horror of my techs, I sing…a lot.

Do you have a dream species that you would like to work with?

JS: Humpback whales

How would you like to see technology affect vet med?

JS: I’d love to see the trends in miniaturization and mobile technology make advanced imaging (MRI, CT, ultrasound) an affordable, accessible reality in every clinic as soon as possible.

Any other words of advice about your specialty?

JS: If you have an interest in any aspect of shelter medicine or there’s something specific that you’d like to work on, please volunteer your time at a local shelter. We could always use the help, we’re happy to teach, and you may just fall in love with public service.

Veterinary Terminology Primer

PRIMER2.pngLook it UP or break it DOWN?

  • A medical dictionary is an obvious must-have for any veterinary student. Your vocabulary will expand exponentially as you learn.
  • Unfortunately, memorizing definitions, though helpful, is not enough to prepare you to think critically as you move forward in your career.
  • This reference was created to help you understand the foundations of veterinary terminology so you can quickly break down new terms instead of spending time looking them up!
Get the Terminology Primer   Veterinary Terminology Primer

Topics: Veterinarian Spotlight

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