Melinda Patterson always thought she wanted to be a veterinarian. But she knew the job was right for her after working with families and their pets in a clinical setting while attending veterinary school.
Now, the Ahwatukee Foothills 29-year-old is doing what she loves as a veterinarian at Family Vet Care of Chandler.
She spends her days working with moms, dads and kids to make sure their four-legged family members stay healthy. Her work includes preventative medicine, pain management and laser surgery.
“I’m looking forward to establishing relationships with families and seeing them as they grow up with their animals,” she said. “It’s as fun as I thought it would be. It’s been fun learning the family dynamics.”
So, what does she prefer: cats or dogs?
“They each have their own quirks that are fun to work with,” said Patterson, who shares her home with her two cats, Piper and Mako, and two dogs, Sydney and Shelby.
Patterson grew up attending Mesa schools and was involved in band, tennis and badminton. Despite a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s disease in ninth grade, Patterson was able to graduate as one of the top students at Red Mountain High School.
“I liked school so I didn’t miss classes unless I had to,” said Patterson, who played the oboe in the school orchestra.
She had 10 months of radiation and chemotherapy, and was declared cancer free during the middle of her sophomore year. She has had no recurrences since. “Knock on wood,” she said.
After graduating from the University of Arizona in 2000, Patterson worked for a couple of years in a research lab doing DNA sequencing. For a time she was thinking of going into research, instead of working with animals in a clinic.
She met her husband, Gage, her senior year at UA, and stayed in Tucson while he finished his master’s degree. He’s a microbiologist for the state department of health, working in the bioterrorism department.
After realizing research wasn’t the right route, she went to Colorado State University and earned her doctorate in veterinary medicine.
Patterson’s boss, Bill Wodiske of Ahwatukee Foothills, said Patterson fits the bill of a veterinarian as a “very caring, loving person.”
“She’s bright, young and intelligent and really on the ball,” said Wodiske, a veterinarian who owns three Valley vet clinics.
After she’s proficient in all things dogs and cats, Patterson wants to learn more about taking care of other animals, such as birds, snakes and tortoises. In the future, she would also like to have her own clinic or be a partner in an established clinic.