BAR HARBOR—The new veterinarian at Acadia Veterinary Hospital grew up on Mount Desert Island. After studying in Scotland and traveling the world from 2015 to 2020, she has now returned home to work.
Bethany Van Gorder told the Islander that prior to her enrollment at the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine, her only international travel had been to Canada. That soon changed as her veterinary studies took her to Scotland, and from there, around the world.
The Mount Desert Island High School graduate found herself living and studying in the largest city in Scotland, which she learned to navigate by bus, train and on foot. Van Gorder eventually got a car and a UK driver’s license to travel into Scottish Highlands for “hillwalking,” as hiking is called in Scotland.
“I made lifelong friendships; that made living so far away from my friends and family so much easier,” Van Gorder recalls. Her dog Riley also made the trip to live with her in Scotland. Riley did okay on the plane, Van Gorder said, and once in Glasgow, “became very city-savvy.”
Over the course of four years, Van Gorder completed external studies (or internships) in Ireland, India, Morocco and Zimbabwe, as well as the U.S.
Van Gorder said her favorite external study was in Zimbabwe, where she gained experience with animal husbandry.
“It was three weeks of riding horses out in Africa,” she said, “wandering about in the bush.” Each morning at sunrise, she and her fellow students rode out to round up the stock horses and bring them in. They commonly saw zebras, giraffes and other wildlife.
Van Gorder said she first got the idea to study in Scotland after attending a presentation by University of Glasgow when she was a University of Maine student majoring in animal science. “It sat in the back of my mind,” she said.
When applying to veterinary schools, she included Glasgow “for fun, not a serious consideration.” But when she was accepted, she began considering it seriously.
The University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine is accredited by many veterinarian associations worldwide, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education and the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council. According to Van Gorder, a selling point of the university is that “you could have licensure anywhere in the world.”
After completing her studies and achieving her credentials, Van Gorder returned to Mount Desert Island in early June. This was a little earlier than scheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Later in the month, she attended her graduation celebration by Zoom. She began working at Acadia Veterinary Hospital, where she had worked previously as a veterinarian assistant.
Coming back, Van Gorder said, “has been a really good experience. It’s really fun.” She pointed out that as a new veterinarian fresh out of school, “it’s really helpful to know the clients.”