Honoring a Colleague and Supporting Future Veterinarians

Mike Maynard + Phoebe cat

Honoring a Colleague and Supporting Future Veterinarians

Dr. Michael Maynard, DVM ’17, was a talented veterinarian and surgeon who always wanted to help others, both as a classmate and a practicing clinician. During his time at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, he always took the initiative to lend a helping hand to fellow students. After graduation, he led the surgery department at Greenhill Humane Society (Eugene, Oregon) where he helped one of the most vulnerable populations of veterinary patients—shelter animals.

“[Mike] was a wonderful part of our class because he was super interested in surgery and when it came to suturing and anatomy, either had a natural tact for surgery or previous experience and would be the first to help us,” said Dr. Lori Hammond, DVM ’17. “He even organized labs outside of school time and would lead us in different suturing techniques.”

Beyond his talent in surgery and leadership qualities, at the core, Maynard was a warm and gentle individual.

“He was just very kind and welcoming,” Hammond said. “You always felt really accepted when you were talking to him. He was very gentle. Even if you didn’t know him well, you always felt very safe in his presence.”

Tragically, Maynard took his own life on February 14, 2021, after a long battle with severe depression. An unfortunate reality is that he was among many veterinarians struggling with the same battle, some of whom also choose to end their own lives because of mental health struggles combined with the psychological distress stemming from their profession.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 1 in 6 veterinarians contemplate suicide. Compared to the general population, veterinarians are around three to four times more likely to die by suicide.

“The type of person who enters the veterinary field tends to be very empathetic,” said Hammond. “They’ve probably wanted to follow this path for most of their lives, but when they get to the real world, it might not be everything they had dreamt of since they were 4 or 5 years old and that can be shocking. Additionally, it’s very expensive to go through veterinary school; a lot of people come out with more than $100,000 dollars in debt and in a career that doesn’t actually pay that well. It’s a career that has one of the highest debt-to-income ratios. If you get there and you feel like it wasn’t what you thought it would be, you feel stuck because you have this high debt and don’t feel like you can do anything else.”

The veterinary medical profession, though an extremely rewarding calling, can weigh heavily on individuals for these and several other reasons. Maynard’s classmates wanted to honor his memory by establishing the Michael A. Maynard, DVM ’17 Memorial Scholarship to assist others through the challenges of the profession. The scholarship will support students who have an interest in shelter medicine or surgery, and who have had life experiences with overcoming barriers such as those traditionally faced by members of the LGBTQIA community. You can give to the scholarship fund, which is close to reaching its goal of $50k and becoming a permanent endowment.

If you or someone you know is facing depression or other mental health struggles - whether in the veterinary medical profession or not - take some time to reach out today. UC Davis offers mental health resources. You can also call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.

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