Early this month Nat Geo Mundo’s hit television series, Doctor Vet Los Angeles returned for its second season. Following several Latino veterinarians as they tend to various animals from dogs to cats, horses to peacocks, and even snakes, the show is a way for the California-based doctors to share their journey caring and ensuring that their furry patients live full and healthy lives with millions of viewers.
And for this season, the doctors step outside of their clinic and cross the border to help animals in dire need of medical attention in Mexico and Guatemala.
This season of Doctor Vet Los Angeles, Dr. Giselle Concepción, Dr. Carlos López, and Dr. Georgina Márquez will take viewers on a journey as they tend to animals in both California and animals that need their help in their home countries. The show will also give a personal insight on how the doctors balance their hectic schedule caring for animals and maintaining their personal lives.
For Dr. Giselle Concepción hectic is an understatement. The show follows her around as she balances being both a single-mom and a veterinarian for a canine rehabilitation center that provides acupuncture treatments and mobile clinic for pets all around the city. But being a veterinarian is important for Dr. Concepción who devotes herself to her job. Also, as a pet owner of three dogs she can relate to her patient’s owners and understands the importance of caring for a beloved pet whose health is at risk.
Meanwhile, Dr. Georgina Márquez and Dr. Carlos López will take audience members outside of Los Angeles to Mexico and Guatemala.
Heading back to his native country of Guatemala, Dr. López’s reunion with his family doesn’t mean his life as a veterinarian will be put on hold. While in Guatemala, the series will follow Dr. López as he must find his courage to do what he loves as a vet and tend to a lion in dire need of his help.
A renowned veterinarian who specializes in internal medicine, Dr. Márquez will take her talents across the borders into Mexico where not only will she visit her family and mentor, but will help save the lives of several pets that are in need of emergency care.
LatinTRENDS recently sat down with Dr. Georgina Márquez for a one-on-one interview about the veterinarian and reality TV star.
LatinTRENDS: What or Who inspired you to pursue a career as a Veterinarian?
Doctor Márquez: I knew I wanted to be a vet from the time I was very young.
My first pet was a guinea pig which I adored. He got sick and my dad and I took him to the vet. From the moment I saw the vet trying to help my defenseless little pet I just knew that was what I had to do for the rest of my life.
I spent years reading about dogs, cats, horses, and watching every show I could find on TV that had animals in it like Lassie, Flipper, etc. I helped every stray animal I found; bringing home lizards, worms, every kind of bug, injured birds, etc.
By the time I turned 10 my dad agreed that I was old enough to get my first dog. She was a 4-month-old standard Poodle. We took her to the vet to get her checked out and once again, it was clear to me that I would be a vet.
The vet was Dr. Carlos Garcia Alcaraz. He became my personal hero. Every time I went to his hospital with my dog, he would teach me what he was doing and he would encourage me to follow my dream. My love for animals inspired me, and Dr. Carlos Garcia Alcaraz and my father encouraged me to pursue the career to be a Veterinarian.
One day I told my dad, “You know dad, I really like math, maybe I should be an engineer?”
He laughed and said “No, you’re going to be a great vet. That is where your heart is!”
LatinTRENDS: How would you describe the traditional, or non-traditional, day-to-day life of a Veterinarian?
Márquez: This is a great question!
I have yet to have a traditional day-to-day in the vet hospital!
I think that is one of the reasons why I love my job so much. Never a dull moment! It is a beautiful life where we get to help animals and help their owners. But overall, we do tend to try to have a schedule to keep things from getting out of control. A veterinarian is very much like a human physician. We get up early, get our personal lives “in order”—you know, go for a run, have coffee, get the kids ready for school, battle traffic, etc.
We usually arrive at the vet hospital at around 8 am to start rounds. After rounds there’s no telling what will happen. We’ll have appointments, emergencies, surgeries etc. We spend much time talking to pet owners. It is fairly typical that we eat on the go. There’s no time for lunch. We eat as we are typing medical records.
Our day ends at around 6pm when the emergency doctors come in. We give them rounds. Tie up loose ends, and head on out the door to see our families. We watch TV, try to keep up on the news, pay bills, etc.
We spend a great deal of time attending continuing education seminars and some of us (specialists) we are actively involved in giving seminars to other vets. Some of us also teach veterinary students, interns, and residents during the day.
Then of course there are the vets who are dedicated to academia, research, and even traveling vets who treat animals at home. They’ll have their own different schedules but all of us try hard to keep a balance between work and personal lives.
LatinTRENDS: What are some of the benefits of working in this particular field?
Márquez: This is an incredibly rewarding field. We get to help those animals in need. We are fortunate that people love their pets and will always take care of them allowing us to do our job.
It is a profession which is fairly stable financially and when the economy gets rough, even though we are definitely affected by it, we are not as badly hit as other sectors. Veterinary jobs are usually available, though, during the tough economy they have decreased.
One of the largest benefits for me is that it allows me to do what I love and still be able to be a mother to my children. It is a profession where schedules can be flexible and there is always the possibility to work during night hours and weekends which has allowed me in the past to be with my children most of the time.
LatinTRENDS: Are there any disadvantages or challenges being a Veterinarian?
Márquez: I can’t think of any disadvantages but there are challenges.
The main one is the financial aspect of patient care. Medical care is expensive no matter if it is for a human or for a pet. It is a very difficult situation to try to figure out care for a pet when the owner’s cannot afford the care but are very attached to their pet. It is heart breaking when owners have to make a decision to euthanize their pet due to financial reasons.
Fortunately, there are pet insurance companies now which are becoming more popular and helping owner’s avoid euthanasia due to financial reasons.
LatinTRENDS: Do you have any animal phobias—like snakes, rats, birds, or anything that may appear frightening—that you have faced? And how have you overcome said phobia?
Márquez: I don’t have any phobias now.
The other day I was in an exam room and there was a spider. My clients pointed it out and I quickly picked him up with my hands and said “I’ll take him right outside!” They were shocked and said, “why did you do that? How do you know it isn’t poisonous, aren’t you scared?” I thought that was funny.
Why did I do that? Because I’m a vet and I help animals.
How did I know it wasn’t poisonous? Well, we only have two types of poisonous spiders in this area and it didn’t look like either one.
I did used to have a phobia of rats. It stemmed from childhood. Living in a big city there were rats around. One day they came into the house. I was very little and I remember all these women running around with brooms chasing the rats screaming and putting me up high on a table so the rats wouldn’t get me! So that made an impression on me! I was able to get over this phobia by learning about rats. While going to vet school I learned how to handle them, and treat them, and learned that they are actually harmless!
LatinTRENDS: What is the one emergency involving an animal that will forever stay with you? Why does it impact you? And what do you take from that encounter?
Márquez: There was one which actually happened in season one, right on camera, it all developed and it was captured by Nat Geo Mundo.
It was a little Pomeranian dog who looked just like one of my own dogs. He had something stuck in his esophagus which had been there for days. This was life threatening as he could not eat or drink anything and was in a great deal of pain. With the help of my team we put him under anesthesia to do endoscopy and try to remove the object which his owners had said was a rawhide. It was impossible to dislodge this via endoscopy (which is taking a camera through the mouth and down the esophagus) and the more I tried to dislodge it the more he would bleed from the esophagus.
I consulted with the surgeon and we decided to take him straight in to surgery to remove the rawhide. During surgery as we dislodged it, his esophagus was so irritated and much of the tissue was necrotic (dead) from this object being in there so long so he began to bleed profusely and no matter all our efforts, we lost him on the table.
We had a team of specialists working on him, all the technology available, and we were powerless to save him. What really got to me was that this was preventable. The object that caused the damage was actually a bone not a rawhide. Before we had put him under anesthesia, I had held him and he was giving me kisses as if he knew we were trying to save him. To me, he might have been a little dog, but he was a life.
Every life is precious, spider, cat, dog, horse, cow, and human. In my eyes, life is precious no matter what.
Why did it impact me and what did I take from that encounter? It was a reminder of how fragile life is and how no matter how much equipment, how many specialists, or even how much money any one has, sometimes, we lose the battle, no matter what we do.
LatinTRENDS: What would you say is the most important trait or skill required to being a veterinarian?
Márquez: I would say as far as traits since they are a reflection of character, the first thing is a deep love and respect for animals and life itself.
Another would be to be able to handle stress. When a life is in one’s hands, there is no room for panic. You have to be able to stay calm and manage the situation. You must be a good leader as the veterinarian is always the leader of a hospital.
The last trait would be to have the conviction. Conviction that this is what you want to do and be willing to give it 110%, always. Have commitment and dedication. The skills which are necessary are learned in vet school and through the specialty levels post vet school.
LatinTRENDS: Doctor Vet Los Angeles is currently in its second season, what can we expect to see this season that viewers did not see during the first season?
Márquez: There are many more interesting cases that we attend to.
There is also more about our personal lives and how we became veterinarians. On this season of Doctor Vet Los Angeles, we get the opportunity to travel back to our countries of origin and visit with our colleagues, friends, and families and help those in need. There is more educational material for pet owner’s on the types of procedures we do and why we do them.
And certainly, much human emotion associated with the well-being of animals.
LatinTRENDS: What would be the one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to become a veterinarian?
Márquez: Do it! It’s the most noble profession. Do not let anyone discourage you. Especially to our youth, you can do anything you want to do, and if anyone tells you can’t, you tell them back: “You just sit back and enjoy the ride as you watch me do it and follow my dream!”
Such strong and influential words from Doctor Márquez. To catch Dr. Márquez and the other doctors’ stories as they give it their all to ensure that any animal they care for live healthy live check out Doctor Vet Los Angeles on Sundays at 9pm, only on Nat Geo Mundo