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story.lead_photo.caption Linda Patton poses with a patient at her veterinary practice, Westside Veterinary Clinic. Photo by Shelby Kardell / News Tribune.

Dr. Linda Patton, owner and veterinarian at Jefferson City's Westside Veterinarian Clinic, has stayed with the clinic for more than 25 years and uses her experience to help different animals.

Patton first became interested in becoming a veterinarian when she helped her aunt Jeanette Myer on a farm in Iowa during the summers. Since she was around a variety of animals, she said, she developed a love for animals.

"Like every little girl, I thought, 'Oh, I'm going to be an actress, and that'll be so cool,' but as I got further along in school, the sciences were very interesting to me. And growing up, we spent time in the summers helping my aunt milk cows and help chickens and cattle and pigs," she said while petting a white and orange cat named Jack. "So I think that was probably the biggest influence on me, and I think God laid that on my heart to do both the sciences and serve pets and become a veterinarian. It's a very satisfying career."

Patton starting working at Westside Veterinarian Clinic 26 years ago after she graduated from veterinarian school at the University of Missouri. She worked under her mentor, Dr. Lynn Shively, who started the clinic in the 1980s. Patton purchased the clinic from Shively in 2013.

She sees cats, dogs, birds, rabbits and other animals at the clinic. Since every pet is different, it makes the days more interesting.

"It's a pretty exciting job, and not every day is the same," Patton said. "There's a lot of variety with it, so it's pretty rewarding. Not only do you get to help the pets, but you also get to help the people — because the pets are a big part of their lives; they're just like family."

Q. Who has invested in you and your career?

A. "I would say my aunt Jeanette and my mentor and friend Dr. Lynn Shively. My aunt gave me the hard-working ethic, helping animals on the farm and doing all the things that you do on the farm, so in that sense, she made that investment in me and instilled that work ethic and behavior in me. Dr. Shively was an amazing mentor, helping me learn things beyond things that you can learn in school that you don't get until your feet are on the ground. She was an absolutely phenomenal woman and mentor. God put us together for a reason, and it was just a blessing all the way around."

Q. What choices have you made to invest in yourself and your own success?

A. "The choice to stay here in Jefferson City is one of the most important choices I've made in my life because I really felt called here, where God could use me the most. I've had opportunities where I've thought, 'Well, maybe we need to move,' but it just kept coming back to in my heart, and in my husband's heart, that 'No, this is the right place. This is our home and where God wants us to be.' I think following that lead allowed me to help a lot of pets and people here in Jefferson City."

Q. Of what professional achievement are you most proud?

A. "One of the things I've done as a veterinarian that I'm proud of is in veterinarian school (at University of Missouri), we had a raptor rehabilitation project, and the veterinarian students got to help injured birds of prey. And being able to release them back to the wild so that they can get on with being a wild creature, that was very rewarding. That was an achievement because they're just incredibly powerful creatures, yet you're able to manage them with physical therapy and get them back to the wild."

Q. What do you see as the biggest issues facing women in the workplace?

A. "That's tough for me to say because I came out of school working for a woman, so I didn't experience any of the gender bias or discrimination or any of those things that you hear from women in the workplace. From my perspective, as a veterinarian, the number of women who are becoming veterinarians is outweighing men in veterinarian medicine."

Q. What advice would you give a woman entering the workforce?

A. "I think working hard and (to) be very focused on what it is you're trying to achieve in your career. In your job, whether it's being a veterinarian or flipping burgers, do the very best you can. When you shine as an employee, people notice you and they will give you more responsibility and allow you to advance as far as you want to go. So focus and drive are really important."

Q. What drives you most in life and in your career?

"My biggest drive is serving the Lord to my utmost, whether it's through veterinary medicine and taking care of pets and people who come through the door here or helping people out in the community. I also want to do my absolute best for my patients because that way I can be glorifying God through my life because I'm doing my best with the gifts he has given me."

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