Finalist Profile

Dr. Natalie Marks

Clinic: Blum Animal Hospital
College: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Location: Chicago, IL
Why I became a veterinarian:

I grew up in a small town (Sterling) in northwestern Illinois with a best friend who lived on a horse ranch. My days after school and weekends were spent with these horses, (a goat and a few dogs), who became part of my family. From the first moment I watched an equine veterinarian treat laminitis on one of these beautiful creatures, I knew I had found my career. I volunteered at a local small animal veterinary clinic through high school and then happily accepted a place into the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in the Animal Sciences/pre-veterinary program. During my undergraduate program, I was awarded a Johnathan Baldwin Turner research grant, which allowed me to work with many veterinary school faculty. I continued to volunteer and speak with mentors, who helped me sort through questions, concerns and different career options. I applied to the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in my senior year and began veterinary school a year later. Even though I consider myself a practicing small animal veterinarian, I will always have a special place in my heart for the large animal world.

Why I am passionate about veterinary medicine:

There are many aspects of veterinary medicine that inspire me on a daily basis and drive my passion to help pets and people. I am a firm believer in the One Health Initiative, which attempts to bridge the gap between human and veterinary medicine through education, communication and outreach. I have always been fascinated by zoonotic disease, and this recent program has me very excited about how these two once very separate worlds of medicine may merge on certain concepts in the future. I am continually amazed at the power of the human-animal bond. I think a common misconception is that becoming a veterinarian allows a person to work solely with animals, not humans. However, I find my practice to be just the opposite. I treasure my clients’ stories about how docile their aging Golden retriever was as their toddler clumsily learned to walk, how a shy, rescued domestic short hair helped a client overcome depression and how a little Yorkshire terrier named Fred saved an owner’s life in more ways than one. This last example refers to a new charity I support and have done media interviews about named “Fred Says”. The namesake is one of my patients who is owned by a wonderful physician. After a diagnosis of cancer and HIV, Fred’s owner did not feel he could continue in life, but found strength and purpose through the human animal bond. I am excited to continue this relationship and watch them work to help other people dealing with chronic illness benefit from the unconditional love of a pet. I am intellectually drawn to complex internal medicine and surgical cases. I enjoy the detective work involved, the development of treatment plans, and most importantly, watching the patient improve and the client relish in a happier and healthier family member. Additionally, I find working with my cancer patients very challenging but very rewarding. I have taken ongoing continuing education in chemotherapy and have administered many protocols

Why I was nominated to be America’s Favorite Veterinarian:

"Dr. Marks is everything a perfect vet should be - she is compassionate, understanding, and very knowledgeable. She treats your pets with love and care. She thoroughly explains to you any medical issues and when things are tough, she is there with you every step of the way -- I know, she has been with me through a number of serious health issues with my pets. She makes herself available as much as humanly possible, even her off time if needed. As an example, she was on maternity leave when I discovered a malignant tumor on my senior cat Tiger and she called me that same day from home with her children to walk me through the diagnoses. A more caring, dedicated vet you will never meet and I am so very glad she's mine. I feel she deserves any and all recognition she can receive because she goes beyond the call of duty with grace and care. I highly recommend Dr. Marks to be America's Favorite Veterinarian -- she is absolutely wonderful!" -- Arleen

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