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Ryan McCracken photo
Ryan McCracken photo
Dr. Craig Hellquist (fourth from left), seen here standing alongside his team at the St. Paul Veterinary Clinic, was recently honoured with the title of Veterinarian of the Year by the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association.
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Dr. Craig Hellquist named Veterinarian of the Year

Feb 18, 2014 11:15 am | By Ryan McCracken | St. Paul Journal

Dr. Craig Hellquist, of the St. Paul Veterinary Clinic, was recently honoured with the title of Veterinarian of the Year, by the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association.

Hellquist received his award at a banquet on Feb. 8 in Edmonton, and said it was a very humbling experience to be recognized for his work in veterinary medicine.

“It was very special,” he said. “It was quite an honour and very humbling to receive an award like that.”

St. Paul Veterinary Clinic Animal Health Technologist Angie Lock came up with the idea to nominate Hellquist for the award. Lock said she chose to nominate him because he goes out of his way to help the people of St. Paul, whether by healing a sick pet, or mentoring a student.

“I nominated Craig because of his mentorship. Every year he either takes in a vet, tech or practicum student and he mentors them . . . he’s never turned one down, he never turns down a high school work experience student. He’s always willing to have volunteers. We have a wall of fame where he takes a picture of each student and puts it up,” she said, adding he gives back to the community as a coach as well as a mentor.

“He’s a hockey coach too, and you can always find him at our local arenas . . . He’s coaching midget currently, his youngest son plays.”

Hellquist made a point of thanking his staff at the St. Paul Veterinary Clinic, not just for nominating him, but for their continued efforts in providing St. Paul with top notch animal healthcare.

“I have excellent staff. It’s not an individual sport, you definitely have to have support staff. Our philosophy is we all work together on a team, and everybody’s got an important job,” said Hellquist. “You can’t provide the services that we do by yourself, so I’m blessed with having an excellent staff that works hard, and they’ve very good at what they do.”

Hellquist also thanked all those who helped him grow and flourish as a veterinarian, and a person, over the years.

“There are so many people that I learned from through my professional time,” he said, adding a special thank you to his wife, Anita. “My wife deserves a lot of credit because she provides a lot of support and looks after our kids and stuff, too. My wife Anita is a huge reason why I can do what I do.”

Hellquist, a veterinarian of 25 years, has spent 22 years of his career working in St. Paul, and said that practicing in a rural area poses a number of different challenges than working in an urban centre.

“There are definitely different challenges. Being a veterinarian, medicine is so diverse and there are so many different areas you can work in. Working in a rural practice is quite different than the city where you’re dealing strictly with smaller animals. The environment and the clients are quite different,” he said. “Twenty-five years ago when I started working we dealt mainly with large animals, but the trend has been away from large animals, and most of our work is with small animals now. That’s a similar trend in most mixed practices in Alberta.”

Even 25 years into his career, Hellquist said his job continues to be fulfilling and rewarding, and not just in the form of his Veterinarian of the Year plaque.

“There are so many rewarding aspects of the profession and the job,” he said. “Dealing with people, dealing with animals, the challenge of problem solving and practicing medicine, there are so many positive aspects of the profession.”

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