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Dr. Marcy McKeithen breaking barriers as a female veterinarian clinic owner in metro Detroit

Posted at 7:14 PM, Mar 26, 2024

TROY, Mich. (WXYZ) — All month long, we have highlighted the amazing accomplishments of female trailblazers in their fields.

We want to highlight the work of another. Dr. Marcy McKeithen is one of several female African American veterinarians in metro Detroit, and it has been quite the journey.

If you venture into the PetSmart located on Big Beaver Road in Troy, not only will you enter a store with every need imaginable for your beloved furry family member, you will be greeted by the owner of the brand-new PetSmart Veterinarian Services in the back of the store.

McKeithen had her grand opening in December.

Raised in Detroit and a product of Detroit Public Schools, McKeithen was brilliant in the books, but veterinary school was not on her radar because being an engineer was the family path.

“I didn’t know how hard it was to get in vet school until I got in,” McKeithen said. “I was kind of force-fed engineering because we’re a Ford family. Ford brought us from down south.”

Unable to have pets in her home growing up as a child, it was through mentorship that McKeithen decided vet school, which can be tougher to get accepted into than medical school. It was a challenge she would face head on.

“Animal science, that sounds good,” McKeithen said.

About 2.6% of the nation's veterinarians are Black, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report in 2020. McKeithen makes sure to help and inspire anyone she can when it comes to the veterinary industry.

There are over 49,434 veterinarians currently employed in the United States, and 62.9% of all veterinarians are women, while 37.1% are men.

In the modern-era work, life balance matters. As a mother of two young boys, working around the clock and being on call 24/7 for her furry clients is nearly impossible, so scheduling surgeries, teeth extractions, lab work and more is worked into a 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily shift.

“Not only is the demographic of the profession changing, but the needs of the work-life balance, the hours, the accessibility of the field are changing as well,” McKeithen said.

After 14 years, McKeithen is at the top of her game and credits her mom for being her role model.

“My mom has persevered through a lot of things,” McKeithen said. “She went to get her master's degree in her 50s and started her new dream profession.”

McKeithen also thanks her partner Vernard Hodges, who hosts "Critter Fixers" on the National Geographic channel, for giving her the courage to take the plunge into ownership.

“He has really, really helped me out and he has helped so many other Black women open practices. He’s been so important in getting us into the ownership role,” McKeithen said.

McKeithen has this bit of advice for others: If it were easy, everybody would be doing it. So, don't be afraid to be the first one, regardless of your circumstances.

**Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that there are two African American veterinarians in metro Detroit. We have since corrected the story and regret the error.