Gator Vet Tails | February 2024

Small Animal Veterinary Surgeon

Dr. Alec Sherman

ACCESS Specialty Hospital | Palm Beach, FL

Sherman GVT

As the veterinary community knows, relationship-building is equally as important as knowledge base. Dr. Sherman puts this practice into place every day by strengthening the veterinarian-client bond, as well as leaning on mentors for professional advice and input. When Dr. Sherman is not scrubbed in for surgery, he can be found suited up for scuba diving, or doing just about any outdoor water activity with his wife and fur children! Dr. Sherman received excellent advice and mentorship throughout his career and shares great insight in this month’s feature!

What advice do you have for upcoming/new graduates just starting their careers?

Find a place that fits your values. When looking for a job, ask yourself, is this a place you can spend 4-5 days a week working? Are the people happy? Are you satisfied with the quality of medicine being performed? Find a place that is going to support you as a doctor and a person.

What insight do you have for current DVM students (in one sentence)?

The veterinary community is a small world and sometimes making a good impression on a veterinarian you only met once can have profound effects on the rest of your life. While on an externship, I met a previous Gator veterinary alumnus. I didn’t think anything of it until I matched at that hospital for my rotating internship. Once starting, we reconnected, and I soon realized that relationship and his personal knowledge of me was a factor in me obtaining that internship. To this day, he is a mentor and great friend.

How did UF CVM prepare you to embark into “the real world” and start your DVM career?

Throughout my training to be a surgeon, I have worked at multiple academic institutions, and I can honestly say that UF CVM does an excellent job of training you to be a veterinarian in the real world. It is up to you to take advantage of the opportunities that UF provides; seek out mentors, join clubs, go to additional lectures, and participate in labs.

Is there anything in the veterinary field you would like to see change?

For a lot of veterinary students, pursuing internship training is limited by finances. I think this problem is multi-factorial by both the amount of debt veterinary students have after graduating as well as the below-average salaries that internships offer. I think that while you can certainly practice high-quality medicine without an internship, and many do, internships provide an invaluable amount of experience in managing challenging cases. I would love to see veterinary internships become more commonplace even if the goal is not to specialize or practice emergency medicine. However, I completely understand the reasoning and factors for why it is not. Internship salaries need to be more competitive.

What do you enjoy most about your current position?

I truly love what I do. After spending the last 3 years training at an academic institution, I wanted to continue to work at a hospital that practices the highest quality of medicine. Fortunately, I found ACCESS where I have the support of the management team to practice surgery at the highest level.

What is the best advice you have received during your career so far?

If your decision is based on what is best for the patient, you make the correct decision 95% of the time. We are in a profession of helping patients and that must come first. Ego, teaching, cost savings, time of day, convenience, upsetting someone, not communicating clearly due to it being uncomfortable, come second. However, there are times we must include the above list in our decision making but the patient always comes first.

Also “I like big bandages and I cannot lie” – Karl Kraus

What is the hardest part of working in the veterinary medicine field and how have you overcome this challenge?

Right now, it may seem like the medicine is the hardest part of being a veterinarian but truly that’s the easy part. Medicine is an open-book test and if you need additional information, there are always resources available that you can access whether that be textbooks, primary literature, or mentors. The hardest part of veterinary medicine is managing clients in high-stress situations. We have a hard but rewarding job. Unfortunately, practicing medicine is not an exact science, and in medicine, things don’t always go perfectly even if you do everything right. Clients do not always understand this and sometimes despite your best efforts, they blame you for the poor outcome with their pet. I can’t overstate how important it is to not take things personally. People are not always going to be nice and that is okay. 

How do you practice work-life balance?

I am happily married to a veterinarian, and it would be very easy to go home and talk about cases all night. To me this is a recipe on how to burn out. We try to keep work at work. We do this by trying our best to finish all records in the office and leave home time for relaxing with our dogs. 

Do you have any career goals you are currently pursuing?

My wife and I recently started a non-profit assisting pet owners facing tough decisions due to financial limitations. This was inspired by a beautiful 2-year-old Yellow Lab who presented with a life-threatening obstruction in his small intestine caused by eating a sock. After not responding to medical management, his owners could not afford the surgery to remove the sock. They elected euthanasia. My wife and I decided to take over his care and after surgery and 5 days of intensive treatment in the hospital, he was ready to come home. His recovery was smooth, and he remains a healthy boy to this day 3 years later. His name is now Bodhi, and he has been a part of our family ever since. This was neither the first nor the last time we have been faced with such a situation. We founded Holly and Ava’s Pet-Saving Initiative (HAPI) to assist pet owners who face difficult financial decisions with the hopes that we can make a difference in the lives of as many pets and pet owners as possible. If interested in more details or would like to support our initiative, you can visit for more details.

What does mentorship look like for you at this point in your career?

I feel very fortunate to have had mentors who have trained me to this point. Mentorship to me now is being able to send a text about a challenging case or complication and receive non-judgmental advice.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? 

I love to spend time outside whether that be paddle boarding, kayaking, scuba diving, running, or hiking. If I can involve the dogs in the activity, it’s bonus points. 

How many and what type of pets do you have?

We have 3 dogs that were rescued for various reasons; Daffodil, a “Golden Retriever” who was in the meat trade in China, Bodhi, a Yellow Lab who loves socks just a little too much and was going to be euthanized for his bad habit prior to rescue and Manuka, a Yellow Lab who would have made a great guide dog if he didn’t have terrible allergies. And if I know my wife, chances are by the time this is published we will have probably added a new canine family member.