As a veterinarian, my passion for understanding and caring for animals extends far beyond the confines of land. The idea of exploring the mysterious world beneath the waves has always intrigued me, but leaky masks and inability to see without glasses dampened my desire to scuba dive. I did do a discovery dive a few years ago in the Cayman Islands, but it was not until I was talking with Dr. Anderson (the doctor who set me up to go to Saipan to spay and neuter dogs) that I realized my problem with masks was a fit problem not a universal problem. That meant I could enjoy diving!

In the past week, I have embarked on the journey to become PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) scuba certified. It will be a perfect merger of my love for animals with my thirst for adventure.

Becoming PADI certified isn’t just about strapping on a tank and diving into the ocean. It’s a meticulous process that involves acquiring a solid foundation of knowledge and honing essential skills, much like diagnosing and treating animals in my veterinary practice.

My journey begins with an online course into the theoretical aspects of diving. It was a four-day process to get into the online class due to a technical glitch. The online modules are required before I suit up and cover the principles of diving physics, physiology, equipment operation, safety protocols, and environmental conservation. It will be like studying the intricate biology of animals, but with a focus on the underwater world. If only I can find the 10 to 15 hours it requires to complete it. (There is always the 30-hour travel time.)

Next up will be the confined water training. Often this is a pool, but mine will be in an ocean cove. In the controlled environment, I will practice essential skills under the watchful eye of a certified instructor. From mastering buoyancy control to clearing my mask underwater, each skill will test my confidence and competence, much like perfecting clinical techniques in veterinary school. I am NOT looking forward to clea…

Next up is the Open Water Dives. Sydney, my instructor (recommended by Dr. Anderson), wants me to go in the open water on the same day that I do the confined water. Either he thinks I am a flight risk or will forget everything I know. Guided by my instructor, we will explore underwater tropical landscapes teeming with marine life, applying my newfound skills in real-world diving scenarios. I am looking forward to this thrilling experience that demands keen observation, adaptability, and respect for the marine environment – qualities that resonate with my approach to veterinary medicine. Of course, it also brings a tad of fear.

Although the class can be done in two back-to-back days, Sydney suggested (strongly) that we dive all day Sunday and then Tuesday afternoon and another afternoon.

Successful completion of the course requirements will grant me the prestigious PADI Open Water Diver certification. I know it is something many people do, but a slight fear of water means that passing this course will bring a moment of immense pride, marking the beginning of my journey as a certified diver and opening doors to a world of endless exploration beneath the waves.

Becoming PADI scuba certified as a veterinarian isn’t just about acquiring a new skill – it’s about embracing a mindset of curiosity, exploration, and respect for the natural world. Through a rigorous training process that mirrors the dedication required in veterinary medicine, I’ve unlocked the gateway to a realm of unparalleled beauty and wonder. Whether I’m swimming alongside majestic marine creatures or marveling at the vibrant colors of coral reefs, my journey as a PADI diver will enrich my perspective as both a veterinarian and an adventurer, reminding me of the interconnectedness of all life on our planet. And it might mean that I have to head back to Saipan to help more animals.