PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — If you have a furry friend, you may have noticed that getting in to see a veterinarian has gotten harder — because there simply aren’t enough of them at the moment.

Banfield Pet Hospital, founded in Portland with its headquarters in Vancouver, is hoping to remedy this issue through its NextVet program.

Thomas Cha is learning all the ins and outs of becoming a veterinarian. He was chosen out of a large field of applicants to be a NextVet intern for the summer.

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a little kid. So, if you give me this opportunity, I will take it seriously,” Cha said in his video submission for the internship program, which shows him taking care of and training his grandparents’ dog.

Banfield vet Andrea Sanchez says the recent Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School grad’s training skills stood out.

“Just a remarkable amount of initiative and showing that real amount of intentionality and interest in the profession, which is so above and beyond,” Sanchez said.

Cha says he’s been learning so much through the program.

“[I’ve] been learning how to draw up vaccines, how to hold dogs while they’re getting blood drawn or they’re getting vaccines,” he said.

This is the first year of the NextVet program, with 15 total interns in eight cities across the United States.

Sanchez says Banfield is trying to get ahead of the vet shortage, knowing that students like Cha have years of schooling before they get their veterinarian license.

“We need to not just be thinking about right now and next month, how are we going to be bridging that gap, but three years from now, five years from now, 10 years from now — how are we going to have the profession that has the right ratio and number of care providers,” Sanchez stated.

Cha heads off to Washington State University soon, but he’s hoping to spend his future summers here at Banfield.

“It’s just been a great experience so far and hopefully over the years I can come back here and come work at Banfield,” he said.

To learn more about the NextVet program, visit this website.