Practitioner Updates

Faculty Spotlight: Joanna Schmit, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Oncology)

Dr. Joanna Schmit is a lecturer in medical oncology.

Tell us your about background.

I am a Minnesota native and love being outdoors and on the water. The many lakes of Minnesota are my favorite place to be.

I started my veterinary career as an oncology technician in Arizona and quickly decided that cancer was for me! After earning a veterinary degree from the University of Minnesota, I completed a rotating internship, specialty internship, and residency at the University of Illinois. Now after 10 years in practice, I am excited to be back at the U of I to help prepare students and residents for their future careers. 

What drew you to oncology? 

Forming bonds with oncology clients and pets is what drew me to medical oncology. I deeply enjoy supporting families as they deal with a difficult diagnosis and giving them the knowledge and power to gain some control over their situation. Many clients become friends, and we miss them when their pets are no longer under our care. 

Tell us about a favorite case of yours.  

There are so many favorite cases over the years. A few stand out from my 5 years as an intern and resident at Illinois.  

Misha was a lovely black German shepherd dog that was a long-term oncology patient. She received radiation and chemotherapy and developed a fully white face after radiation. She was striking to see trotting into the hospital. She and her mom became favorites of the department.  

Another was a Shih Tzu named Bear whose family pursued extensive therapy (both chemotherapy and surgery). He outlived all expectations and had a great life. His family was so lovely and a great example of what can be done for cancer patients.  

A case that always brings a happy memory is Daisy Mae, a golden retriever with lymphoma. She wore a different costume every time she came into the hospital. Tutus were her costume of choice. I have also provided care to a seal lion in the Galapagos, given chemo to a pet chicken, and treated a mountain lion.

What are your special interests? 

I love to be outdoors and traveling. I volunteer with Animal Balance, a spay/ neuter program that serves island nations and parts of the U.S. This has taken me to places like Samoa, the Galapagos Islands, and Cabo Verde, to name a few.  

I love to kayak, fish, scuba dive, or read on the water. I love live performances of all kinds and attend as many concerts as possible. Live crowds have incredible energy. 

If I can combine travel and concerts, I will. The most memorable was Runrig’s (the Scottish equivalent to the band Journey) final concert at the base of Sterling Castle in Scotland.