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Dr. Audrey Cook, BVM&S, MRCVS,
DECVIM-CA, DACVIM (Small Animal Internal Medicine)[Read Interview]
1. What inspired you to become a veterinary
I always felt that I'd rather know a lot about a little than a
little about a lot. Also, the teachers I had in vet school and
during my internship were very inspirational.
2. What was the best academic/professional
advice you ever received?
That's a hard one…. I guess I'd have to include the
"If you hear hoof beats, it's probably a horse not a zebra"
"Common things occur commonly"
"There's no such thing as an idiopathic disease"
3. What was your most memorable experience
as a veterinary student, intern, or resident?
I will never forget my first case as a veterinarian… Her name
was "Babe" and she was a pointer with nasal fibrosarcoma. We missed
the diagnosis initially and subjected her to a miserable and
aggressive treatment for fungal rhinitis. I cried the day we got
the true answer.
I will also never forget being made to go through the biohazard
waste in surgery prep when I was an intern, looking for a piece of
stomach tissue which the surgical resident wanted submitted to the
path lab but which had somehow got lost. It was a Friday evening
and I just wanted to go home. All the stinky and bloody surgical
waste had been dumped in to a huge garbage container and I had to
sort through the whole thing. I never found the stomach...
4. What would you advise a student
interested in pursuing specialty Board certification?
Several points come to mind:
a. Grades matter, and it's hard to make up for a slow start in vet
school. So, pay attention and work hard from the outset as it's
almost impossible to overcome mediocre grades from the first few
b. Get to know your clinical teachers as early as possible, as
they are the ones who write your recommendations. Ask questions
after class, participate fully in any interactions, show that you
5. What part of your work do you enjoy
most? What part would you consider the most challenging?
I enjoy teaching small groups of students. Morning rounds can be
the best part of my day, especially if someone clearly gets
something they never quite understood before, or begins to think
like a doctor.
The most challenging is dealing with a group with very mixed
interests and abilities. It is hard to engage every one if the
group is disparate.
6. What kind of pet(s) do you
I have a DSH cat - 12 years, female (s), absolutely gorgeous,
I have a black mouth cur (sort of) - 2 years, male (n), absolutely
fabulous, called Texas
7. What activities do you enjoy most in
your spare time or while on vacation?
I like to sew, work in the garden, exercise (walk, ride my bike,
play bad tennis) and cook.
8. What makes a good
A good veterinarian is smart and able to think on his/her feet.
A great veterinarian combines those smarts with kindness to people
and a true love of animals.
Dr. Tracy Norman, DVM, DACVIM (Large
Animal Internal Medicine)[Read
During my internship (before which, I was determined to go into
surgery or radiology) I found it very rewarding to work on really
sick animals. Not only was it gratifying to have our efforts
benefit sick horses, but the study of the diseases proved to be
fascinating. Ultimately, it was the kind of work that led me to
become a veterinarian in the first place.
The animal always holds the key to his own health or disease.
Lab work and other diagnostics are a great help, but nothing yields
as much information as a really good physical examination. (This
came from a variety of sources, including Drs. Keith Chaffin, Alan
Roussel, and Jill Beech)
Early in my residency (here at A&M), a local equestrian
center had a barn fire. Most of the horses were lost outright, but
we treated 6 of them for burn injuries. Several of the horses were
owned by veterinary students. I will never forget those brave
horses or their owners.
Make sure that you are doing it for your own interest and
satisfaction. There are really no financial incentives for boarded
folks (especially in my field: Equine).
I really enjoy the sleuthing that leads to a diagnosis, and of
course, it is really rewarding to know that an animal's life is
better (and longer!) because of our efforts. The most challenging
part of the job for me is dealing with demanding or difficult
clients. I really like to make people happy, so it is discouraging
when folks are difficult or irrational.
One cat; embarrassingly, she is obese.
I enjoy yoga, horseback riding, skiing, and hiking. Also, I'm a
real movie buff.
A good veterinarian is a person who can be intellectual and
practical, compassionate and reserved, thorough and efficient. A
good veterinarian can balance what's best for a patient with what's
best for the owner. A good veterinarian can keep his or her head
and be steady in a crisis. A good veterinarian is not only an
"animal person" but also a "people person"; communication skills
are just as important as most of what we learn in veterinary
school. A good veterinarian is a highly principled person,
upholding the ethics of our profession.
Dr. Kenita Rogers, DVM, DACVIM
(Small Animal Internal Medicine, Oncology)[Read Interview]
I entered my internship at UGA quite sure that I wanted to be a
surgeon, but I met a fantastic mentor there (Dr. Jeanne Barsanti)
who happened to be a small animal internist. She got me really
excited about that specialty and I then applied for an internal
medicine residency and matched to the program at TAMU. While doing
this residency, I found that my favorite patients and clients were
the oncology cases and got really inspired by Dr. Barton to try to
become a good cytologist. After passing internal medicine boards
through ACVIM, I took the oncology boards and remained at TAMU as a
If someone asks you to do a job… even if you don't want to, even
if it seems like it will take too much time, even if it isn't
exactly in your area of expertise… try to say yes if at all
possible. You really can't predict what you might learn, who you
might meet, or what contacts you might make simply because you were
doing a good job at the right place and the right time.
There are many, but I think my favorite experience was being
given the opportunity to work in a private practice in rural
England for a summer between my second and third year of veterinary
school and then backpacking alone through Europe.
As a student or as an intern, take every opportunity to step up
to the plate and accept the most difficult cases and clients. You
will learn so much more by being in challenging situations than by
taking the easy road. Students and interns that are able to handle
stress and still keep a smile on their face really get noticed.
As an oncologist, my favorite scenarios are cases where the
students are very involved and we are able to diagnose the problem
and work closely with the owner on a plan that everyone feels good
about. I love a fabulously cool cytology slide and the fact that no
matter how long I have been doing this, there are still things that
I haven't seen before and can learn from. It is also unbelievably
invigorating to work in an academic environment and be surrounded
by expert colleagues that are great teachers and clinicians. The
most challenging part for me is losing a pet when we have grown
close to both the animal and the clients; they often consider us a
part of the family and it sometimes feels like we let them down by
running out of options.
I have a golden retriever named Hank from a rescue
I love anything related to the beach, reading for pleasure, and
I just started kayaking.
I think that a great veterinarian is able to combine a series of
traits including integrity, compassion, collegiality, intellectual
curiosity, and a few leadership skills. To stay a great
veterinarian, you must find something to be really passionate about
and pursue that passion; it can be an aspect of your work, a hobby,
participating in something in the community, etc.
Dr. Allen Roussel, DVM, MS, DACVIM
(Large Animal Internal Medicine)[Read
I was frustrated seeing conditions over and over and not fully
understanding them. I also wanted to teach. I went back to school
after 5 years of practice to teach and do research, and there I
learned what a specialist was. By the way, now I see even more
cases that I don't fully understand.
I believe I was "mentored" more than "advised." I watched a lot
of successful people and learned from them. I can't really choose a
"best"piece of advice from a career standpoint. From a
board-certification perspective, I think it was regarding passing
ACVIM boards. Several people told me to study but not to panic.
They said to relax, do your best and be calm. I did it and I
I was a city boy. I wanted to be a cow doctor, but I had doubts.
I asked 2 different professors if they thought a city boy could do
it. They both said "yes" and told me of success stories they had
witnessed. I don't know if they really believed it, but I did!
Don't make up your mind too early. One step at a time. Get a
DVM, practice or do an internship and follow your dreams. Your
desires may change. Keep your eyes and options open. You can do
about anything you commit to.
At the beginning it was the cool cases. Then teaching got to be
fun and research was stimulating. Now I like mentoring students,
house officers and younger colleagues. Teaching has remained fun
and challenging. Choosing which of the many opportunities to pursue
is the greatest challenge.
3 cats. I love cats.
OK, I love France. I love reading about it and going there. I
enjoy studying French. And now I have a spare-time job guiding
tours there. Know any potential clients?
A good person. You have to like people and want to help them.
You have to be concerned about your client and their animal(s) or
production operation. That means caring enough to make sure you
know or find out what to do to help.
Dr. Jörg Steiner, DMV, PhD, DECVIM-CA,
DACVIM (Small Animal Internal Medicine)[Read Interview]
The daily challenge of cases that don't follow the book.
Research is fun and easy!
The first day as an intern on overnight service - the shock of
being a vet and having to make decisions all of a sudden.
Get involved - there are many opportunities to do so while you
are in vet school.
Seeing a patient walk out the door that came in on a stretcher.
Finding research results that will help many patients.
travel, architectural design, home remodeling, model trains
Logical thinking and an open mind.
Dr. Michael Willard, DVM, DACVIM
(Small Animal Internal Medicine)[Read
My mentor during my internship.
The job is there to support your family. Don't get it turned
Working with a musher whose sled dog was bleeding out due to a
Be sure it is what you want. Everything comes as a package, and
becoming a specialist has its costs as well as its rewards. Ask
yourself if you are doing this for yourself or for your clients and
Teaching is by far the most challenging and rewarding part.
Traveling with my spouse. Working on our farm.
Lots of things. One thing is being focused on helping your
clients more than helping yourself.
Dr. Heather Wilson, DVM, DACVIM
I had a 4th year rotation in oncology that I loved so much I
decided I wanted to do it for the rest of my career. I had two very
good instructors that supported me and coached me to do an
internship and residency. These two professors made a huge
difference in my life and I credit them with helping me to become
the person I am today.
Be nice to your technicians. They will take amazing care of you
if you take good care of them.
As a veterinary student I was able to work with Pat Head-Summit
and her dog that had been attacked by a wild animal (likely a
raccoon) in her yard. She brought in 3 of her players with her and,
though I have never felt so short in my life, it was one of the
coolest memories I have of vet school. She was very nice, down to
earth and pretty tolerant of the fact that I was star-struck in the
Work harder than your classmates. If you put in more effort, it
will be noticed. When applying for internships and residencies
everyone looks pretty good on paper, what sets them apart is their
letters. The better your letters are, the better your chances
I love the variety in my job. I love to be on clinics but I also
love research and teaching. My job is a combination of all of these
elements. I get to do everything I like everyday.
The most challenging part is likely dealing with emotional
owners during difficult times. It is hard to know what to say in a
difficult situation. Grant writing is a close second, though.
I have 2 cats (a Siamese and a Persian), 1 mixed breed dog and
about 50 fish that breed incessantly (if anyone wants Cichlids,
please let me know!).
Camping, hiking, reading for fun
Compassion and thoughtfulness. A person who takes the time to
think about how their owners, colleagues and patients are feeling
is key. It is also important to take the time and think about what
you are doing. The day can get rushed, but you must always take
time to stop and think about a challenging case or you may miss the
forest for the trees
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