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The Roles of Veterinarians

What made you passionate about veterinary medicine?  What made you want to become a veterinarian?  For most of us, our love of the profession probably started with our encounters with our hometown veterinarians - the first time you brought your new puppy or kitten in for its first physical exam, talking with the vet that came to float your horses' teeth or help with your cattle, or working in high school or college as a kennel caretaker or vet tech.

But a veterinarian is more than an animal doctor.  In towns all across Texas, veterinarians play a critical role in the community as public health officers, leaders, animal welfare advocates, emergency response officials, and more.  At A&M, we're trained not only in diagnosing and treating disease in our patients, but also in public health, zoonotic disease, business development, and disaster planning.  Did you know that your average veterinarian has probably received more training in recognizing human parasites (lice, mites, tapeworms, protozoa, etc.) than your average human doctor?

Yesterday, February 1st, was Texas Veterinary Legislative Day, in which our state government recognized the all the contributions that veterinarians and veterinary medicine have made to our economy, public health, and communities.  It was scheduled to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the founding of veterinary medicine, and the designation of 2011 as the "Year of the Veterinarian".  More importantly, though, we took another step forward in addressing the issues of the future - things like zoonosis, the ever-pressing need for rural veterinarians, animal welfare, and the University's own needs to expand and renovate its teaching facilities to serve the next generation of students.

So what does all that mean for you?  If you're reading this as a future veterinarian, remember the possibilities within your chosen profession are endless. Veterinarians are needed on the front lines of the community, but you can also work in research, biotechnology, public health, emergency disaster relief, international aid, and more.  If you're reading this as an interested member of the public, take time to talk to your vet about the widespread impact of veterinary medicine in the world today.  And if you're a currently practicing veterinarian, thanks for the leadership and dedication you've shown our profession.  I can't wait to be called your colleague.