While many Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) students were not Aggies before they were admitted to veterinary school, they fully embrace the Aggie Core Values as they step into the Veterinary & Biomedical Education Complex (VBEC) to begin the next step in their educational journeys.
A select few go on to demonstrate their commitment to selfless service by stepping up as leaders, using their time as students to improve their school and the veterinary community as a whole.
Anna Marie Pratas, a Lubbock native who earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin, is one of those students.
Emerging as a leader who was willing to go above and beyond for the causes she cares about, Pratas became president of the Texas A&M chapter of the Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA).
“I think that students have a lot of passion to give,” Pratas said. “SAVMA was a great way to direct that passion into something that could make a difference.”
During her time as president, Pratas worked with her peers to better her school and community. This involved organizing town halls with CVM associate dean for professional programs Dr. Karen Cornell, coordinating a president’s council to bring together all CVM student organization leaders in a forum, and helping victims of domestic violence and their pets. She also represented Texas A&M on a local and national level through SAVMA.
As a leader, Pratas notes that she must often find a way to take chaos and organize it into something functional. Those kinds of skills will carry into her career in emergency medicine, a specialty that requires the veterinarian to remain calm and level-headed in chaotic environments.
“In emergency medicine, you’re not just necessarily narrowed down to a certain specialty,” Pratas said. “You get to do everything: cardiology one minute, and then gastrointestinal medicine the next minute, and neurology the next. Emergency medicine is exactly that, but oftentimes in life or death situations.”
Emergency medicine, she says, is a good fit because she is drawn to environments in which she must be highly adaptable, a trait that also can be beneficial in leadership.
“I love not knowing what’s coming in the door next,” she said. “I feel that in stressful situations, I’m the one to take a breath and see the big picture. That’s where I thrive.”
Emergency medicine also employs the strong communication skills Pratas has developed through her time serving in leadership positions.
“As an emergency veterinarian, the client communication aspect is really unique, because you’re interacting with someone you’ve never met before,” Pratas said. “It is potentially one of the most stressful days the owner has ever had and you’re having to gain their trust in a very short period of time. It’s really challenging, but it also opens a lot of doors for really good client relationships.”
Though graduation will change the role she serves within the community, Pratas believes that her tendency to step out from the crowd will remain.
She puts it best when she explains that veterinarians, by nature, are figures of authority.
“I feel like as a veterinarian, whatever environment I’m in, I will be a leader in that environment,” she said.
After graduation, Pratas hopes to pursue an internship with a private practice working in emergency medicine. Private practice programs often receive a larger caseload than academic institutions and, true to her nature, Pratas wants to see it all.
Even outside of veterinary medicine, Pratas believes that the lessons she has learned as a leader will enhance her life and interactions with others.
“On a day-to-day basis, anyone could take that leadership role of pumping other people up, encouraging others, and being there for them whenever they need you. I hope that’s something I’ll be able to embrace once I’m out in the world doing my thing.”
Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2020 edition of CVM Today.
Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; email@example.com; 979-862-4216