Young People in Ag: Casper native finishing graduate work project on bluetongue virus, heading to CSU for more
Q: What is your background in agriculture, and how did you become interested in becoming a veterinarian?
A: Honestly, being a veterinarian was the last thing that I thought I would end up doing.
At the age of 10, after doctoring a family colt that was attacked by a mountain lion, I declared I would do anything but become a vet.
It is quite the joke now.
Until my junior year of college, I thought about veterinary medicine in a very limited context, in part because I grew up with a veterinarian mother.
In my mind, having a DVM was equivalent to working in or owning a practice, which is not a great fit with my interest in virology and animal disease.
However, as a graduate student I met and worked with DVMs whose careers and experiences expanded my understanding of the opportunities available in veterinary medicine.
Q: How do you see yourself using your veterinarian degree in the future and why?
A: I will choose an emphasis in food animal medicine while gaining as much experience as possible in small animal disciplines. After graduation, I hope to stay in the west — ideally returning to Wyoming, and work for at least five years in a mixed animal practice to gain hands-on experience.
The experience I will gain as a practicing veterinarian will provide a solid foundation for my ultimate career goal working in regulatory or diagnostic medicine.
Q: What are you most proud of so far in your education and pursuit of your career?
A: The master’s project that I have spent the last two years working on is one of my most meaningful college experiences.
For the first time in my school experience I feel that I am accomplishing something that is applied and will hopefully contribute to the greater body of knowledge.
I hope that the vaccine comparison trial will give wool growers in Wyoming an option for a bluetongue vaccine, and the wildlife research will help Game and Fish and other wildlife agencies manage populations effected by this important disease.
Q: From the time you started your veterinarian education until now, how has your perspective on the veterinarian profession and animal medicine changed?
A: Until my junior year of college, I thought about veterinary medicine in a very limited context in part because I grew up with a veterinarian mother.
In my mind, being a practicing veterinarian was synonymous with a DVM degree.
Since I had was not naive to the challenges this profession, I hesitated to pursue vet school.
However, through my master’s, I have worked with pathologists, virologists, epidemiologists and wildlife specialists at the State Veterinary Laboratory, as well as with livestock producers, practicing veterinarians, and Wyoming Game and Fish wildlife biologists.
My interactions with these professionals showed me that a degree in veterinary medicine has very broad applications and ultimately made my decision to attend vet school.
Q: What do you believe are the biggest challenges for veterinarians in the future, and what do you think will be some of the biggest changes for veterinarian industry 25 years from now?
A: The steadily increasing debt to income ratio is a real concern for graduating veterinarians.
As tuition cost increase, the average starting salary has remained fairly constant.
This forces new veterinarians to take the highest salary job offered, and not necessarily in their area of interest.
New graduates with a strong interest in large animal medicine often end up in small animal jobs because of more competitive salaries.
This scenario fuels the imbalances in veterinary services, particularly in food animal medicine.
With globalization of production agriculture, the skills and knowledge unique to experienced large animal veterinarians are critical.
Control and identification of foreign animal diseases like Foot and Mouth Disease is crucial to the economic health of the livestock industry.
A well trained and adequately paid veterinary work force will be essential to mitigate the potential economic disaster of introduction of one of these diseases into the U.S. ❖
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