I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Philadelphia to attend some parts of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) meeting. I am always reminded of the amazing differences between East Coast and West Coast cities—architecture, history, food. I am grateful for the very real diversity of our country. It is a constant reminder of how our perspectives are so deeply informed by our environment and local culture.
We hosted a veterinary alumni reception, and I was inspired by the vast array of paths our DVM graduates had pursued. A veterinary degree provides a relevant, broad education that, over the course of a career, can be so fulfilling. There is leadership. A number of the Coug attendees at the reception have held, and continue to hold, high-level AVMA positions, including president. That is inspiring.
I met a woman who has had a long journey as an epidemiologist with the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations and now is with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. She loves international travel and service work. I met a colonel in the Army who served under President Barak Obama as the chief of the Veterinary Corps of the U.S. Army. So, there is that (I am glad I didn’t know that when we shared time together — very intimidating!). I met a veterinarian who specializes in theriogenology (and fishing and loves his trips to the Palouse). I met a few recent graduates who are making their way in clinical practice and asking the hard questions about how to continue to grow in their clinical work without pursuing a formal residency program. Brave, inquiring graduates. I met a rural large animal veterinarian struggling with whether he can sustain the intense work demand associated with his position. I hear the passion and see the incredible opportunities our profession offers, and I also see the very real challenges—our own alumni reception being a microcosm of the constant adaptation and change our profession undergoes.
We are food safety officers. We are cardiologists. We serve poultry operations, shelters, humane societies, zoos, and aquariums. We are in the military, CDC, academia, and all levels of government. Spirited and capable, we serve, and our profession is held in high esteem for our incredible contributions. Doesn’t mean it is easy. Thank you to all of our alumni who pay it forward, give back, and make a difference in the lives of our patients, clients, and community each and every day.