Meet our educators: Dr. Lynne Nelson

Dr. Lynne Nelson outside the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

When Dr. Lynne Nelson applied to WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, the thought of creating a new cardiology teaching service was exciting. Twenty-five years later, the cardiology service that started under her is thriving. In addition to leading the service with fellow cardiologist Dr. Ryan Baumwart, Dr. Nelson enjoys teaching third- and fourth-year veterinary students, noting their understanding of physiology and pathology primes them for learning in a clinical setting. Dr. Nelson is also passionate about wildlife and works closely with zoos and animal refuge programs to assess the heart health of animals like bears and great apes.

What are you currently teaching and what do you like most about teaching students at WSU?

I teach cardiology and respiratory medicine. Because there is a lot of overlap in symptoms in these two systems, students need to use their investigative skills to parse out the correct cause of symptoms. It’s so much fun to see them put all the pieces together and solve the puzzle.

What has been your path leading up to WSU?

I am originally from Alabama and went to Auburn University. I have degrees in wildlife biology and veterinary medicine from Auburn. I spent some time in general veterinary practice before my residencies in internal medicine and cardiology at Iowa State University. I also spent some time in specialty practice in Tucson, Arizona, before coming to WSU. I loved Arizona and was saddened to leave, but it turns out I loved academic veterinary medicine and teaching even more. WSU had the only open cardiology position at the time (almost 25 years ago). I applied, not knowing what I might think of eastern Washington. Now I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

What drew you to WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine?

I really wanted to be back in an educational setting when I applied for the cardiologist position at WSU. There was no cardiology service here at the time and the thought of creating a new program was exciting. The veterinary students were very keen to have a cardiology elective. They probably taught me more than I taught them about how to run a teaching service. The process was collaborative.  I am originally from the South, but I have always felt like a Westerner at heart. The people in our college, the community, and the region in general, create an incredible combination of the perfect place to be for me. The Palouse is a best-kept secret for work and play.

What is your favorite part about being an educator?

There are many things I like about being an educator. I like learning theory and curricular designs that are intentionally built upon evidence-based methods. We have a great curriculum and people dedicated to making sure it remains current and relevant. I have been heavily involved in some aspect of veterinary medical education management for most of my career here and I love seeing how the process works when our students walk out the door as doctors. I am very proud when I see students confidently manage their patients – with only a minor check-in from me. It takes four years of education and many talented instructors along this pathway. As a clinician, I am fortunate to be able to see the final chapters of the educational process.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I have a degree in wildlife biology and in some ways consider wildlife to be my first love. I work with a number of zoos, captive wild animal and field programs to assess heart conditions in many species – especially bears and great apes. This has taken me all over the world to work with some amazing different species.