It’s been a bit quiet here at the Uncommon Veterinarian over the last month, so I wanted to get a little update up before another week slips by. I’ll start things off with a personal update before giving you the inside scoop about some unique veterinarians and opportunities further down the page.
I had a lot of fun participating in my older sister’s wedding during a two-week vacation back to the U.S. The wedding ceremony and reception took place outdoors on an old farm on the Chesapeake Bay owned by the new husband’s family. No animals are on the farm currently, but one new brother-in-law (ahem) may have plans to change that.
Thinking About the Future
I’m still not sure what I’m going to do come next summer when my Army assignment in Sicily comes to an end. At this point I’m about 95% certain that I will get off active duty (since my five year commitment will be over) and transition into the Army Reserve. But the reserves only requires one weekend a month and two weeks a year, so what will I do for my “real” job?
That is the question that is on my mind. All. The. Time. As I hope you’ve seen here on my site, we have a lot of cool options as veterinarians. At the end of the day, though, we can only pick one of them (or maybe two) at a time. So what will it be?
Even though I could have happily spent my whole vacation catching up with family and friends and exploring the zoo and museums in D.C., I knew I should take advantage of the time to do some more serious professional exploring.. I sent a few e-mails out and ended up setting up three different meetings while I was there.
I thought it might be worthwhile to tell you about these meetings. It’s not only that they were all with fellow uncommon veterinarians doing interesting things in the world, but I also want you to understand the mindset and strategies that you need to have as you pursue your own goals.
With one exception (I met Whitney from the AVMA at a national SAVMA event while we were both vet students), I didn’t know any of these people before sending them e-mails out of the blue. This is something that I’ve gotten more comfortable with, but it’s still not easy to put myself out on a limb like that. What if they never respond? Is it really worth the effort?
Wildlife Conservation Society
I was excited to reconnect with Dr. Steve Osofsky, Executive Director for Wildlife Health & Health Policy at the Wildlife Conservation Society. Dr. Osofsky was kind enough to respond to a random e-mail from me over six years ago while I was preparing my application for the Boren Fellowship. It was partially through his generosity and connections that I was able to set up such a unique set of experiences in Mozambique, and I’ve followed his inspiring work ever since.
In his role at the Wildlife Conservation Society, Dr. Osofsky has been able to initiate some incredible projects that all of you should check out, like WCS-HEAL and WCS-AHEAD. You’ll be glad to know that this stuff is going on.
AVMA Governmental Relations Division
Another meeting was with Drs. Whitney Miller and Mark Lutschaunig from the AVMA’s Governmental Relations Division. You may not have realized that the AVMA owns a big beautiful townhouse just south of Dupont Circle in the heart of Washington, D.C. This is where a full-time staff (including four veterinarians) advocates for the veterinary profession with the federal government.
My primary reason for setting up this meeting was to learn a little more about the AVMA Fellowship Program, which supports three veterinarians each year as scientific advisers to members of Congress. I think I would enjoy a lot of things about this opportunity, as I’ve always been fascinated by the workings of government and would love to use my education and experience to influence policy in this way. The application isn’t due until February 14 of next year, so I have plenty of time to think about that option.
I hope some of you vet students are considering the AVMA’s Governmental Relations Student Externship Program! This externship provides a $1200 stipend to support students for four weeks working with the AVMA’s office in D.C. You would get to meet and interact with veterinarians who work in all different areas of the federal government, so if you’re thinking of a pursuing government work this is definitely a way to get a good head start. You should also check out the ongoing blog kept by current students, Externs on the Hill. Don’t delay, though: the application is due on October 11!
As an extra bonus, I also got to chat for a few minutes with Dr. Michael Gilsdorf, executive vice-president of the National Association of Federal Veterinarians. The NAFV rents office space from the AVMA, so when I was introduced to Dr. Gilsdorf in passing we realized that we had exchanged a few e-mails months earlier after my post about resources for those interested federal veterinary jobs.
Silent Heroes Foundation
My second meeting was with Dr. Hayley Adams, founder and co-director of the Silent Heroes Foundation. This small organization brings a One Health approach to wildlife conservation in Africa, and Dr. Adams had a bunch of valuable advice to share with me about working in the conservation field. Along with the DVM, of course, Dr. Adams has a PhD and is double-boarded in preventive medicine and microbiology. I would love to follow in her footsteps and be involved in the same type of innovative projects that she is pursuing.
Until Next Time
Any thoughts or suggestions for me as I continue thinking about my own next steps? I’m all ears!
And what about you? What steps are you taking as you plan for the next stage, educationally or professionally?