VOICE/BSVSA Collaboration Trip Fall 2019

LSU and Auburn VOICE/BSVSA clubs met at Dauphin Island August 31 – September 2, 2019

Saturday the clubs met for lunch in Theodore, Alabama. After that we checked into our Airbnb house Saturday afternoon.

A grocery list was made for the weekend and meals were planned. Groceries were bought at a local store by a small group while the rest stayed to unpack, settle in, and study since the LSU students had a test Tuesday morning.

Saturday evening the clubs met for their collaboration meeting. We reintroduced ourselves to each other with our club roles and an interesting fact about ourselves. At the meeting many beneficial things were discussed such as the different meetings/events held at each school and the differences in student/faculty/school reception of these events. Speaker names and ideas were also swapped. Numerous other topics about various diversity and inclusivity issues were also discussed such as how racial, sexual, gender, etc. outreach and education was handled. Planning for the regional Southeastern Diversity Conference was also discussed since Auburn will be hosting it this upcoming Spring and a few students from LSU had attended the last one in Spring 2018 at the University of Tennessee.

Sunday was spent getting to know each other better and swapping personal stories at the beach and at the house. Some more studying was also done and later after dinner we played Just Dance and had a lot of goofy entertainment from that activity.


Externs on the Hill

By Haillie Crockett, Tufts University

When I applied to a four-week externship with the AVMA Government Relations Division in Washington D.C., I knew that as a dual degree DVM/MPH student who has always had an interest in non-traditional veterinary career paths, it would be a valuable means to gain public policy experience. I also knew that I would have the chance to meet many veterinarians doing interesting work in federal agencies,congressional offices, and independent organizations. I did not realize that I would walk away with a completely different outlook on my career and the roles I can play within the veterinary profession. While I could write a short book about everything I learned during my time with the AVMA, I have donemy best to boil it down to my three main takeaways:

1. If you do not love what you are doing, change it.
For some, a long career in clinical practice is deeply fulfilling. For others, our lives and interests
pull us in surprising new directions, and for still others the reality of clinical practice is more of a
mixed bag when long hours, difficult clients, or toxic work environments are an everyday
reality. We might feel we should “tough it out”; after all, we toughed it out through college, vet
school, and possibly an internship and residency. These experiences tend not to teach us to
prioritize our own mental health, happiness or evolving interests. We know that these factors
contribute to the high rates of mental illness and suicide in our profession, and it pains me to
know that veterinarians stay in situations that push them there. But keep in mind that we live in
a complex, interdisciplinary world where the average American changes professions five to
seven times in their adult life. An incredible variety of opportunities and paths exist for
veterinarians from regulatory work to policy making to military service to industry and more.
While some of these paths may be very different from the image we had of ourselves in school,
it is critical to empower veterinarians that are struggling in their current role to make a change
that fulfills them while also supporting their mental health. Trading a career in clinical practice
for a desk job may feel like quitting when, in reality, it can be the beginning of an equally
fulfilling career that serves both humans and animals while allowing for prioritization of one’s
happiness and mental health. And if you are thinking of making a change but are not sure where
to begin, it’s also important to know that…

2. Almost every veterinarian is happy to talk to you about what they do; you just have to ask.
As I started reaching out to veterinarians in the DC area, I expected a fair number to not respond
or not have time for me. After all, these are busy, specialized professionals. I was blown away by
how responsive and excited to meet almost every person was. It demonstrated the strength of
the veterinary community. I met with veterinarians who were Colonels, CEOs, and Congressmen
during my time in DC; every person was incredibly generous with their time, and for that I am
deeply grateful. This is an aspect of our profession and the people it attracts that should not be
taken for granted. A long resume or list of credentials can be intimidating, but we all have the
shared experience of veterinary school and a shared passion for animal health. I now feel so
much more comfortable reaching out to those doing work I find interesting, even if it is just to
chat about what they do and how they got there, and I hope that veterinarians in all stages of
their careers feel the same.

3. No matter how you use your veterinary degree, you have a role to play in policy.
During my time with the AVMA I saw veterinarians influencing policy in many ways. Some had
dedicated their careers to policy, but many others were clinicians who made policy a priority in
other ways. They did this by writing op-eds, calling their representatives, building relationships
with their state governments, and serving with their state VMAs. Especially at the federal level,
it can feel like our voices do not make a difference, but I can attest that many representatives
are excited to hear from veterinarians on issues of animal health and veterinary business, where
we are subject experts. The only way to make sure that elected officials are receiving accurate
information about legislation that affects our community is for them to hear it from us. We hear
about the importance of advocacy often, and it is hard to find the time, but I have seen firsthand
the difference that it makes and the sense of empowerment it can give us. I encourage every
member of the veterinarian community to find some way, even if it feels small, to advocate for
our profession.

I am very grateful to the people who took time out of their busy days to discuss their careers and their impact on the world and to the AVMA GRD staff for providing such an eye-opening experience. I walked away from each of these meetings with a little more knowledge and wisdom about the profession in general and my career specifically. I encourage any veterinary student that wants to expand their knowledge of our diverse profession, learn about the policy making process, and build a bigger network to look into this externship. And if you have more questions, remember, all you have to do is ask.







The Road Less Traveled

These stunning photographs were submitted by Brayden Routh from Oklahoma State University!

The Road Less TraveledTurquoise TreasureWhen The Weekend Hits


Galápagos Islands

By Erin Beasley, North Carolina State University

During spring break of 2018, I traveled with thirty-one other veterinary students and two professors to the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador for a study abroad program.  I learned about the unique and diverse native species, local culture, and current scientific work with Galápagos tortoises.

After spending a night in Guayaquil, Ecuador, we flew to San Cristóbal.  Seeing the island from the air was fascinating because I noticed the different landscapes/geography of the island.  We walked to Darwin’s Cove and snorkeled there.  I was amazed by the plentiful wildlife, including sea lions, sea turtles, and many fish.  I was most excited to swim with the sea turtles.  While we were exploring the cove, I thought about how Darwin was there long ago.  Walking along the trail, we saw a beautiful sunset along with marine iguanas and sea lions.  We also spotted a marine iguana digging a nest.  The first day in the Galápagos Islands exceeded expectations, so we were excited for the rest of the week.

The next day, we performed health assessments on Galápagos tortoises at the Galapaguera.  I enjoyed learning about the handling techniques of the tortoises, the daily activities of the tortoises, and the involvement of the national park workers.  By the end of the day, I had taken temperature of tortoises, collected blood, obtained heart rates and respiratory rates, and observed their overall condition.  This experience showed me how field work is conducted in the islands, and it made me look forward to field work in the future.

Galápagos tortoiseWe also embarked on a SCUBA diving trip to Kicker Rock.  My favorite part was swimming within a very large school of fish.  Additionally, we swam with over fifty sharks, including a hammerhead shark.  It was interesting to compare the marine ecosystem with North Carolina’s.  Later that day, we hiked around La Loberia, where we saw dozens of marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, and various gulls.

Marine iguana

We left San Cristóbal and arrived at Isabela Island.  This island was more remote.  We snorkeled at Concha de Perla, where I saw a variety of fish, sea lions, and marine iguanas.  One day, we hiked to the top of the volcano Cerro Negra and viewed the caldera.  This caldera is one of the largest in the world, and it was interesting to learn about the life cycle of lava from the tour guide.  I also biked to the Wall of Tears, which is a sad part of history in the islands.  However, it was good to learn about the history from a tour guide that is a descendent of the original inhabitants. 

Caldera of volcano Cerro Negra

After leaving Isabela Island, we traveled to Santa Cruz.  This island was more populated.  We visited the Charles Darwin Research Center, where we met the lead scientists there and saw Lonesome George.  I liked hearing about their current research and educational efforts.  We also visited the Darwin Animal Doctors Hospital.  This visit helped me understand how veterinary medicine can be conducted in remote settings.

When we returned to Guayaquil, we walked through the land iguana park, along the river, and climbed five hundred stairs to the lighthouse.  Through this adventure, I was able to observe the culture in this large city.

Overall, this study abroad program was fantastic.  I learned so much from seeing the various species in their natural habitat.  This experience also showed me public health issues and research opportunities there.  It was great to spend time with fellow classmates as well.  I am thankful for the support from the SAVMA Integrative Communications and Diversity Committee’s Diversity and Communications Development Travel Grant!


Too Much Cuteness!

These adorable photos were submitted by Christina Barrett from Western University and feature her cats, Thomas and Stiles, and her pups, Jade and Tiger!









Thomas and Jade