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Entries in Washington DC (5)


The Veterinary Student Externship You Didn’t Know You Needed

By Dilara Kiran, September 2018 AVMA GRD Extern and Combined DVM/PhD Student at Colorado State University

Have you ever found yourself itching for more, for the chance to make a broader impact on the veterinary profession and to get outside the clinic walls? That’s how I felt when I learned about the AVMA Government Relations Division (GRD) Externship. The externship came highly recommended to me from a classmate and seemed like a great fit. I was disgruntled with the current political climate, was hitting roadblocks in my PhD research, and was tired of sitting in the same veterinary school classroom. I yearned to be able to apply the clinical medicine and basic science I was learning through my combined degree program in a new way. 

Exceeding Expectations
After I was accepted, I looked forward to my externship block for months. I knew I would be spending four weeks in Washington D.C., that I would learn more about policy issues impacting the veterinary profession, and that I would be able to meet veterinarians working in “non-traditional” veterinary fields. I came to D.C. as a sponge, ready to throw myself into all activities and soak up as much new information as I could. Ultimately, this externship exceeded all my expectations. From navigating Washington D.C. (despite the rain and humidity), to drafting documents for members of Congress to advocate for veterinary-related issues, to meeting leading public health veterinarians, I loved every minute. The experience was not just about policy and advocacy, it was about exposing myself to the range of possibilities offered to veterinarians and the many doors that a veterinary degree can open post-graduation.

The Highlight Reel
There were so many incredible things I got to do during my time at the AVMA that I could write a blog post about each one. To keep this post within a reasonable limit, I’ll highlight some of the most impactful moments:

  • Pet Night on Capitol Hill
  • Farm Bill Conference Committee Hearing
  • Meeting about the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF)
  • Meeting both of my senator
  • Meeting all veterinarians who are current members of Congress
  • Smithsonian Outbreak Exhibit

All Students Should Apply for This Externship
I believe that this externship is for more than just the student interested in policy. This externship was about building connections and finding passion and meaning in veterinary medicine. It was about being inspired by the veterinary community, learning the importance of my voice, and finding value in being involved and giving back to my profession in diverse ways. I saw the intersection of policy, advocacy, government, and public health in a way I never would have experienced at my own institution. These are the opportunities not found in a textbook, in the classroom, or in a surgery suite.

What Can You Do Now to Have an Impact?
I urge all my fellow students to explore unique opportunities and take chances. You never know who you will meet or how a month of experiences will change your outlook. While the deadline for this year’s AVMA GRD externship application has passed, and while you may not be able to make it to Washington D.C., I would encourage you to be involved. There are outlets such as becoming a member of the electronic AVMA Congressional Advocacy Network, learning about the AVMA Political Action Committee, and attending state VMA Advocacy Training, that can allow you to be more informed on pertinent policy issues in veterinary medicine. There are multiple externship opportunities outside of traditional private practice through government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health, USDA, and through AVMA, which allow you to gain experiences that are not available within a clinical setting and are valuable for perspective-building, even if you pursue a practice-based career. 

Excitement for The Future
I strive to bridge gaps between veterinary and human medicine through my understanding of clinical practice and basic research science. The AVMA GRD externship expanded my professional network of individuals I can contact for advice and encouragement as I navigate a non-traditional career pathway in veterinary medicine. It opened my eyes to the impact of policy, not only related to animal health, but related to tax, healthcare, and education, on the veterinary profession. This experience exposed me to career opportunities that I had not previously considered and helped solidify that I am following the path I was meant to follow in veterinary medicine. I came back to Colorado excited and energized for my future, and I hope that you, reading this, will be encouraged to pursue opportunities that make you feel the same.

Dilara Kiran, AVMA Extern, in front of the AVMA GRD officeAVMA Externs Dilara Kiran and Erin Beasley with Representative Kurt Schrader (OR), one of three veterinarians in Congress













The winner of the “cutest dog” contest at Pet Night on Capitol HillLarge mosquito replica at the Outbreak Exhibit at the Museum of Natural HistoryDilara Kiran, AVMA Extern, with the Capitol Building



YOU should become a LOBBYIST!

Honorable Mention, Experiences category
Samantha McDonnel, UC Davis

Okay I’m going to keep this brief because I know you veterinary students have an attention span of about 0.034 seconds.  Ughh, I probably already lost some of you…  And that’s only if you glanced down at this title for long enough after tabbing over to Facebook from your pathology notes during one of your professor’s digressions, and decided to keep reading.

For those select few who are still with me… you’re probably thinking that you don’t want to be a lobbyist (ew); you want to be a veterinarian, and actually, you know, do some benefit for society and make your mom proud (things lobbyists clearly never accomplish).  But if you reach the end of this article, I hope you take away one thing: ANYONE can be a (part-time) lobbyist!  

I, Samantha McDonnel, current DVM/PhD student, was a lobbyist in February in Washington DC, petitioning our congresspeople (yes, that is the term, get used to it) to vote certain ways on certain issues.  Hanie Elfenbein (another UCD DVM/PhD student) and I attended the AVMA legislative fly-in and went to the offices of California Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and Rep. Mike Thompson (District 1) to lobby on two pieces of legislation of great importance to our profession: the ‘Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act’ and the ‘Fairness to Pet Owners Act.’  What’s that you say?  You’ve never heard of these things??  Of course not.  You’re a student, and you probably don’t even know much about national current events.  But there might come a point (soon) when you have heard of such bills, and when it really matters to you whether or not they pass.

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Washington D.C. and you

As our profession continues to evolve, the veterinarians role in the political arena becomes increasingly important. How can you best prepare yourself for emerging issues facing veterinary medicine?

The 3rd annual Veterinary Student Legislative Day seeks to initiate your participation in the legislative process! Spending February 7-8, 2011 in Washington D.C., you will learn about current public policy topics, spend time on Capitol Hill visiting with legislators, and have the opportunity to explore D.C.!

If you are interested in learning more about how legislation works and what role you can play, I suggest you consider this opportunity. I attended a couple years ago and had a great experience. You get to meet like-minded students from across the country, talk with legislators about current veterinary issues and learn how to be effective with those communications. And who knows, you might even get a glimpse of someone famous!

Interested students should get in touch with the SAVMA delegate at their school for more information about attending. Registration ends November 1st, so hurry up!


AVMA Student Externship in Washington D.C.!

The AVMA is excited to offer the AVMA Student Externship Program to all students who will have completed their second year of study by May 2011.  That's right students, you don't have to be a fourth year to take advantage of this externship.  Students will get an opportunity to actively participate in the legislative process, meet veterinarians working on Capitol Hill, and get to experience our nation's capital.

Deadline:  October 8, 2010

What:  AVMA provides a $1,200 stipend for a 4 week externship

Where:  AVMA Government Relations Division, Washington, D.C.

When:  There are several blocks available for next year, check out the link below

All information is available on the website.  This is a great opportunity to positively impact animal health, veterinary medicine, and veterinary students while gaining an insiders prospective to the legislative process.  



Veterinary Students Take on Washington, D.C.

By : Susan Dugat

Class of 2011, Texas A&M University

Over 60 veterinary students representing 24 veterinary schools gathered at the Dupont Hotel in Washington, D.C. February 1-2, 2010 for the 2nd annual Veterinary Student Legislative Day.  The program is organized by the Student AVMA Governmental Affairs Committee and the AVMA Governmental Relations Division (GRD) as an interactive discussion and educational program about advocacy and the legislative process.  Students flew from all across the United States, the Caribbean, and Canada, many taking time over the weekend to tour the nation’s capital as a snowstorm covered the city under inches of white.

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