June 16, 2017

A D.C. One Health Epidemic

By Kerri Haider
Discuss it:
No Comments »

Topics:
General

This week we had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Dr. Bernadette Dunham from George Washington University Milken Institute of Public Health. Dr. Dunham has worked in the FDA CVM promoting One Health and she was even an Assistant Director at the AVMA GRD! We met Dr. Dunham at the Milken Institute of Public Health’s new building in the heart of the University. It was a breath of fresh air talking with Dr. Dunham about our profession and the great advancements we have been making in the One Health realm. We discussed an amazing collaboration between human and animal doctors at Colorado State University where doctors looked at the similarities between human pediatric bone cancer and osteosarcomas in dogs. The collaboration was a great success and a huge positive for the One Health movement. Leaving Dr. Dunham’s office left me feeling excited for my future and for the future of veterinary and human medicine. There are great resources online available to all – including the Global One Health Proceedings, the Spillover documentary, the 15 One Health Studies from the AAVMC and much more. Dr. Dunham had a great appreciation for the importance of sharing knowledge and I hope more veterinarians and students will continue to share and grow our profession!
Another Great event that we attended was the Science Breakthrough of 2030 at the National Academy of Sciences. We networked with the board members and others from the scientific community on the proposed projects for agricultural research and development. It was an honor to be a part of such an important event and be exposed to so many talented scientists. We met veterinarians who are passionate about changing the stigmas within the profession and creating more awareness of the importance of veterinarians being involved in food security. After the event I felt inspired to spread the word to other veterinary students about the amazing career options in agriculture and food security and I plan on making a network for students to be apart of such affairs.
On that note, the last two weeks have been AMAZING and I cant wait to see what the next two weeks have in store! Until next time, keep sharing the knowledge!

IMG_0469IMG_0471IMG_0472

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 16, 2017

“What do I want to be when I grow up?”

By Merrill Simpson
Discuss it:
No Comments »

Topics:
General

This question became my mid-vet-school-crisis. At the end of 2nd year I realized my diverse interests were muddling my post-graduation path. I became jealous of those who JUST KNOW they need to be equine internal medicine specialists, small animal general practitioners, pathologists etc. While every path is challenging in different ways, there is some solace in knowing your plan. For the first time in my life I was without a plan, and terrified. What I have learned is “what do I want to be when I grow up?” should be rephrased to “what do I want to grow into as I explore the rest of my life?” Recently, I watched a Stanford webinar about applying design thinking to career planning. The webinar advised thinking of a career as a process instead of an end-goal. Meetings this week have solidified that advice as fact when it comes to veterinary medicine.  I have had the opportunity to talk with successful veterinarians working in policy, as professors, as researchers for the NIH and current and past congressional fellows. Some of the veterinarians JUST KNEW they never wanted to work in practice, but almost all of them had some experience in practice. There are important skills to be learned in veterinary school and practice that can be applied to a variety of positions. We had the privilege of attending a boat cruise for Congressman Yoho, a veterinarian and representative of Florida’s 3rd congressional district. When I asked Congressman Yoho about this transition from practice to politics- he said the driving force was his unrest with the state of the government at that time and his desire to make changes. One of my meetings was at the Congressional baseball game. It was heartwarming to see solidarity and bipartisan fun during a contentious time in D.C.  What I took away from this week is that the possibilities are endless and explore all your interests. In this process you learn so much about yourself and the next step in career exploration.  And have fun in the meantime!

Group Picture of Boat CruiseExterns with Dr YohoCongress Baseball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 9, 2017

“So do you want to be a large or small animal vet?”

By Merrill Simpson
Discuss it:
No Comments »

Topics:
General

You’ve probably experienced this as the first question people ask after you tell them you are a veterinary student. “None of the above or all of the above” never seem to be appropriate answers to this question. But that is exactly what this externship is about- discovering non-traditional roles veterinarians can play in public health, policy and industry. I began this externship by attending the Senate hearing on the proposed education budget. During the hearing one senator referred to the budget as “abysmal” but another, in favor of the budget, asked the question why he can’t have 6 different options for his children’s education like he does when he shops for mayonnaise. The proposed budget would be a hard hit for college students, particularly graduate students, in the area of loan repayment. This experience exemplified the intense environment the federal government is in right now, with more division than ever over major issues. This also reminded me of interconnectedness, and that what happens on a federal level will impact the veterinary community. Veterinarians need to step up and advocate for themselves, but the biggest lesson I took away from this experience is that we need to work together. Compromise will be an essential component of progress.  AVMA Assistant Director, Gina Luke, said “when I am representing the AVMA, I do not have a political party.” We cannot allow our personal differences to hinder collaboration.  We attended an event hosted by the Association for Public and Land Grant universities (APLU) targeting the issue of international food security. There were several graduate students in attendance that are doing research to help address the issue of international food security. At the event, some people seemed a little confused about the role veterinarians play in that sphere. My fellow extern, Kerri, brought up the One Health initiative and how veterinarians have a vital role in ensuring food safety and security. Veterinarians that work for FSIS and in other federal agencies play a major role in ensuring food security.  Mariana Barros of the National Association of Federal Veterinarians (NAFV) informed us that there is a 13% vacancy in veterinary jobs within FSIS and they are working to make those positions more appealing to veterinarians. One Health is a major initiative as we recognize the delicate interplay of humans, animals, and the environment. I have met several veterinarians engaged in the One Health initiative and this seems like a burgeoning opportunity for veterinarians interested in public health.

Trumpet HorseMe and Kerri Challenge Change

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 9, 2017

You Had Me At Hello

By Kerri Haider
Discuss it:
No Comments »

Topics:
General

This was myself and Merrill Simpson’s first week in D.C. at the AVMA GRD Student Externship, and we are loving it! I was slightly nervous to move to the big city after having been in rural TN for the past three years but was up for the adventure. Having finally settled in and gotten the hang of the metro I am really enjoying traveling the city to Capitol Hill each day for various activities.

I am going to give you a short excerpt from how our first week went and all of the great things we have experienced already.

Day 1: Our first day at the AVMA GRD office, located in the quaint DuPont Circle area off of Sunderland Place, was an introduction into what to expect for the extent of our time here. We started the morning attending the weekly staff meeting and then continued our orientation on all of the objectives for this externship. We eagerly started contacting veterinarians from different federal branches and who work on Capitol Hill to set up meetings for the coming month. We also started to schedule evening events that you will read about below. After our first day we were excited to get rolling with the great opportunities ahead.

Day 2: We started the day off with a bang and headed to Capitol Hill early in the morning to attend the Senate Appropriations Hearing on the Education Budget. If anyone was watching the hearing you would know it got quite heated and interesting right off the bat. We learned about the shortcomings and improvements that the proposed education budget has and watched representatives inquire about their states needs and how the nation would respond to the proposed budget. After the hearing we headed back to the AVMA GRD to meet with Assistant Director Gina Luke to discuss her portfolio and what issues in Congress are important to the veterinary profession. Later that evening, we attended the Challenge Change event with professionals from various backgrounds collaborating on the issue of food security internationally. The event was held in the Rayburn House Office Building and it was a fun time trying to navigate our way around. At this event we mingled with students, congressmen, and professors who have been working on improving food security around the world. I was happy that one of my professors at LMU-CVM had thoroughly prepared me for conversations in such efforts and I was able to represent the veterinary profession in a knowledgeable way, exemplifying the skill set that veterinarians can bring to the table on food security issues.

Day 3: Today we met with the Director of the AVMA GRD, Dr. Mark Lutschaunig. We learned about his career path and what opportunities and hearings we can attend during our externship. We also had a meeting with Assistant Director Dr. Lauren Stump and spoke about the issues in her portfolio. We also picked her brain for good places to eat and what sites to see while in D.C. We rounded out the day with a tour of the Supreme Court. We learned about the process of court rulings and the history behind the building of the Supreme Court. During the evening we decided to try out happy hour at a tapas joint close to the office called Boqueria. It was delicious and we got a whole spread of authentic Spanish cuisine.

Day 4: We started the morning off at the Minnesota Breakfast meeting with Senator Amy Klobuchar. We enjoyed pastries flown in from MN and got to hear about the Senator’s major priorities. The breakfast was in the Hart Senate Office Building, where the famous Comey hearing was about to take place. We walked through the hallway and stood in the line to attend the hearing for about 5 minutes- just to say we were there. From there we headed over to the house side of the Hill and sat in on the Commodity Funding Trading Commission (CFTC) Budget Hearing. Finishing the day, we attended the One Health Academy monthly meeting at the Capital Yacht Club where we networked with other veterinarians interested in one health and learned about the Arctic Circle one health work being done by the US and Arctic Council.

Day 5: This morning I wanted to start the day off with a bang, so I woke up early to attend a yoga class across the street from where I am staying. After that I headed into the office where we had a meeting with Director of State Advocacy Dr. Ashley Morgan where we learned about her career path from equine medicine to policy. It was an uplifting morning discussing the career options for veterinarians and we are looking forward to the three weeks ahead. Later today I will be meeting with the Agriculture LA for Senator Gillibrand. Stay tuned for more updates from your AVMA GRD Externs on the Hill Each Friday!

KlobucharView from Capital Yacht Club

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 2, 2017

National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center

By Erin Holt
Discuss it:
No Comments »

Topics:
General

On my last night out on the town in D.C., I attended the National Symphony Orchestra as they played Mahler’s Second Symphony at the Kennedy Center. It was literally the best music I have ever heard. Here are a few things you should know before attending an event at the Kennedy Center. First, you do not have to dress up. My husband and I did dress up, and we did not feel out of place, but many people were dressed pretty casually. Second, it takes a while to get there. The shows are almost always when traffic is heavy, so you may want to leave an hour early or more depending on how far outside the city you are. Third, they lock the doors when the performance starts and they will not let you in. (Side note, the symphony does not have an intermission, so there is no potty break.) If you are like me, then this means some serious advanced planning. I have to drink enough coffee to make sure I stay awake; even a magical performance can lull you to sleep after a full day of sight-seeing or hill visits. On top of that, I have to make sure I am staying hydrated and that I get a bathroom break in before the show starts. That’s a lot to juggle. So of course, I arrived at exactly 7PM, flew to will call to grab my tickets, ran up three flights of stairs with the ticket lady saying, “I hope you make it” just to plop into my seat about two minutes before they locked the doors, and had to hold it for 80 minutes. In spite of all of that, it was a magical night.

The symphony was the best performance. They were able to play music so quietly, so loudly, so accurately. It held my attention the entire time. Also, the opera sat behind the symphony and during the last pieces, they also sang. The music gave me goose bumps, brought tears to my eyes, and made me ponder how humans could create something so much larger than themselves. The orchestra, conductor, and opera performers received at least five rounds of applause before I left the theater. The Kennedy Center is built on the Potomac River, so make sure you stop outside after the performance and take in the river. In the front of the building, where your Lyft driver will drop you off, there are adorable balls of light (I called them jellyfish), check that out too.

lights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 31, 2017

The D.C. Food Scene

By Erin Holt
Discuss it:
No Comments »

Topics:
General

Most people eat in D.C. based on what is close to their neighborhood. And I can’t say that I blame them. Almost every corner here has fantastic food. Let me tell you about a few great places you can try if you are close by or if you feel like taking a little trek. First, let’s talk fast food. Probably the greatest burger joint on earth is In-N-Out Burger. Unfortunately, there are none on the east coast. The second best burger place is Shake Shack. I have tried everything but the hot dogs and my favorite is the cheeseburger with everything on it add ShackSauce, crinkle fries, and a vanilla shake. Best breakfast here so far has been A Baked Joint. They make biscuits daily with different ingredients cooked into them like ham and cheddar or rosemary and sausage. You can get these biscuits made into a sandwich with egg and mayonnaise (I order mine without the mayo). Also, I did not try it, but the French toast looked amazing.

If you are able to spend a little more money and feel like trying something different, Rasika West End has been called the best Indian food ever. I tried the tandoori chicken and the red snapper and both were excellent. Since D.C. has a large Ethiopian restaurant scene, I checked out CherCher and got the berbere lentils (spicy red sauce that is heavenly), lamb, and the sirloin. If you have never eaten Ethiopian before it is a wonderful experience to share with friends. The food is served on a sour bread that is spongey and soaks up all the flavors (called injera). You also use other pieces of injera to pick up your food and eat it. It is a fun way to eat a family style meal. There are probably a ton of good places for ramen in D.C., but I went to Momofuku CCDC. I recommend the apple kimchi (pictured), soft-shell crab bun, Korean wings, and pork ramen. You might want to bring a friend to help you eat it all. The dessert from Milk is also good, although I am pretty picky about dessert. The soft serve is fun to get as well as the birthday truffles (you may have to walk over to Milk bar to get the birthday truffles, but they are in the same building). My biggest piece of advice is don’t be afraid to try something new while you are here.

apple kimchi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 29, 2017

The Museum Capitol

By Erin Holt
Discuss it:
No Comments »

Topics:
General

You may have noticed, there are a lot of museums in D.C. So many in fact, you may not find the time to see all of them in the month you are here. One thing to know before you arrive, is that you need tickets for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the White House. You can get tickets to the first two about a month or more in advance online. If you have arrived and do not have tickets, you can try to get some the morning you wish to attend by visiting the website at 6:30 AM (African American) or 6 AM (Holocaust) and seeing if they release any for the day. There are also timed tickets that are released at 1 PM (African American) and 9:45 AM (Holocaust). The White House tours need to be applied for 6 months in advance online through your representative’s website. However, if you have missed that deadline, you can call your representative’s office and ask to get tickets (about a month in advance) and they can usually get them.

I have been to the National Museum of African American History and Culture and it was amazing. If you are a veteran, or know a veteran, they can get you into the museum without an advanced ticket. They only let one guest in per veteran. I started the museum with a temporary exhibit called “More than a Picture” which contained many powerful themes and images. One of the series of images showed the decay and gentrification of a city block over time. It also had an image of the doorway in Africa that looks out onto the Middle Passage. I then explored the bottom of the museum where you ride an elevator down into the 1400’s and travel through time beginning with slavery and ending in modern times. Another museum well worth seeing is the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. This museum contains items such as Howdy Doody, Indian Jones’ hat and whip, the microphone from the Fireside chats, Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves, Abraham Lincoln’s top hat from the night he was shot in the Ford theater, and Bert and Ernie, among many more. They plan to open several new exhibits in the coming years too. My favorite part was the First Ladies’ inauguration dresses. The dresses are lovely and they show you so much about the fashion and culture of the time. Definitely pick a few museums when you come to D.C. and plan to spend a half a day in each if not more.

Ali

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 26, 2017

Women’s Empowerment, Women in Power

By Erin Holt
Discuss it:
No Comments »

Topics:
General

This week, it was my privilege to attend the Center for American Progress Panel Discussion, “Beyond the Ambition Gap: Challenging the Systems that Keep Women off Ballots and Out of Office”. The meeting actually had two separate panels. The first had Representative Jayapal (D-WA) and Representative Barragán (D-CA) speaking about their experiences running for office and the challenges they faced. Rep. Jayapal was an activist for years and was finally motivated to run when she realized it would be easier to run, get elected, and fight for the change she believed in than trying to convince someone else to make those changes. Rep. Barragán was motivated to run for local city counsel government when she was flipping through the channels and watched her local representation and realized she was just as capable as those people if not more so. She shared the many challenges she faced during her race for Congress including being told that the seat was already promised to someone else and she should back off, quitting her job to run full time, mortgaging her house to have enough money to run, and making phone calls trying to raise enough money 9-5 every weekday. For her, this was the most challenging aspect; becoming a fundraiser overnight. Rep. Jayapal said she thought of it in a different light in order to make raising money easier. She offered a new vision and believed she was asking people to invest in that vision, rather than looking at it like she was asking for money for herself. These are two strong, powerful women that I am proud to have serve in Congress, even if they do not represent me by district.

The second panel included Jessica Byrd of Three Point Strategies, Kate Black from EMILY’s List, and Glynda Carr of Higher Heights for America. They discussed the challenges women face when they run and their experiences trying to get women, and women of color elected. Women of color face an even more difficult and wider gap when it comes to holding positions of power or elected office. There are currently no African American women heading Fortune 500 companies. There are only 8 women of color that are mayors of major cities, of those, 5 are black women. The sad fact is that the US lags behind in female leadership. Women make up 25% of local and national representation, but comprise 50% of the population. Research and the personal experience of this panel is that when women run for office, the local media are much more likely to use an unappealing picture of her, to call her a difficult woman, and to minimize her accomplishments compared to her male counterpart. In one election, three candidates each got a write up on their accomplishments, but the editor completely cut the accomplishments of the female candidate and replaced it with her being a loud speaker. I believe women make wonderful leaders and that our representation should be diverse much like our population. I will be sure to take a closer look at candidates that do not fit the traditional mold to make sure I form my own opinions on them from now on.

May 22, 2017

Pandas, Tamarins, and Sea Lions, Oh My!

By Erin Holt
Discuss it:
No Comments »

Topics:
General

After being here for two weeks, I finally went to the National Zoo. There are two things you should know right off the bat. The park opens at 8 AM while the exhibit houses open at 9 AM. I recommend getting there at 8 AM so you can get a head start on seeing the animals that are not in exhibit houses, especially since the animals are more active in the morning when the weather is hot. Also, the crowds start to get heavy at 11 AM, so the earlier, the better. Make sure you get dropped off at the Connecticut Avenue side of the park which is at the top of the hill that the zoo is built on. This will mean that you are walking downhill most of the day. If you like a workout, then start at the Harvard Avenue side and walk up. The National Zoo is very large and even though the website says it takes 3 hours, I stayed for 5 hours and did not see everything. The chicken tenders are okay, the fries were soggy. You can pack a lunch and bring it with you. Just donate to the zoo in some fashion (if you can afford it). You can even text a donation.

The pandas were amazing of course. This is the third time I have seen pandas in a zoo (Atlanta, Memphis, and now D.C.) and they never disappoint. The female, Mei Xiang was in estrus and was scent marking the trees. The male, Tian Tian was pacing his enclosure trying to figure out how to get to Mei Xiang. The staff monitor Mei Xiang’s uterine cells to make sure they breed her at the best time at which point they try to allow natural mating, but if that does not take, they do IVF. The baby panda, Bei Bei which is old enough to be on his own now, spent most of his time napping in the trees. The sea lions were not to be missed. They put on a show for the crowd (without prompting); swimming, waving, and putting their noses on the glass. Under the water, their hair appears a beautiful silver on their head and blue on their flippers. The golden lion tamarin (marmoset), lemurs, and apes were fun to watch. They watched the crowd and jumped from enclosure to enclosure with excitement. The orangutans have a series of towers with ropes between them that they can use to travel across the zoo from one pen to another. I will be attending zoo rounds the last week of my externship and hope to learn even more. Definitely make time for the zoo when you visit.

Panda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 18, 2017

Meeting the Delegation

By Erin Holt
Discuss it:
No Comments »

Topics:
General

I had my first meetings this week to discuss the Fairness to Pet Owners Act. In case you are not familiar with it, the Fairness to Pet Owners Act would make it mandatory for veterinarians to write a prescription every time they are recommending a medication to a client unless it is an emergency situation and the animal is receiving the medication immediately. This would add extra time and steps to the appointment process and may increase costs to the consumer. Clients are already able to receive a prescription in lieu of buying medication from their veterinarian to try to get the medication for a lower cost. You are probably familiar with the 1-800-Pet-Meds commercials. Veterinarians are not really allowed to deny this request since many states have laws against it or the veterinary medical board for the state considers it a violation and therefore the veterinarian could be disciplined or lose their license. It is for these reasons that the AVMA does not support the Fairness to Pet Owners Act.

I met with Senator Lamar Alexander’s office (TN) in the Hart office on the Senate side. Everyone I will meet with during my time in D.C. will be from Tennessee since that is my hometown. The staff member was very nice and listened to me, even though I was probably talking too quickly. He asked a few questions about how an interaction would change between a veterinarian and a client should the bill pass and I gave him an example. “You bring your dog in for a rash, I recommend an antibiotic to clear it up, I then write you a prescription for that antibiotic. At that point, I let you know, I can fill this prescription for you, or you can take it somewhere else to get it filled, but they may not have the correct dose you need since your dog is little.” We then met with Senator Bob Corker’s office. His staff member was also extremely friendly. My friend, Caroline Sosebee who was in for the Legislative Advisory Committee as the SAVMA representative and is also a third year at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine (Go Vols!), took point on this meeting. She was so well spoken and explained why we were opposed to the bill. We asked that if a companion Senate bill were put forward that Senator Corker not support it. Our last meeting was with Representative Jimmy Duncan’s office on the House side. The staff member gave no indication which way they might lean on the bill, but she was still very welcoming to us and listened to our side. I hope Rep. Duncan will not support the bill. We also asked her to thank Rep. Duncan for being a member of the veterinary caucus. He is the only member from Tennessee that is on it.

My advice for meetings: read through the information a few times, think about the points that resonate with you the most, and feel free to include your own experiences if they apply. Since these are veterinary or animal issues, we frequently have more experience than the people we are talking to. Then take a deep breath and just start a conversation!