The jitters didn’t hit me until the night before my flight out of Pullman, WA—my home for the last 3 years as I’ve pursued my veterinary degree at Washington State University. Suddenly, all the excitement that had been building for the previous months as my GRD externship dates got closer turned into that little voice in my head, filling me with doubts (I hate that little voice!!). This time, though, the worst worry by far was wondering if my time in quiet Pullman had jaded me against big city life.
WSU (affectionately pronounced “Wazzu” by any true Pacific Northwester) sits in the middle of the Palouse, an area located on the “other side” of Washington from Seattle. The Palouse is known more as a scenic expanse of rolling wheat fields, the birthplace of the Appaloosa horse, and the home of Cougar football (Go Cougs!) than for its microbreweries or rainforest beauty. For a girl who grew up in Connecticut, went to undergrad in DC, and then bounced around the country working on field campaigns until going to vet school, the adjustment to Pullman life has been another adventure. Now, at the beginning of my 4th year of vet school, I finally feel comfortable with the pace of the town. My worry as I boarded the plane to Seattle on my first leg on my journey to DC was whether I had become too comfortable. What if the bustle of a large city like DC now left me bewildered?
Thankfully, once again, that little voice was just being a jerk. From the moment I stepped onto the Metro at Reagan National the energy and purpose of DC has swept me up. And, the first 2 days of my time at the GRD has only continued that fast-paced bustle. My extern-mate, Nicola, and I have spent the last 48 hours becoming familiar with the GRD’s legislative agenda, meeting with staff about their legislative portfolios, setting up meetings with DC-area veterinarians at organizations like the Department of Homeland Security, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health, and beginning to explore the city.
It strikes me at the beginning of my third day that this is my favorite thing about the veterinary profession and what drew me to it in the first place. Veterinarians can be comfortable anywhere. Our background allows us to thrive in a big city all-cat small animal practice, on a ranch in Wyoming, across the world working in international medicine, in a laboratory researching emerging diseases, or in an office working to change federal policy. Whether I’m in the middle of wheat fields in Pullman, WA or the middle of the marble jungle of Washington, DC my veterinary training has given me a unique perspective and a purpose.
As my interests lie in Global Animal Health, specifically food security and animal and zoonotic disease control, while here at the GRD I’m excited to explore all the opportunities for veterinarians outside of traditional veterinary practice. I’m also excited to lobby on behalf of the profession on Capitol Hill, something I was lucky enough to be first exposed to during my 1st year of vet school as a WSU representative to the GRD’s Legislative Fly-In.
Nicola and I have a lot of exciting events, meetings, and explorations coming up in the next 4 weeks. I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes.