What can I say other than that it is good to be back in Washington, DC? This week marked the beginning of my four-week externship in the Governmental Relations Department of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Having lived in this great city before, I was more than thrilled to return. However, this return has marked a serious dichotomy from the last time I lived here. Three years ago, I came to DC as a Smithsonian intern in the Nutrition Lab at the National Zoological Park. I had a million poorly defined dreams, no particular direction, and had never lived in a metropolis before. I had just completed my first year of veterinary school, and, to be honest, I was not even sure that I still wanted to be a veterinarian. I had no friends, no pets with me, and I felt like I had made a huge mistake stepping outside of my comfort zone. Now, here I am, almost three full years later, effectively finished with veterinary school, infinitely wiser (though definitely not wise), and pumped to be back in this cosmopolitan city. I am enjoying staying with two amazing friends and their hilarious cats. And, most importantly, I am excited and proud that I shall be a practicing veterinarian in just a couple months.
It is not entirely clear what my future will hold, but this week has bought about a lot of introspection. Finally, after a whirlwind year of clinics, I have been able to take some time to evaluate what I have learned over the past year and what it means to be a veterinarian. In talking to various veterinarians in non-traditional careers this week, I have been forced to re-confront why I entered this profession and what I hope to contribute to it. I feel so different than the person that I appeared to be three years ago, more knowledgeable, more confident, but underneath it all, there are still the same motivations. The girl who committed to this profession because she was so touched by the way a small, rural south Indian village responded to a surgeon and her saving a calf by Caesarean section is the same veterinary student who felt so rewarded by her first clients’ appreciation at giving their dog another chance. I do not know if I shall become an immunologist or a surgeon, but I do know that I am looking forward to learning all that I can in the following weeks so that I shall be able to advocate effectively on behalf of the members of my profession and allow more people’s lives to be touched by us helping their animals.