As someone who is getting ready to start veterinary school, I get asked one question more than any other, “Do you want to work with small or large animals?” If I had a nickel for every time I went on to explain what public health is and how I’ll like to work in the gray area of veterinary medicine, I’d be able to pay for vet school.
So, between the confused stares and the “So you won’t be my go-to veterinarian for all my puppy needs?” I like to open people’s minds to the idea of veterinarians not only being your local, friendly, private practice vet but also being involved in your food security, research, disease surveillance, and many, many other public services.
My passion for public health and the idea of working in the public sector started when I learned about the concept of One Health. A concept that veterinary medicine is beginning to strongly endorse, it is centered around the idea that people, animals, the environment and their health are all connected. Learning that 75% of emerging diseases are zoonotic and can spread from animals to humans and that humans can cause algae blooms that affect wildlife and human health, really set the spark inside of me. With public health being the backbone and the connection from human medicine to veterinary medicine, I immediately was drawn to these other opportunities of what I can do with a doctorate in veterinary medicine. There is so much more to veterinary medicine than what we may see in private practice. Not all veterinarians wear white coats, but we do all wear capes.