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14 Vets To Watch in 2014

By Lou Anne Epperley, DVM For Veterinary Practice News

Posted: December 30, 2013, 4:10 p.m. EDT

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is Veterinary Practice News’ annual list of distinguished practitioners and academics to watch in the new year. They are a just a few among many first-rate veterinarians who are poised to make big differences in the profession. These are presented in no particular order.

The way Karen Bradley, DVM, sees it, given the growing number of women veterinarians it’s hard to understand why more of them aren’t helping to steer the profession’s future course.

If the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, then Bradley took it last summer by forming the Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative. 

Its goal is "to support women in seeking and achieving leadership, policy and decision-making positions within all areas of professional veterinary activity,” said Bradley, co-owner of Onion River Animal Hospital in Montpelier, Vt.  She is Vermont’s delegate to the American Veterinary Medical Association House of Delegates, and chair of the AVMA Governance Engagement Team.

"[The goal] is about balance and increasing the voices at the table; to get the message to women that these decisions are being made for them, such as accreditation and welfare issues,” she said. "If they want their opinions out there, they need to step up to the table and voice (them).”

The leadership initiative’s 10-member advisory board includes two men and meets monthly by conference call. Paperwork is in preparation for nonprofit status, she said.

"The group is focusing on data and surveys to document what is unique about our profession with this gender gap,” Bradley said. "Women are over approximately 78 percent of all veterinary school graduates in the country, yet there are only six women veterinary school deans.

"In organized veterinary medicine, there is also a discrepancy. Some state associations have no women on their executive boards, and none of the major veterinary corporations have women on their boards,” she said.

Bradley’s research has taught her that men and women approach things differently, and women respond best to invitation and encouragement.

"They see one of these roles and think, ‘I wonder if I would be good at that,’” she said. "Women are not as natural at self-promotion. As leaders, men think and do things and act differently than women. We need to acknowledge it and get that balance at the table.”

Leaders in organized veterinary medicine have a "shelf life,” Bradley said.

"If some of our more experienced leaders never mentor others to take their place, never step aside and help push others forward, then it has a ceiling effect,” she said. "I fully recognize that when I have served eight years in the AVMA House of Delegates, it is time for me to move on into other roles.”

Bradley said her future personal goal is to be a leader scout.

As for the Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative, Bradley’s ultimate vision is for her organization to become obsolete.

"Our initiative is narrowly focused on the gender gap,” she said. "Ultimately, we’d like to not need to exist. Someday, this could be the Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative and cover all areas of diversity, not just gender,” she said.

"But for now, we want to focus on that huge discrepancy of so many women in the profession, and so few in leadership roles.”

Stic Harris, DVM, MPH
Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, U.S. Department of Defense, Washington, D.C.
Stic Harris’ keen interest in public health has dominated his colorful career so far, and he plans to shine the light on its significance during his tenure as a 2013-2014 American Veterinary Medical Association Future Leader.
He earned his DVM from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, and a Master’s degree in public health at Michigan. Past professional activities include playing professional ice hockey, but the rest of Harris’s time has been occupied with various forms of public health service.
He co-taught the public health elective at his vet school alma mater, worked for the state health departments of Texas and Georgia, and was an AVMA adviser to the U.S. Senate. That led to his current assignment in the health surveillance center’s integrated biosurveillance center. The District of Columbia Veterinary Medical Association nominated Harris to serve as a Future Leader.
"We harp on the need for more public health veterinarians, and public health is called out in the oath we all take, yet no one was representing this crucial area,” he said.

Wesley Bissett, DVM, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, College Station, Texas.
The devastation wrought by Hurricanes Rita and Ike in the early 2000s motivated Dr. Wesley Bissett to spearhead the creation of a medical response team, especially for animals and pet owners.
Now, the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team has the equipment and manpower to provide medical care for search-and-rescue dogs deployed into disasters, and to triage and treat animals that are injured or become ill. The team works hand-in-hand with Texas Task Force 1, its human medical counterpart, and veterinary emergency response is a required rotation for fourth-year students.
Bissett earned his DVM and Ph.D. in microbiology from Texas A&M. He is a food animal veterinary instructor with an interest in environmental health, epidemiology and public health.

Heather Fowler, VMD
Minnesota Department of Health, St. Paul, Minn.
After earning her VMD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Fowler completed the Advanced Professional Masters in Public Health program at Yale on an applied biostatistics and epidemiology track.
Named to the AVMA Future Leaders class of 2013-2014, her next stop is a Ph.D. program in occupational and environmental hygiene at the University of Washington in Seattle, where her research will focus on occupational hazards present in veterinary medicine and the animal agriculture industry.
Fowler said her goal is to protect workers in these fields.

Brandy Duhon, DVM
Fellow, Shelter Medicine
Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, Baton Rouge, La.
Who wouldn’t want to watch Brandy Duhon, DVM? She spays dogs, draws blood and places intravenous catheters in horses’ necks—without any hands.
A 2013 graduate of LSU, Duhon lost both hands and her right heel to complications of meningococcal meningitis at age 13. When the time came, she applied to veterinary school and never looked back.
Apparently, no one else did, either; her missing hands made little difference to her classmates or professors, who expected and found the same work ethic and friendship from Duhon that they did with her colleagues. The only concession made by the university on her behalf was a larger door handle in the third-year classroom.
No modified surgical instruments for this woman. She invents her own methods, using what’s available.
"I use Mathieu needle drivers in my elbow, and I am able to use a normal scalpel handle as well as forceps,” she said. Mathieus are conventional needle drivers with a scissor action, but with palm-held handles that spring open when the ratchet is activated. The face of the blades is grooved to avoid needle slippage.
"Scissors are a little tricky, so I usually get help from my students. With that said, I am still thinking of ways to modify some instruments. It just takes a little time and a lot of thinking out of the box,” Duhon said.
"It is hard to explain how I do blood draws and put in catheters,” she allowed. "To sum it up, I have someone hold off the vein and I hold the syringe or catheter between both my arms, and pray I hit the vein,” she said. "Sometimes it is hard to pull back on large syringes, so I use a butterfly needle when needed.”    

Ben Wileman, DVM, Ph.D.
Epitopix LLC, Willmar, Minn.
His interest in cattle production medicine and food safety have steered Dr. Wileman’s career in veterinary biologics. In September, he was presented the American Association of Bovine Practitioners’ James A. Jarrett Award for Young Leaders at the group’s annual conference in Milwaukee.
Epitopix LLC is a private company that specializes in research and development of veterinary vaccines. The company’s hallmark technology is siderophore receptor and porin (SRP) vaccines, made with a cell-free protein extract. In 2009, Epitopix’s  Escherichia coli bacterial extract became the first federally licensed vaccine against E.coli 0157.
Wileman earned his DVM at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and his Ph.D. in diagnostic medicine and pathobiology at Kansas State University. His research interest is total life cycle management of beef cattle for disease prevention, health and performance, and food safety.

David G. Pugh, DVM, MS
Diplomate, American College of Theriogenologists, American College of Veterinary Nutritionists and American College of Veterinary Microbiologists, Alabama-based consultant, speaker and author
A nationally recognized expert in sheep and goat medicine and theriogenology, Dr. Pugh has worked professorships at the veterinary colleges of Auburn University and the University of Georgia and he has received five university and three national teaching awards.
In 2012, attendees at the Western Veterinary Conference voted Pugh as the Food Animal Continuing Educator of the Year for "expertise, communication skills and outstanding commitment to the veterinary profession.” For five years, he operated a large animal veterinary practice in Atlanta, Ga.
He earned his DVM and an MS in ruminant nutritionfrom the University of Georgia. He pursued post-DVM training in equine nutrition at Virginia Tech and theriogenology at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Upon formation of the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists, Pugh was one of the charter parisitologists tapped to be a diplomate.
His considerable body of publications includes serving as editor and major contributor to the textbook Sheep and Goat Medicine; co-editor of the NRC for Sheep, Goats, Cervids and New World Camelids and contributing author for the 9th and 10th editions of the Merck Veterinary Manual.
He was director of Auburn’s Camelid Research and Teaching Program from 1991-2004 and has consulted for Fort Dodge Animal Health.

Mark A. Mitchell, DVM, Ph.D.
Professor of Veterinary Clinical Medicine
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine
Some guys just never grow up. Dr. Mitchell has turned his fascination with lizards, spiders, rats and fish into a distinguished career as a zoological veterinarian.
He is a frequent speaker at veterinary conferences and is co-author (with Thomas N. Tully Jr., DVM) of The Manual of Exotic Pet Practice.
Mitchell earned his DVM at the University of Illinois and his Ph.D. in clinical epidemiology, with an emphasis on Salmonella species in reptiles, at Louisiana State University. He is a past president of the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians.
A prolific researcher and writer, Mitchell is editor-in-chief for The Journal of Herpetological Medicine and Surgery and is co-editor of The Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine. He’s also a contributor to LafeverVet.com, an online library of exotic medicine videos, articles and client education material.

Wallace Graham, DVM
VCA Oso Creek Animal Hospital, Corpus Christi, Texas
The American Heartworm Society plays a vital role in educating practitioners and the general public about the rapid evolution and spread of heartworm disease in dogs and cats.
As immediate past president, Graham had to grapple with the moving target—and hot topic—of possible strains of the disease becoming resistant to available preventive drugs, and to shepherd acceptance of the need for annual heartworm testing. 
He earned his DVM from Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
The heartworm society was founded during the Heartworm Symposium of 1974 to support scientific study of heartworm disease, inform members of new developments, and promote effective procedures for diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

Donald F. Smith, DVM, Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, N.Y.
Austin O. Hooey Dean, Emeritus and professor of surgery
Dr. Smith is an ardent student of the history and legacy of veterinary medicine. Smith teaches it, makes speeches on it and writes about it.
Moreover, he recognizes history’s value in foreseeing veterinary medicine’s future, including the concept of One Health. Smith’s considerable achievements are like red blood cells under a microscope: too numerous to count. He received the 2013 American Veterinary Medical Association’s President’s Award. He earned his DVM from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, where he was top of his class. 
Before his current stint at Cornell, Smith chaired the surgical sciences department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.

Susan Chadima, DVM
Androscoggin Animal Hospital
Topsham, Maine
For many veterinarians, it’s tough enough to witness ill treatment of animals in this country and be an agent for change, let alone do so in a foreign culture.
Yet that’s exactly what Susan Chadima has been doing in Afghanistan since 2005, when she began working with students and faculty members of Kabul University Veterinary Faculty Animal Health Clinic. 
From that initial trip, Chadima has been back more than 10 times to work toward improving veterinary education, animal health and disease control and prevention.
She earned her DVM from Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and founded Androscoggin Animal Hospital in 1985. She is a past Maine delegate to the American Veterinary Medical Association House of Delegates and was appointed in 2012 to the AVMA’s Task Force on Foreign Veterinary School Accreditation.
Chadima also has chaired the Program for the Assessment of Veterinary Education Equivalence of the American Association of State Veterinary Boards.

Libby Coleman Todd, DVM
Liberty Animal Hospital PC, Birmingham, Ala.
As a graduating senior at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Todd received the Dean’s Pegasus Award as the outstanding graduate and the Gentle Doctor award.
Since then, she has practiced small animal medicine in Birmingham and embarked on a leadership voyage. In 2003, Todd was elected president of the Jefferson County Veterinary Medical Association and was president of the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association in 2010-2011. 
She was selected for the American Veterinary Medical Association’s inaugural Future Leaders class of 2011-2012 and was appointed to the AVMA’s Early Career Development Committee in 2012, created as a networking and support resource for new veterinary graduates.
In her medical practice, Todd pursued specialized training in the field of thanatology, or the study of grief and bereavement, to support her clients facing illness and loss of their pets.

Eleanor Green, DVM
Diplomate, American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, Equine Practice; Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Specialty Internal Medicine
Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, College Station, Texas
Appointed in 2009 as Texas A&M veterinary school’s first female dean, Dr. Green was inducted last fall into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas. She comes by it honestly: in addition to a roundup of veterinary leadership roles throughout her career, she’s been riding and showing horses all her life.
In 1974, Green became the first woman to officiate at a National Intercollegiate Livestock Judging Contest.
Green earned her DVM in 1973 from Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine and entered private mixed-animal practice in Mississippi.
Not long afterward, she joined the founding faculty of Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where her teaching and leadership talent led to stints as department head of Large Animal Clinical Sciences and large animal hospital chief, first for the University of Tennessee and then the University of Florida.
She was the first female president of three national veterinary associations: the American Association of Equine Practitioners, 2008; the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, 1993-95; and the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians in 1995.

Lori Teller, DVM, Diplomate
American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, canine and feline medicine, Meyerland Animal Clinic, Houston, Texas
By day, Lori Teller, DVM, is a private-practice small-animal clinician and extremely active in organized veterinary medicine on the state and national levels. But that’s only half her story.
Inspired by her son, Austin, Dr. Teller was one of the founders and a board trustee for The Gateway Academy in Houston, a high school for students with learning differences and special needs.
"The need hit close to home,” Teller said. "Our son has learning differences, and even in a city the size of Houston, there are many elementary and middle schools available to work with these kids. But the number of high schools was seriously lacking.” 
Existing high schools were geared either toward teens with severe learning issues, such as Down syndrome and severe autism, or those with less serious learning differences who, other than needing classroom modifications, could  handle the multiple activities and social life of typical teens, Teller said.
"There was nothing in the middle, so we identified a niche for teens whose learning differences required classroom modifications as well as a need for coaching the soft skills of life: reading body language, appropriate peer interactions, how to handle a job interview, how to advocate for yourself in the classroom or on a job—things like that,” she said.
"Most of these students go on to community colleges, vocational schools or smaller four-year programs that have strong support for students who need accommodations and help managing their unique learning styles.”
A graduate of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Teller has worked at Meyerland Animal Clinic since she was 12 years old. She is past president of the Harris County and Texas Veterinary Medical Associations, and was a recipient of the state association’s Recent Graduate of the Year Award.
For the American Veterinary Medical Association, Teller serves on the Animal Welfare Committee and is chairman of the Governance Performance Review Committee.
She is the Texas alternate delegate to the AVMA House of Delegates and serves on the Governance Engagement Team. She also is chairman of the board of certification for the American Society of Veterinary Journalists and serves on the board of the Women’s Leadership Development Initiative. 

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