September 26, 2012

Keeping An Open Mind

By Dana Koch

This week Kristin (my fellow extern) and I made a visit to the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), which is a branch of the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA).   The CVM regulates the manufacture and distribution of food additives and drugs that will be given to animals. This can include food additives, drugs for companion animals and the regulation of some flea and tick products for animals.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the other flea and tick products.  The CVM does not regulate vaccines for animals, which is the responsibility of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  The FDA employs about 140 veterinarians who work throughout the seven centers and two offices of the FDA.  Keeping up with all the acronyms I have learned in the last few weeks can be a job in itself!

Our visit to the CVM

Kristin and I had the opportunity to meet several veterinarians employed by the CVM that have various job responsibilities, including Dr. Bettye Walters, Policy Analyst of International Programs.  As part of her job, Dr. Walters travels the globe holding workshops and communicating with drug administration agencies in other countries.  Dr. Stamper, Management Analyst and part of the Communications Staff discussed with us her significant role of fielding specific questions directed to the CVM and her amazing researching abilities to come up with answers and solutions to all the problems. We also had the fortunate pleasure to meet Dr. Herring and Dr. Melluso, a husband and wife team of CVM veterinarians that have very different roles within the FDA.  Dr. Herring is in the Office of Surveillance and Compliance and spoke to us briefly about the complicated process of drug approval.  Additionally, Dr. Herring still works in laboratory animal medicine and spends several days a week at another research facility.  Dr. Melluso, a former racehorse veterinarian, currently holds the position of Consumer Safety Officer on the Policy and Regulations Staff.  It was interesting to hear about his career path and his current role in CVM.

My partner in crime Kristin

We even had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Bernadette Dunham, the Director of CVM and one of the most enthusiastic and encouraging veterinarians I have ever encountered.  She discussed with us her diversified background from attaining a PhD to working in laboratory animal medicine and teaching pharmacology.  She was also director of the AVMA for many years.  She told us that veterinary medicine is a wonderful field to explore a variety of  interests and it is important to maintain an open mind to new experiences.  After my visit to the CVM of the FDA I am even more open-minded about the possibilities for a future in veterinary medicine.  Now if I can only get through the next seven and a half months and the national boards exam…