April 5, 2013

A Day in the Life of a GRD Extern

By Zachary Kern

The title is a slight misnomer, given that no two days at GRD are the same, but for students interested in the program, I thought this was a good example of a day showing the breadth of opportunities doing this externship can afford you.

6:30 AM – Woke up.   Hit snooze.

6:38 AM – Woke up again.  Ran with the dog.  Showered, suited up and ate breakfast.

7:45 AM – Caught the bus to Dupont Circle

8:10 AM – Arrived to the GRD office.  Took a few minutes to answer emails and prepare folders to give to congressional staffers.  These simple one-page “asks,” which are issue briefs on topics important to AVMA like the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act (VMLRPEA), the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act (VMMA), and the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act.

8:40 AM – Boarded the Metro heading towards Capitol Hill.

9:30 AM – Met with a veterinarian who is a policy analyst at the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to discuss her role in policy development, her history with the program, and challenges in being an effective leader in government bureaucracy.

10:47 AM – Booked it to the Senate office buildings, barely making it in time to…

11:00 AM – Met with legislative correspondent for Senator Toomey (Rep PA) to discuss VMMA and VMLRPEA.  As it turns out, the staffer’s father is a vet, which made talking about our topics easier than usual.  Sometimes staffers just say “thanks” and send you on your way without even asking any questions.  It’s taken awhile for me not to be discouraged by their apparent lack of enthusiasm, but this meeting reaffirmed my belief!

11:17 AM – Brisk walk to the House office buildings where I got a quick bite to eat before I…

11:30 AM – Met with legislative director for Rep. Dent (Rep PA-15) to discuss VMLRPEA and VMMA.  This one went pretty well too.

11:55 AM – Cautiously weaved through throngs of visitors for the Cherry Blossom Festival while walking to the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. It’s amazing how fast I acclimated to the city and was immediately weary of slow-moving tourists.

12:30 PM – Sat down to lunch with a veterinarian who is a former employee of Heifer International and currently works at USAID as policy analyst.  We discussed the roles of the United States and, more specifically, veterinarians in developing countries in emergency situations.

1:40 PM – Hopped back on the Metro towards Capitol Hill.

2:00 PM – Had coffee with a veterinarian who is a researcher at the Congressional Research Service, housed in the Madison Building of the Library of Congress.  We discussed what exactly CRS does—they’re a non-partisan, apolitical group that serves at the behest of congress to research policy, science and history using the Library of Congress, which is STUNNING inside.  I highly recommend a visit.

3:00 PM – Still talking at CRS, even though my next meeting is supposed to start now.  Eep!

3:11 PM – Arrived late for Beth’s and my guided tour of the U.S. Capitol by one of the current AVMA fellows.  She even showed us a SECRET ROOM, where back in the day for want of proper plumbing in their DC homes, Senators would bathe in the basement of the U.S. Capitol in GIANT stone bathtubs.

5:22 PM – Sprinted (okay, walked quickly) to catch a bus back to Philly from Union Station for the weekend.

Happy weekend everyone!