April 14, 2015

Lessons from APHIS

By Elizabeth Francis

At this point I’ve been in DC about two weeks, and am settling into a little routine- or at least getting used to the lack thereof. Congress was on recess, so getting started has been a little bit slow, but it’s given me a good chance to meet a lot of vets around town and get some exploring done. DC is BEAUTIFUL right now- the cherry trees are blooming, along with what seems like every other flower. It is a great time to be here!

Last Wednesday however the weather was gross (raining in the 50’s), and so I was glad to be tucked up inside all day at USDA- APHIS. I met with 11 different veterinarians there, who are involved in all kinds of interesting things! I met with people who helped regulate the import and export of animals- which is apparently much more complicated than you would think. However when you spend time working on importing exotic species for zoos you are rewarded with cute pictures of their offspring later, so it’s not entirely thankless. I also met with vets who were involved with emergency response and preparedness, tracability of diseases (such as brucellosis and tuberculosis), BSE management, scrapie eradication, and more! The vets had landed in government work for a lot of different reasons, but all seemed really happy to be there.

The vets of APHIS are very passionate people, and gave me amazing advice as a student and as a young doctor. Many of them told me to discover what I was passionate about, and to do what I love. It’s hard to convey in text how moving and honestly emotional it was to hear these vets talk about finding their passion in life and encourage me to find my own. So get out there, young doctors! Discover what excites you and move forward with your dreams! And most importantly- remember that it’s people that matter in the long run.