September 28, 2017

Searching For Something Different

By Derecka Alexander

Derecka 3“Stay true to yourself and keep your mind open”

This is the advice Dr. Erin Casey gave me as we talked about her path to veterinary medicine. Like me, Dr. Casey went through vet school knowing she wanted to work in something other than clinical practice and research, but wasn’t quite sure what that different thing would be. It’s very hard to understand how to search for something different when majority of the options presented to you are internships and/or private practice.


As an undergraduate, Dr. Casey performed research that focused on the study of salamanders. This experience opened the door to her first research job. She liked what she was doing and didn’t mind the perks of traveling, however,  she quickly realized she would need another degree to advance her career. Dr. Casey said she liked what she could do with a DVM compared to PhD. She understood how pursuing a DVM would provide her with the diagnostic experience employers want, as well as the clinical experience that draws upon understanding how to use technical skills to cater a treatment plan to a particular patient.


Although vet school was competitive and stressful for her, she never stopped searching for a veterinary career tailored to her liking. Dr. Casey told me how the AVMA GRD externship opened up her eyes to that different thing she was looking for. She really enjoyed going to the One Health meetings and networking with different vets in the D.C. area.


Staying true to herself, she decided to apply for the AAAS Fellowship and landed a position as a veterinarian for the Department of State. Dr. Casey spent almost two years working in the executive branch and enjoyed it, especially when opportunities like traveling to West Africa for the Ebola outbreak were presented to her #publichealthvet. For almost two years, Dr. Casey enjoyed her job and had the chance to travel to West Africa during the Ebola outbreak. However, the bureaucracy of government can put a damper on any government employee’s parade.


As her fellowship was coming to an end, Dr. Casey stayed on the non-traditional path and opted for a job that provided her with more autonomy than the bureaucracy of federal work. Currently, she works as a field veterinarian for Boehringer Ingelheim. Her job duties include educating vets in her region on products and regulations pertinent to veterinary practice. Her everyday duties vary from day to day and keeps her interested versus the usual twenty minutes spent working up a patient while educating a client throughout an eight hour workday.


Although it was a brief phone call, I really enjoyed getting to know Dr. Casey. It was nice to know that there are vets out there who entered vet school feeling like me, longing for something different. The AAAS program provided Dr. Casey with a lot of networking opportunities and helped her make an easy transition from government work to corporate life. Education, networking, and staying true to herself is what led Dr. Casey to the vet med career she has now.  It’s fascinating knowing that she is very happy about her decisions and open to what the future has in store. Since I think Dr. Casey is cool, I would like to conclude with a quote from the Notorious B.I.G. “Stay far from timid/ Only make moves when your heart’s in it/ And live in the phrase ‘sky’s the limit’.”