October 3, 2017

701 meets 0701

By Jacob Froehlich, PhD

You’ve probably heard the quote “it’s the little things.” Even in the Nation’s not-so-small capital of Washington, D.C., that phrase has rung true with me over the last month. As I prepare to depart D.C., trading in my suit and tie for coveralls and stethoscope, I’d like to thank several Washingtonians, Virginians, and Marylanders for their “it’s the little things” moments over the last month.

Before coming to D.C., I had often searched for veterinary jobs on the well-known USAJOBS.GOV website. I quickly noticed that putting “veterinary” or “veterinarian” or “VMO (veterinary medical officer)” in the search bar yielded differing results. I was worried that I was missing jobs because I wasn’t entering the right search terms. It turns out that all I really needed was the “code” for veterinarian in the federal government: 0701. This 701 (the area code for North Dakota telephone numbers) boy just needed that 0701, and I was set! Thank you to Dr Patricia Brown of the NIH for giving me this “it’s the little things” tip.

As I worked in basic aquaculture research before deciding to enroll in veterinary school, I have often thought about marrying my veterinary degree to my interest in growing-up fish and other seafood species. While veterinary medicine in the realm of fishes, bivalves, and crustaceans has been sincerely lacking, I must thank Dr Caird Rexroad of USDA-ARS for his “it’s the little things” tip-off to two companies (in Maine of all places, just up the road from my home in Massachusetts) that are investing heavily in aquaculture health! With just four words, new doors were opened to me.

To the United States Capitol Police at the south entrance to Cannon House Office building: thank you for making walking through the metal detector a tad more fun with our discussion of brachycephalic airway syndrome in bulldogs. That’s right – I had a discussion about BAS with two members of the fine USCP! I very much appreciate this “it’s the little things” moment.

Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL-3), your “it’s the little things” offer of some Florida orange juice at the beginning of our meeting was just what I needed after running around D.C. in the rather warm weather in a suit. Good ol’ OJ never tasted so good!

To Sen Edward Markey (D-MA)’s staffer who wrote me such a thoughtful email following my meeting with him, I must say it is the best feeling in the world, despite however “it’s the little things” it may feel, to know that a staffer has taken such an interest in the plight of veterinary students and their ever-growing debt.

I often like to take walks after dinner. I can tell you that no walk in my 30 year history of walks can compete with my stroll following dinner at the Old Ebbitt Grill. Walking just one block from the restaurant, I was able to witness the White House at night. When I posted that photograph to Instagram, I wrote “no caption needed,” and, boy, was that ever true. An after-dinner breath of fresh air puts winds in your sails when you pass by the White House, in all its ambiance, on that jaunt. Truly, “it’s the little things.”701

Lastly, but most definitely not least, I must thank the AVMA Governmental Relations Staff (GRD) for their incredible support, expertise, and hospitality over the last month. Without you all – Gina, Mark, Lauren, Jamae, Cat, Ashley, Kent, and Patty – this extraordinary 30 days would not have been possible. I cannot even begin to enumerate the “little things” you all have done for me during my September stay in Washington, D.C.

As I close my last blog post as an AVMA veterinary student extern, I’d like to share a quote written by one of the members of the GRD staff in a book I received as a going-away gift.

What you leave behind is not what is engrave in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others. – Pericles 

I know I left a very limited physical mark on this town. I cannot compete with the stone monuments, the Roman column buildings, and aura of history that make Washington, D.C., the city that it is. the But the reverse is not true. This metropolis, with its Congressional staffers, Members of Congress, executive branch veterinarians and scientists, and NGO DVM/VMDs and professionals, has left a very real mark on me. Being in Washington, D.C., one can easily get lost in the hubbub of this city. However, it was the “little things” that made me feel welcome and a very real part of this American experience, that led me to believe that my story and my aspirations were woven into the tapestry that makes Washington, D.C., a city like no other.

Washington, D.C., and AVMA – thank you.