It’s a given that everyone who gets a slot in one of our veterinary schools and colleges is in elite company, a person who against long odds has triumphed over all the challenges put between the dream of acceptance and the reality. But in in the case of David Dean Andrews Jr. of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University, the dedication he showed to being a future veterinarian took him over another difficult hurdle after he started the program. He left veterinary school the first time for grades, but then instead of quitting he decided to get a Master’s degree and try again. He was accepted once more and will graduate with the class of 2017. Well done, David!
And now, on to the “Three Questions for … ”
What drew you to veterinary medicine?
I don’t think this is ever a simple question. Most of the time it is a series of life events that leads someone down this path. I really do not know what leads me down the path to veterinary medicine. My mother tells me I have always had a passion for animals growing up. She said she found me in the pasture when I was about 10 years old. I was walking with the cattle as if I were part of the herd.
I remember growing up wanting to be a “double doctor” (human and animal doctor both), owning a clinic and seeing both humans and their pets. Around late middle school or early high school, I made up my mind to be a veterinarian. I wanted to become a small animal surgeon. Now, I want to be a laboratory animal veterinarian who focuses on translational medicine. Translational medicine is the step in animal research before going to the human side of medicine. Here I have the opportunity to live out my dream of helping both humans and animals alike.
Do you think new veterinarians will face different challenges than in previous generations, and if so, what are you doing now to meet those challenges?
I think the challenge that new veterinarians will face that is different than previous generations is the invention of “Dr. Google”. Even though a lot of good information can be posted on the internet, some people without a veterinary degree may not be able to distinguish between the good and the erroneous information presented. It has been said that veterinarians see their patients 3-4 days later than the time before people using “Dr. Google”. Additionally, 40% of pet owners first consult “Dr. Google” before visiting the veterinarian, and approximately 75% of pet owners consult with “Dr. Google” overall.
There is no replacement for the veterinary school education. However, referring clients to approved websites can help them understand a disease or its process in a deeper detail. The same can be done for behavior, nutrition, training and medical.
Can you tell us one thing about you that would surprise your future veterinary colleagues?
I was accepted into the veterinary school curriculum twice. I was originally accepted into the program with the Class of 2013 and finished my first year. However, due to academic deficiencies (having my first of three children and multitude of other problems), I was unable to make the cut for grades.
It was recommended to me to get a master’s degree to prove myself academically. In the first year of the master program, I received a 4.0 GPA and graduated with only a few B’s. I reapplied to the veterinary curriculum with the general public and was accepted back into the program with the Class of 2017.
Since then, I have had two more kids, and I am making the academic cut. I am currently a fourth-year veterinary school student and have externships set up with Johns Hopkins, Emory University, University of Washington, Vanderbilt University, Wake Forest University and the University of Michigan. My ultimate goal is to become a board-certified ACLAM veterinarian with the focus on translational medicine.
Thank, David! I think I have two more veterinary student to feature (which I’ll do in the next couple of weeks!), then the 2015-16 academic year is a wrap!