When our Nationwide® team visits our schools and colleges of veterinary medicine, we look for a student to feature as part of our “Three Questions for …” series. So it was that when I was visit the School of Veterinary Medicine at Louisiana State University, I met Walt Gandy.
Even without his LSU-colored shirts, he stands out among his peers, both as an older student and as a veteran. I am delighted to bring introduce him to you!
What drew you to veterinary medicine?
It wasn’t until I had served many years in the Army that I realized I wanted to be a veterinarian. It was like a calling. I just realized one day before I retired that I was supposed to be a veterinarian. I know that sounds crazy but that is the way it happened. Everything worked out. I did all those prerequisites at age 47, took the GRE and got accepted.
I want to have a positive and improving effect on the world. I like animals and I love helping others feel better, but what I love about veterinary medicine is the mystery and science involved.
You really have to be smart and tuned in to be good veterinarian. It is like being a detective. Here is a patient in front of you and literally anything can be wrong with the animal. It is our job to solve the problem in such a way that the patient is in a better state when we are done and the owner is better educated and in agreement with our treatment.
There are the standard challenges that we all recognize such as student loan debt and the number of veterinarians. I believe a large challenge will be resisting changing who and what we are.
There is an evolving train of thought that veterinarians must see more patients per day, faster room turnover, higher profit. Although I acknowledge that there can be some improvement in our speed, we must not allow speed to become our metric for success.
This model is used in human medicine, and it is one of the biggest complaints people have against their provider. People want to be seen and heard. I believe that most veterinarians want the best outcome for their patients and their clients, but more importantly the public believes veterinarians have great compassion.
I believe clients will go to the veterinarian who they believe cares. Our challenge will be to improve our bottom line without turning our practices in to quick-oil-change operations.
Can you tell us one thing about you that would surprise your future veterinary colleagues?
I served 21 years in the U.S. Army before I applied to veterinary school. What may surprise people is the cultural experiences I had while serving. I have lived or served in 15 countries and worked with people from all walks of life and cultures. I believe this gives me a good starting point for working with clients and understanding their needs.
I think so, too. Thanks, Walt!