I’m continuing my posts on interesting people in the veterinary community. Today it’s Kristin Wuellner of the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, class of 2016.
She’s originally from St. Augustine, Fla., and is on the national board of the VBMA.
What drew you to veterinary medicine?
We become veterinarians because we are compassionate, and because we want to perpetuate the strength of the human-animal bond. As much as I love animals, I’m drawn to this profession because of the opportunities to help people through helping their animals, and that’s very special to me.
I love that most people still view their veterinarians as honest, trustworthy and compassionate people. One of my favorite parts of being in veterinary school is sitting next to someone and when they find out more about me, they’ll say “Oh, that’s just wonderful. I love my veterinarian.” Most days, it feels to me like veterinary medicine is the last realm of medicine that is untainted by negativity.
Do you think new veterinarians will face different challenges than in previous generations? If so, what are you doing now to meet those challenges?
As a profession, we recently mourned the loss of an esteemed colleague, Dr. Sophia Yin. This tragedy has brought to light a dark side of veterinary medicine: Too often veterinarians overlook their own well-being for the sake of providing care to their patients.
I don’t think it’s correct to say the burdens of our profession are new, but I do believe that new veterinarians face them in a greater capacity than in previous generations. New veterinarians are stepping into the workplace and immediately feeling overworked, under-appreciated and straddled by student loan debt.
The VBMA began as a means to provide business education, communication skills and leadership qualities with the intention of better preparing students to enter their careers. As a part of the 2015 national board, I think it’s apparent that the work of the VBMA resonates beyond the value of this education. The VBMA equips and provides students with the resources they need to pursue their passions.
I truly believe that by creating competent business-aware students while they’re still in school, we are shaping veterinarians who are better prepared to select a practice to work for that aligns with their core values, manage their student debt appropriately and find mentors who make them feel appreciated. As the ideal end result, these happy and healthy new veterinarians will lead a culture shift towards a happier and healthier profession.
Can you tell us one thing about you that would surprise your future veterinary colleagues?
Growing up in a Florida beach town, I was constantly exposed to amazing wildlife both on the land and in the sea. While most girls love dolphins, I have always loved alligators! In 2011, I had a tremendous opportunity to intern as a reptile keeper at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. It’s the only place in the world that has all 23 species of crocodilians. In my dream job, I would be a veterinarian-pilot and fly into the remote areas of the world to see these reptiles in their natural habitat while helping promote awareness for crocodilian conservation and research.