Three questions for … Kylie Watson, Lincoln Memorial

Vet Student Kylie Watson, in scrubs standing in front of a field/fence in the sun.

Continuing our series on features on veterinary students, we bring you Kylie Watson, of the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine (Class of 2023). Kylie was chosen by Nationwide field veterinarian Dr. Jack Perkins.

Will you please share something unexpected you discovered on your path into to veterinary medicine?

A huge discovery was simply answering, “what is veterinary medicine?!” When I first got started in this profession, I never knew how many opportunities and careers were available, or the number of doors that would be opened as a veterinarian. While I had a minimal understanding of what vet med really was when I first started, I can confidently say that I am honored to be a part of this profession, and so excited for my future and all the opportunities!

However, the biggest and most unexpected discovery was the support I would receive from my veterinary colleagues. I am surrounded by individuals who are constantly cheering me on, congratulating my success, giving constructive feedback, offering their connections for my benefit, and providing physical and emotional support. During my time in this profession so far, I have met so many people willing to dedicate their time and knowledge to help me achieve success as a veterinarian. Being in veterinary school or working in this profession is no easy task, but being surrounded by individuals who are genuinely rooting for your success or offering their support makes up for a lot of those difficult days.  Even more rewarding,  I get to provide support and encouragement to other veterinary professionals, too.

What is your vision for the future of veterinary medicine and how does it influence the way you’re preparing?

Vet student Kylie Watson examining a German shepherd dogI want to reach  a place in which veterinary medicine gains the recognition and respect that it deserves. I truly believe that issue plays a part in the well-being of veterinary professionals in practice. We can’t control individuals’ opinions of vet med, but we as veterinarians can show that veterinary medicine is vital to the success of society. Veterinarians are uniquely qualified to fulfill a variety of roles in our society, and contribute significantly to the One Health movement. My hope is that people will get a better understanding and appreciation for veterinarians beyond the exam room.

I think we can expand the public’s outlook on veterinary medicine by first improving ourselves as veterinarians and professionals. Developing our communication skills, empathy, marketing, entrepreneurship, and leadership, we can better equip ourselves as veterinarians to enter society. If we have more competent and confident veterinarians, we can advance the veterinary industry. By empowering future veterinarians, we will be able to impact society positively through our work, expand the public’s understanding and appreciation for vet med, and with that, the veterinary industry can finally achieve the recognition and respect it deserves.

While in veterinary school, I’ve taken on roles I believe will contribute to my future success not only as a doctor, but alsoas  a professional and a leader. Serving as a SAVMA delegate has challenged me to represent a diverse population of individuals and vote for the best outcome. As a Hill’s representative, I gain experience with interpersonal communication to resolve issues with orders, spend time effectively educating about diets offered, and improve my marketing strategies. With the time I spend as an active VBMA member and part of the executive board, I am constantly developing relationships through networking, exploring entrepreneurship ideas, and expanding my understanding of professionalism and management. As a dual degree DVM/MPH student, I am striving  to understand and contribute to the role of a veterinarian in public health. Through each of these positions, I am challenging myself to do more, experience more, and be more so I can contribute to advancing this profession. I believe that if future veterinarians can enter the workforce more confident, competent, and empowered, we can truly advance veterinary medicine.

Looking for the silver lining, what is one positive thing that you think our profession can take from the COVID-19 pandemic so far?

I sometimes find it difficult to acknowledge any silver lining, because of the number of lives lost and people affected. However, it would be naïve of me to ignore that this time of hardship has revealed areas in which veterinary medicine can improve and has since improved. The lessons learned and benefits gained span across the entire industry, including veterinary schools, veterinary practices, public health sectors, veterinary technologies, and so forth. In the stress and adversity that has come with COVID-19, our veterinary professionals recognized the issues, adapted to the situation, and will continue to learn and prevail.

Highlighting on one thing that our profession can take from the COVID-19 pandemic so far, is the implementation of telehealth into veterinary hospitals. Having done previous research in veterinary telehealth, I was familiar with the lack of telehealth knowledge and utilization within the veterinary industry. But with the constant technological advancements surrounding us, it was just a matter of time before the veterinary industry needed to use telehealth services for their benefit and to meet the needs of the client’s expectation.

COVID-19  forced this industry to adjust how we approach and conduct vet med. I think that having to adopt telehealth on the fly will change the future. Telehealth can increase access to care for so many patients and clients, and I am excited to see how the veterinary industry will advance in this area.

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Thanks Kylie and Dr. Perkins!