Three questions for … VA-MD’s Cecelia K. Harmon (2023)

Cecelia K. Harmon, student, Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2023

We’re going to change things up a little. Usually, the students we feature are chosen following a veterinary school or college visit by one of our field veterinarians. But of course, our field veterinarians are staying close to home just like everyone else, so the in-person visits are out for now.

But we’re nothing if not adaptive. That’s why today we’re featuring Cecelia K. Harmon of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine (Class of 2023). Cecelia really knocked our revenue exercise out of the park, as the saying goes.

Since most agree the COVID-19 pandemic is going to have a long-term effect on us all, we added a question about it. Cecelia is the first to answer it!

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

Ever since I could remember, I have wanted to be a veterinarian. I took this goal very seriously and poured my childhood into veterinary-related television shows, books, and anything else I could get my hands on. I treated veterinarians as if they were celebrities and felt starstruck when I had the opportunity to be around one. Even when I was job-shadowing at clinics before vet school, I was sometimes nervous to ask the veterinarians questions because I did not want to waste their time, which seemed so much more important than my own.

For years, I had put veterinarians up on an unattainable pedestal, and I was afraid that when I got to vet school, my new classmates would already be at that level of perceived veterinary perfection and would be so much more professional, intelligent, or have more experience than I do.

However, after starting vet school, I realized very quickly that they were all normal people, like me, people who enjoy superhero movies and have strong opinions on pizza toppings. It was so humbling to be welcomed into a supportive community of amazing people who all share a dedication to animals, others, and the veterinary profession.

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

With pets being increasingly viewed as members of the family, clients want to take more of an active role in the care of their animal. Clients are using the internet to figure out their pets’ ailments before they call the clinic and are ordering their own preventives. This does not just apply to the companion animal sector; technology is making great advancements at many farms, affecting how we diagnose and treat production animals.

To embrace this shift, I think there is going to be an increase in client communication, education, and new veterinary services, such as telemedicine. While I believe that veterinary schools are doing a great job of ensuring that new graduates are prepared for these things, I have decided to supplement this by attending lectures through the Veterinary Business Management Association.

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

Cecelia K. Harmon, student, Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2023While our field has always shown to be adaptable, this pandemic has showcased the true resilience of veterinary medicine all across the globe. Veterinarians and veterinary technicians have stopped at nothing to make sure that animals are receiving the essential care they need. They have adjusted protocols to ensure that the safety of the veterinary team and the clients.

Veterinary students and educators have not missed a beat either, quickly adapting to make vet school “Zoom” friendly. My cohorts and I have spent the last few weeks watching video lectures, organizing online study groups, attending virtual rounds, participating in wellness projects, and I have even had online Bible studies with the Christian Veterinary Fellowship!

While I think that everyone is devastated by the loss of human life in this, we are persevering to continue to uphold our end of public health through these uncertain times.

Thank you, Cecelia!

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