Three questions for … NCSU CVM’s Courtney Whelan

This is the busiest time of year for me and for the rest of the veterinary relations team at Nationwide, and this year is no exception. I started the month with a visit to the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine. Then, I was off to Orlando, to the VetPartners meeting, the Nationwide-sponsored reception for the Veterinary Business Management Association — and then to the North American Veterinary Community conference.

At NAVC, we formally dropped the VPI “co-branding” on our booths, and re-introduced ourselves to the veterinary community as Nationwide. With that, we talked about Whole Pet With Wellness (our new plan that sets a new standard for pet health insurance, with 90% coverage of almost everything!!) to the NAVC conference attendees, along with presenting the first of two updates in 2016 of our Nationwide | Purdue Veterinary Price index.

IMG_1198Almost as soon as I arrived home to Southern California, I was in the air again. I lectured at the Colorado State University  College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, along with Veterinary Management Consultation principals Mark Opperman and Sheila Grosdidier.  Before I left I visited our Denver offices, then flew home and visited the College of Veterinary Medicine at the Western University of Health Sciences.

My plans for this weekend? To stay in one place!

We’re now in the gap between two of the biggest veterinary conferences in the world — NAVC and WVC. In our booth at WVC, we’ll again be talking about Whole Pet With Wellness and our Veterinary Price Index, and we’ll again be conducting our popular giveaways. But at Western we’ve added one extra: Jack Hanna will be our booth! His visit to our Southern California offices last year was an exciting surprise for all, and I know WVC attendees will also be excited to meet him. We’ll be presenting our Veterinary Price Index in regular sessions for conference attendees as well.

Today I’m taking a breath, catching up on meetings and e-mails, and getting our “Three Questions for …” series well-established for 2016 with the first of our veterinary student profiles. Courtney M. Whelan attends North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine (class of 2018). She’s also a member of the NCSU VBMA chapter. Here’s what’s on her mind as she’s back at the NCSU CVM for the new year:

What drew you to veterinary medicine?

Growing up with many cats and dogs, I really enjoyed going to the veterinarian with my mom. Dr. K, our family vet, would take the time to speak with me about our pets, how special he or she was, and how important it was for me to take special care of them. This sparked my initial interest in veterinary medicine, and I have wanted to be a veterinarian for as long as I can remember.

My passion for animals from an early age in combination with my love of math and science has drawn me to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. It strengthened over the years as I worked with a variety of species in various settings including private practice, research, and wildlife sanctuaries. Every day, I am exposed more and more, to how vast the veterinary profession is.  I am amazed by the opportunities present within the field. I am delighted to contribute and to be of service to endless species, including humans through the special bonds they have with their animals.

NCSUCourt2Do you think new veterinarians will face different challenges than in previous generations?  And if so, what are you doing now to meet those challenges?

The world is continuously growing and changing, which means the veterinary field is as well. I would say a difficult challenge for newer generations is helping to change the focus of people’s perceptions of what a veterinarian is and how the profession has changed over the years.

The knowledge that is now known about each individual species is incredible and so profound; we have had huge advances and are implementing much of what is done in the human medical field into the veterinary medical field, including the tests we perform, the surgical procedures being offered, and the medical equipment being used. Veterinarians cover a multitude of areas including small animal, large animal, exotics, food animal, laboratory medicine, marine animal, public health —  and the list continues.

Often, veterinarians are looked upon as being “in it for the money,” but what the public does not always recognize is the intensive medical training we have had as veterinarians and the passion that drove us to become veterinarians in the beginning. It is our responsibility to advise, educate, and provide the best options to our clients and their animals. What we recommend is what we believe to be best for not only the animal, but all individuals involved. I am striving to expand my knowledge in the areas of veterinary medicine where I have had the least experience and strengthen my skill set; I am doing so by participating in various clubs and organizations through school. This knowledge will help me to better educate and inform the public and potentially reduce any negative perceptions that exist towards veterinarians.

Another challenging topic that is not often addressed is business management. Having good business  skill is important to any role veterinarians fulfill. Much of my veterinary experience is in small animal private practice. A common word of advice from these doctors was to seek out any business training available as that was one area they wished they had more knowledge. As veterinary students, our curriculum covers this topic very little. I feel there is an increasing demand and trend in veterinary schools to expose students to business management skills, and this is important because being a veterinarian is much more than just being a good problem solver. I am a grateful member of Veterinary Business Management Association (VBMA) and feel this is a very valuable addition to my veterinary career.

What is one thing that would surprise your future veterinary colleagues?

I am a true Floridian and my first veterinary school interview was the first time I ever saw snow!


Thank you, Courtney! I have two more students ready to participate in our “Three Questions for …” series, along with some established veterinary professionals. I promise some interesting reading ahead!!