It’s one of those things. When making a change seems a natural choice. So it is that as Dr. Coates comes in, I segue out. And that’s naturally stressful for everyone involved (stress isn’t always bad, you know). So to make things easier on you all, I thought I’d put some interesting get-to-know-you questions to Dr. C. by way of introduction:

Dr. K: Can you give us a brief run-down of your career? For example, how long have you been in practice? Where did you go to vet school? (And all those fun questions we could read in your bio but prefer to hear in your own words.)

Dr. C: I graduated from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999. I’ve been practicing veterinary medicine — primarily small animal with a little bit of horse work thrown in here and there — ever since. I’ve worked in a variety of practices in Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado, so I have experience with many of the different "faces" of veterinary medicine — rural, urban, referral, primary care, in-clinic, house-call, etc.

Dr. K: When did you know you wanted to be a veterinarian? And how'd you come to that decision?

Dr. C: My story isn’t all that unique. I loved animals as a young girl and was drawn to the sciences, especially biology, in my early education. Veterinary medicine seemed a natural fit. After college I "dabbled" in environmental and animal welfare advocacy for a few years, but eventually returned to my first love.

Dr. K: What's been the toughest day of your career, and is there one patient that, above all others, you'll never forget?

Dr. C: I’m going to combine these two questions because one story immediately comes to mind that pertains to both. Duffy was an elderly Sheltie owned by a charming woman, I’ll call her Ann. Ann, Duffy and I had been through a lot together by the time I discovered that Duffy was going into kidney failure. To make this diagnosis even more difficult, Ann’s husband, a wonderful man whom I was also close to, had died just weeks before. Ann flat out told me that she could not bear to lose her dog so soon after her husband.

We managed to keep Duffy going — quite well, actually — for several months, but his condition eventually started to decline. Ann was traveling to visit her children, and Duffy was boarding/hospitalized at my clinic. I was about to leave for the night when I checked in on Duffy one last time. Something about the way he looked just made me think, "Tonight’s the night. When I come in tomorrow, he’ll be dead in his cage."

I had no way of getting in touch with Ann (this was before cell phones were ubiquitous), so I made the decision to bring Duffy home with me. I knew Ann didn’t want heroic measures at this point, just comfort care, but I couldn’t justify euthanasia without first speaking to her. Duffy died peacefully beside my bed that night.

I spoke to Ann the next morning — one of the hardest calls I’ve ever had to make. She was heartbroken, but comforted by the fact that Duffy hadn’t been alone.

Dr. K: What are the most pressing issues in veterinary medicine today?

Dr. C: I think the biggest problem facing most veterinarians and pet owners today is figuring out how to deal with the costs associated with the rapid advancement of veterinary medicine. In my opinion, veterinarians need to become better communicators so they can effectively deal with clients’ differing expectations and financial situations, while still promoting the well-being of their patients.

Dr. K: If you could change one thing about veterinary medicine in 2011, what would it be?

Dr. C: Scheduling. I know, it sounds completely mundane, but this is one of the aspects of being in practice that I find most frustrating and that in my opinion leads to the burn out of many good veterinarians. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about … the non-emergency, emergencies that come in at closing time, the Monday that’s completely crazy followed by the Tuesday that leaves you twiddling your thumbs. If some practice management guru out there could come up with a way to "smooth out" the schedule without pissing off clients and compromising patient care, they’d make millions.

Dr. K: What is it about blogging that makes you want to do it every single day?

Dr. C: I have enjoyed writing my weekly "cat" blog on the Daily Vet and the other series that I’ve been involved in, but there’s been many a time when I’ve run into an interesting topic that doesn’t fit neatly into the subject matter at hand.  Fully Vetted will give me the opportunity to more fully explore the fascinating, frustrating, and inspiring world of veterinary medicine.


Next up, questions for Dr. Khuly from Dr. Coates. Stay tuned for next week's edition along these lines.

Dr. Patty Khuly

Pic of the day: Dr. Jen and Keelor

dr. jennifer coates, veterinary medicine. fully vetted, daily vet, animal doctor, laser eye cat