AAV member since:
What was the first bird job you ever had?
I worked on a loon mortality research project with Dr. Mark Pokras at the Tufts Wildlife Clinic. Loons from all over northern New England were brought to Tufts to determine why they died. I helped to perform necropsies, compile data, and write up the results. The study found that lead poisoning from swallowing fishing sinkers was the major cause of death of otherwise healthy loons.
Most memorable AAV experience or contribution
I presented two case report posters at AAV conferences, one on lockjaw caused by Bordetella avium in a cockatiel, and the other on a Candida keratitis in a lovebird. The process of writing up these cases and creating the posters was a great experience.
What is your favorite avian species and why?
I have had many favorite birds over the past 20 years of working as an avian veterinarian. Lately I am really enjoying working with pet chickens. I have chickens of my own, and they are wonderful and comical birds. Seeing them as patients is an interesting combination of individual and flock health.
What was the last interesting avian medical or surgical issue you dealt with in your work?
I have seen a number of otherwise healthy hens present with acute stroke-like symptoms. While the cause of the neurologic injuries were never determined, we were able to rehabilitate them back to being happy hens. I have one of them as a pet, and her quirkiness makes me smile every day.
Best benefits of AAV membership?
The Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery and the annual conferences are both great educational resources. Years back I was a reviewer for JAMS and I enjoyed that quite a bit. Last year I joined the AAV's Education Committee and am helping them create informative handouts for clients. Offering bird owners an alternative to all the misinformation the internet has to offer is a very worthwhile endeavor!
If you had not chosen your present career, what would you be doing?
I was pre-med in college and intended to go into human medicine. I suppose that would have been my alternate career, but being a veterinarian is way more fun!
What was your favorite class or activity in vet school/vet tech school/college?
I went into veterinary school wanting to specialize in birds. While there I took every avian class my school had to offer, but there weren't many of them in 1994. My real avian medicine education has come from mentors, colleagues, journals, conferences, and VIN.
Describe an anecdote that would be of interest to your colleagues
A few months into my first veterinary job I received a phone call from one of the practice's most lucrative dog and cat clients. She wanted to know why her chicken had died. When I asked her to bring the chicken in so I could do a necropsy she said oh no she had buried it 3 days ago. When I asked what symptoms it was displaying prior to death she said that it had not been moving around much. She was truly annoyed with me when I couldn't give her a satisfactory answer. A fitting introduction to life as a bird vet! :-)
Do you have a favorite tip or trick for clinical avian practice that you can share with AAV members?
Find veterinary technicians interested in exotic practice, train them well, and treat them like gold. They are the best assets you will ever have!
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