Debbie Reed

Hokpinsville, KY, US
Field of Work 
**HEALTH & MEDICINE**
Company 
Breathitt Veterinary Center/Murray State University
Job Title or "Student" 
Case Coordinator
Education 
Auburn University
Degree 
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Education Level 
PhD
Profile Biography 
I started life as a farm girl, and still see the world through those eyes. I wanted to be a farmer, but never developed the skills necessary to drive machinery in a straight line, nor stay awake through long hours of operating farm equipment. Veterinary Medicine was my second choice, and as a child of the 1970's, it was still radical. I was set to apply to Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine and decided that I was too tired of school to go through the four year program. I began a Masters in Agriculture program at WKU (mostly because I still hadn't decided what I wanted to be when I grew up) and determined that becoming a veterinarian was the only thing that excited me. I applied to Auburn and was accepted for the class beginning in the fall of 1983. Veterinary school was a defining chapter in my life. For the first time I was in the presence of other students who had the same goals as I, were as smart or smarter than I, and many of whom had led lives that I could not imagine. For four years we held each other up and also punctured a few egos along the way.

Moving into the working world was a splash of cold water. I found it difficult to find a job. Veterinarians in the 1980's were still concerned that clients would not accept a female to do food animal work. I worked at one practice for about 6 months and was "let go" because the wife of the veterinarian didn't like it when the clients wanted to talk to me instead of her. So I decided that I would start a practice and found a county in Southeastern Kentucky in what is now called an underserved area. I determined that I had sufficient funds to remain for six months if no one ever came in the door of my practice. My practice was open for 18 years and unless I refused to answer the telephone, was hospitalized or out of town, I always had work. I learned that clients don't care if you are female if you can provide the veterinary services they require.

During those 18 years I married, had two children of my own and dealt with several employees, crazy clients and implacable animals. My practice was mixed, meaning that I worked on animals of all species, although I drew the line at snakes. Because there were lots of locals who fought chickens, I also did not work on avian athletes. I renovated two buildings for a clinic and finally built a free standing clinic.
In 2005, I chanced upon an advertisement for a job at the Breathitt Veterinary Center in Hopkinsville, KY. The case coordinator position involved answering questions from veterinarians, public relations and animal owner interactions as well as some teaching responsibilities. I closed my clinic at the end of 2005 and moved to Western Kentucky. This job uses all the skills and knowledge that I gained as a private practitioner, as well as information from a degree I have recently earned from WKU, Master of Public Health.

My advice to any young people, male or female, aspiring to become a veterinarian, is to work hard, but don't forget to become a well-rounded person. Many animal owners, especially farmers, are interested in conversing with their veterinarian about their animals as well as about the world around them. Develop people skills in addition to medical skills. Learn how to talk to people of all ages, socioeconomic levels and educational levels. Develop compassion about their lot in life as well as a passion for working to improve their situation. This will not only make your journey as a veterinarian more fun, it will make you a better veterinarian.
Interests 
Working outdoors, Reading
Race & Ethnicity 
Other
Level of Participation 
Field trip participation, In-school visit
My Experience 
I have been a Role Model many times.
Availability 
Evenings, Weekdays
Resources 
Field trip hosting

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