The ACVO Diplomate Spotlight honors Active or Emeritus Diplomates in the profession who are leaders in their field, are in good standing with the ACVO and have an interesting story to share. Please submit your nomination for this feature to the ACVO office for consideration.
I am such a planner, but becoming a professor of veterinary ophthalmology was probably one of the least scripted aspects of my life. I went into veterinary medicine, because I wanted to practice medicine, but not on humans. When I was in veterinary school I knew that I wanted to work on all species, except horses. But I had no idea how to do really do that. Luckily my professors at the University of Tennessee encouraged me to do an internship in small animal even though I wasn’t planning to specialize. Once into my internship at North Carolina State University I realized I wanted to do medicine and surgery on all species, except maybe horses. At that point I kind of backed into doing veterinary ophthalmology as I would be able to practice medicine and surgery on all species. On the first day of my residency at the University of Florida, a horse with a stromal abscess came in on emergency, and Dennis Brooks told me to go sedate and block the horse and come back with my diagnosis. I thought, “I haven’t touched a horse in 3 years; I don't remember how to sedate a horse, and I have never blocked one!” But with mentors like Kirk Gelatt, Dennis Brooks and Patty Smith I quickly learned to embrace all of aspects of veterinary ophthalmology.
The end of my 2 year residency came quickly, and I had not had time to think about what I would do when I finished. I had just assumed I would go into practice, until my students cornered me and told me that I should keep teaching. I had never thought about it even though my dad, mom, and sister were all teachers. Then out of the blue, DJ Krahwinkel at UT called me to see if I would be interested in coming to UT for a 6 month half time position, and as they say, “The rest is history.” I have done research (mostly on horses), written book chapters, taught over 1700 students and served on the exam, the grant and the residency committees of the ACVO. I have been very lucky at the University of Tennessee to have such a diverse and high caseload and to work alongside Dan Ward for 20 years. My students often hear me say that a good day for an ophthalmologist is four or more species.
My husband of 25 years, Garret, has been beside since we met on a blind date when we were 19. We have raised two daughters, Anna and Emma. We have enjoyed spending our lives with them and traveling with them. Eleven residents and 20 years later I am still enjoying ophthalmology and having fun at the University of Tennessee.