Drs. Eric Deeble, Nathanial Tablante and Kate Varela have spent the past year working on Capitol Hill as staff to members of Congress. While in those positions, they worked on policy issues from agriculture to public health to conservation. As their AVMA fellowships draw to an end, they attended the association’s annual convention, not just to earn CE and network with their colleagues, but to spread the word to veterinarians about the possibilities that come from AVMA’s Fellowship Program and working in the nation’s capital.
The fellows spoke to several associations allied with the AVMA. Below, they recount highlights from their week in Denver:
Dr. Eric Deeble: “Attending the AVMA Convention was a great way to thank all the groups allied with the AVMA who financially support the fellowship program. To be able to thank the people who make this program possible face-to-face, really put the work we are doing in perspective. Also, speaking to the Student AVMA delegates about our fellowship experience was an added bonus. I went straight from veterinary school into the fellowship program and I’d love for future veterinarians to know that they can use their new degrees in settings they never thought possible, such as the halls of Congress.”
Dr. Nathaniel Tablante: “The AVMA House of Delegates meeting on our first day in Denver was quite overwhelming—I didn’t expect to see such a huge delegation of veterinarians from all over the United States. It was a great feeling when Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, director of AVMA’s Government Relations Division, introduced us to the delegates on the first day. What really stole the show for me was when the chair of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation introduced us to the audience at their breakfast meeting by saying that we “had served time” in Congress (I guess we were on parole while in Denver!). What a funny guy and a great experience all around.”
Dr. Kate Varela: “Honestly, I feel really spoiled for getting such a great insight into the AVMA through this fellowship. The grand finale of an incredible fellowship year was attending the convention in Denver. The experience provided a valuable behind-the-scenes glimpse into the organizational structure of the AVMA and the current issues we face as a profession. It also allowed me to network with veterinarians dedicated to changing the AVMA for the better.”
The fellowship program is sponsored through the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which works to place qualified, scientific experts in congressional offices where there is a need. To date, more than 55 veterinarians have participated in the program. AVMA’s next round of congressional fellows begin their year in Washington at the end of this month.