First Week in Washington

As a student, you get used to introducing yourself with your name, where you’re from, major, and a little bit about yourself, so I figured I’d do the same here. My name is McKenna Guettinger and I am a fourth year veterinary student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. I will be graduating in May of 2019, and following graduation I hope to enter small animal general practice, specifically feline only practice. When I tell people that I want to go into feline only practice, I get one of two reactions. I either am asked why I would want to do that when cats typically aren’t the patients who show you any affection, or people assume I am the crazy cat lady of my class. Although I am known as one of the crazy cat ladies, I currently only have two senior cats at home, 15 year old Lilly and 13 year old Ollie, so it could be worse, right? In reality, I enjoy the challenge that feline only practice presents, as many of your patients really aren’t excited to see you, and will keep every appointment interesting.

So you might ask, why the AVMA GRD externship if you want to go into practice? Although many previous externs have been aspiring to what are considered non-traditional careers (military, research, policy, etc.), I am in DC because I want to be involved in the process. My family has always had a motto that “if you don’t stay informed, you don’t get to complain when you don’t like the outcome.” That’s why I’m here, learning the skills that are involved with maintaining a lifelong engagement in policy. Since arriving in DC this week, I have already learned so much about the different areas that the AVMA focuses on. The assistant directors are currently advocating on the behalf of student loan repayment programs such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and the Veterinary Medical Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP), which provide partial loan forgiveness for veterinarians in government positions or rural areas. Their focus is not limited to student loans, as all the directors and assistant directors are currently tirelessly advocating for or against policies that would affect the veterinary profession such as small business issues, government funding, and pharmaceuticals.

While I am interested in the policy work being done in the office, I am also looking forward to getting out in the community and meeting with veterinarians working in agencies all over D.C. While I’m not planning on doing government work as a career following graduation, I am looking forward to learning more about different career paths that veterinarians can take. After all, I’ve only now just started the job hunt, and could get inspired at any moment over the next few weeks to consider a different path following graduation!