An Interview with Dr. David S. Bruyette
David S. Bruyette, DVM, DACVIM (internal medicine), is the medical director of VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital and a Veterinary Medicine Editorial Advisory Board member. He was a faculty member at Kansas State University for five years and has been in private referral practice since 1994. His clinical and research interests are in endocrinology with an emphasis on diagnosing and treating hyperadrenocorticism.
What is the most exciting change you've seen in veterinary medicine?
Advances in available diagnostics, an increasing emphasis on wellness rather than illness, and the growing importance of veterinary medicine and veterinarians in maintaining and fostering human health. One thing I hope never changes is our reliance on history taking and physical examinations.Who was your most memorable patient?
As an intern, a senior student (Dr. Deb Bernstein) and I had a mastiff puppy with bacterial meningitis. No one except the owner thought the puppy was going to live, but fortunately, the faculty at Purdue University let two very young, naïve people continue working with her for several months. She walked out of the hospital and into my memory forever. Sometimes it pays to not be too sure of yourself.
Who inspired you most in your career?
As a student, Dr. C.B. Chastain scared the hell out me. It was the fear of not being able to answer one of his questions in rounds that really stimulated my interest in medicine.
What was the best professional advice you ever received?
A surgeon during my internship suggested that it was OK for me to consider a nonsurgical career path. I wonder what he was trying to tell me.
What would you advise a new graduate?
Lifelong learning is not only necessary but is actually fun and stimulating.
What would you have liked to do if you hadn't become a veterinarian?
Be an evolutionary biologist. I thought that's what I wanted to do, but I realized that my idea of fieldwork was staying at a Four Seasons.
Are you a cat person or a dog person?
I never owned a dog as a kid and still don't understand why people want dogs. Cats are perfect. You don't need to walk them.
What book would you recommend?
Many, but my favorite is The Old Man and the Sea. Hemingway's ability to convey thoughts and images with few words is amazing.
What book are you reading now?
The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution by David Quammen.
What is your favorite film?
A Christmas Story. The childhood story of a Christmas past and a BB gun is a classic.
What favorite musician would you include on your personal jukebox?
Frank Sinatra. Everything else is noise.
What part of your work do you enjoy most?
Rounds in the morning because I love torturing interns. There is nothing more amusing than listening to an intern present a case and then saying "MMMMMmmm..." to no one in particular. It drives them nuts.
What do you consider the greatest threat to the profession?
As a profession, we need to address several areas before someone else addresses them for us. One that particularly troubles me is the question over the value—financial and emotional—of pets. I do not believe the "a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy" mantra, and I am concerned that if we do not take the lead in helping define the moral and legal issues involved and become more active on the legal and legislative fronts, our profession and society as a whole will be lost in the haze of irresponsible animal activism.
Which animal health needs are currently unmet?
I am with Bob Barker. All pets should be spayed and neutered.
What makes a good veterinarian?
You can always predict which individuals will become great veterinarians. They love coming to work every day and find something new and exciting even in the routine.