An Interview with... Dr. Donald E. Thrall
Donald E. Thrall, DVM, PhD, DACVR (radiation, radiation oncology), is a professor in the Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences at North Carolina State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. He is the editor of the Textbook of Veterinary Diagnostic Radiology and Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound, the official journal of the American College of Veterinary Radiology.
What is the most exciting change you've seen in veterinary medicine?
The rapid development of highly specialized private practices. Staffed with veterinary specialists and offering sophisticated technology, these practices have raised the visibility of veterinary medicine for animal owners and nonowners alike, improved the quality of medical care available for animals, and increased public perception of our profession as not only caring but also advanced and forward-thinking.Who was your most memorable patient?
Who inspired you most in your career?
What was the best professional advice you ever received?
Education is going from cocksure ignorance to thoughtful uncertainty.
What would you advise a new graduate?
Chase what makes you happy. Life is incredibly short, but luckily, as a veterinarian, you have hundreds of options to pursue that can lead to lifelong professional happiness.
Are you a cat person or a dog person?
No question, a cat person. I love their independence and find them soothing—how can something that sleeps 20-plus hours a day not be soothing.
What is your favorite film?
Dances with Wolves. It exemplifies how misguided and insensitive we can be. This film reminds us of our shortcomings and should be a stimulus to avoid such tragedies in the future.
What part of your work do you enjoy most?
The variety. The development of sophisticated practices has brought incredible financial opportunities for specialists in the private sector. However, I wouldn't trade the variety of my workweek for a life outside of academia. I have the opportunity to interact with bright students, function in the highest-quality veterinary practice, participate in high-level investigative activities, and pursue editing and writing. I never know what the day will bring.
What do you consider the greatest threat to the profession?
Two things: First, escalating prices that will further limit the ability of many Americans to provide top-quality healthcare for their pets. Second, the difficulty in keeping bright specialists in the academic environment. With the current exodus of newly trained residents to practice, where will the next generation of academic clinicians come from? Intern and residency training programs don't do enough to illustrate the advantages of academic life.