An Interview with... Dr. Shirley D. Johnston - Veterinary Medicine
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An Interview with... Dr. Shirley D. Johnston


What part of your work do you enjoy most?

Interacting with colleagues, students, and clients. I'm inspired by the transformation that veterinary education makes in a student's life and by the great work that veterinarians do all over the world.

What do you consider the greatest threat to the profession?

Tunnel vision, clinging to tradition instead of embracing change, competition at the expense of collaboration, failure to understand the importance of diversity in our profession, rudeness, unkindness, and uncooperativeness.

Which animal health needs are currently unmet?

The needs of homeless animals and animals in third-world and war-torn countries. The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges has provided wonderful leadership under Dr. Robert Kahrs in helping reestablish veterinary education in Afghanistan and Iraq. Practitioners can continue the association's great work here at home by serving as animal advocates on issues such as feral cats and for state and local legislation involving animal welfare.

What changes in veterinary medicine do you hope will occur in the next 100 years?

  • Every veterinarian will see himself or herself as an animal advocate. We need to become the leaders in welfare issues, not the resisters.
  • We will contribute to world conservation and sustainable agriculture through programs such as Envirovet, Heifer International, and other organizations that need veterinarians' breadth of education.
  • Veterinarians will see themselves and be seen as important parts of a public health team. All veterinarians are public health veterinarians, as we all interact with people and animals. The huge challenges we face—human health and welfare, food safety, emerging diseases—mandate that we see ourselves in this role.


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