An Interview with... Dr. Robin Downing - Veterinary Medicine
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An Interview with... Dr. Robin Downing


What books are you reading now?

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman; My Job, My Self: Work and the Creation of the Modern Individual by philosopher Al Gini; and I'll Be Seeing You by suspense author Mary Higgins Clark.

What is your favorite film?

To Dance with the White Dog with Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. An elderly widower is bereft until a white dog materializes as his new companion and confidant. This touching story is the embodiment of the remarkable healing power of pets and a reminder of the relationship we serve.

What part of your work do you enjoy most?

I love facilitating, enhancing, lengthening, and strengthening the precious family-pet relationship. In addition, I live for opportunities to help others to achieve their personal and professional best, whether it is helping my own hospital team, veterinary students and veterinary technician students, or veterinary healthcare teams at conferences and other training venues.

What do you consider the greatest threat to the profession?

Complacency. Period.

Which animal health needs are currently unmet?

Our ability to recognize and respond to animal pain is in its infancy. That means there are still animals that suffer needlessly because of our deficiencies. In addition, needless euthanasia of healthy animals simply because there is no room for them remains an embarrassing blight on the veterinary profession.

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

With the mapping of the canine genome, I hope to see a cure for canine cancer and other genetically driven diseases. I also hope the feline genome will be mapped for the same reasons. Finally, I hope to see new and better ways to manage animal pain.

What is your sci-fi prediction for veterinary medicine?

I grew up watching Star Trek, so I dream of the day we can use a veterinary tricorder to noninvasively and comprehensively evaluate our patients.

What are the greatest achievements of your career?

  • Helping to found the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management and serving as its president.
  • Writing Pets Living With Cancer: A Pet Owner's Resource, still the only volume of its kind for pet owners.
  • Receiving the 2001 World Small Animal Veterinary Association's Excellence in Veterinary Healthcare Award.

What makes a good veterinarian?

Good veterinarians are committed advocates on behalf of beings that cannot advocate for themselves. They are shameless in their enthusiasm for the family-pet relationship, and they are unwilling to sacrifice competence on the altar of ego. They learn forever, are tightly attached to their integrity, and understand the critical nature of communication.


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