An Interview with Dr. Karen A. Moriello - Veterinary Medicine
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An Interview with Dr. Karen A. Moriello


Do you have a bad habit?

I am a world-class worrier and catastrophizer. I can take a small concern and morph it into a class I panic attack in just minutes. But I've developed a coping mechanism. In a short story titled "The Worry Box," outdoor humorist Patrick McManus describes keeping his worries in a little mental box lest they take over his life. His box just had a lid; mine is padlocked and, just in case the lock breaks, duct-taped closed.

What do you consider the greatest threat to the profession?

The urbanization of the country. Veterinary medicine is most commonly associated with dogs and cats—people forget that veterinarians are the caretakers of the food source. There is a great need for veterinarians in the food supply area of veterinary practice. People are also losing their connection with the food supply. A lot of children do not realize that the fast-food hamburger they had for lunch came from a cow.

Which animal health needs are currently unmet?

The needs of animals owned by elderly clients living on limited incomes. For many of my clients, these pets are their only purpose in life, their sole companions. It's heartbreaking when these clients come to the clinic and can't pay for care because of their limited income. Much to our credit, I'm increasingly noticing that veterinarians are providing "elder pet care" discounts to long-time clients who are now on fixed incomes.

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

It is not what I hope changes, but what I hope does not. A recent survey reported that veterinarians are in the top three trusted professions. One important reason for this, in my opinion, is that by the nature of our profession we spend a lot of time with our clients face-to-face discussing their pets' care. Clients are involved in the decision-making process. I hope as a profession we never develop the "doc in the box," "get 'em in and get 'em out" approach that seems to be so common in human medicine. I hope that in 100 years we are still in that top three!

What makes a good veterinarian?

Students ask me this all the time. The best I can do is tell them what I would look for if I were hiring: someone with enthusiasm about the profession, who showed initiative, who looked for something constructive to do when things were slow, and who had a good work ethic but was not a workaholic. Someone with a good sense of humor, who knew when to ask for help, had good animal sense, and was honest and humble. Someone who had failed at something important and had gotten back up on his or her feet.


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