For the third year, dvm360 is recognizing industry professionals who are advancing the field and improving the lives of patients, clients, and staff with our Dentistry winner, Curt R. Coffman, DVM, FAVD, DAVDC, national director of dentistry for Thrive Pet Healthcare
dvm360 is pleased to present the 2023 class of Veterinary Heroes. Nominated by their peers and selected for the recognition by a committee of esteemed veterinary professionals, 15 award recipients were chosen in various veterinary industry roles and specialties in this third annual program.
The Veterinary Heroes recognition program—sponsored by PetSmart Veterinary Services (corporate sponsor) as well as Blue Buffalo Natural, Nocita, TruCan and Trufel, Think Anesthesia, MedVet, Mount Laurel Animal Hospital, Nextmune, and Thrive Pet Healthcare (category sponsors)—celebrates the achievements of outstanding veterinary professionals who are advancing the field and making a difference in animal care. These winners will be honored on Thursday, August 24, 2023, in conjunction with a Fetch dvm360 conference in Kansas City, Missouri.
Make sure to register for Fetch Kansas City if you have not already!
When Curt R. Coffman, DVM, FAVD, DAVDC, was in high school, he and his fellow students were given an aptitude test to help determine career paths they could follow after they graduated. Coffman, who was a big fan of science and whose family had grown up on ranches, took the test, and his results showed that he should pursue a career as a jet engineer or in veterinary medicine. This test sparked a love for veterinary medicine that would carry him into a 30-year career of clinical practice and teaching.
Coffman graduated in 1993 from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine in Columbia, Missouri. He then joined a private practice in Tempe, Arizona, where he worked as a small animal veterinarian. In 2000, he joined the Arizona Veterinary Dental Specialists (AVDS), which operates multiple practices, to complete his residency training for board certification. He worked with AVDS for more than 20 years caring for dogs and cats in a referral practice. Coffman is now a board-certified veterinary dentist by the American Veterinary Dental College and a fellow of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry.
Coffman’s passion for veterinary dentistry was sparked when the veterinarian at the first practice he worked at decided that they needed to focus more on oral health and that Coffman would be the veterinarian to do that. Coffman went on to complete multiple continuing education courses because his exposure to dentistry in veterinary school was limited—and thus began his love for dentistry.
“My exposure to dentistry was pretty much zero until I was in practice, and then I just liked it,” Coffman explained. “I think dentistry is something where initially as a veterinarian, it’s kind of surgical if you like surgical skills, but you’re not into big, crazy lifesaving things. Hand-eye coordination and surgical dexterity can be used in dentistry. I liked that part of it.
“As I got into it, [the] more I realized that it really helped my patients and, as a result, made my clients and pet parents really happy [because] just by pulling teeth—getting those rotten teeth out of there—just really makes them feel better, eat better, [and] manage [any disease] better. I think that’s ultimately what pushed me down that road to get board certified.”
Coffman recently decided to pursue a new adventure serving as the national director of dentistry for Thrive Pet Healthcare and to lead its Dental Growth Program, which allows him to travel across the country educating doctors and technicians at Thrive hospitals about oral health. Along with his work with Thrive, Coffman is a consultant and dental instructor for multiple veterinary schools.
He explained that although he has received multiple awards in the past, ones like Veterinary Heroes mean the most to him because they come directly from the veterinary community.
“When you get recognized by your own profession, that means a lot to me. It’s your peers—and that’s one of the things that really hit home with me—so I am very thankful for an award like this,” Coffman said.
Citing his passion for the specialty, selflessness and role as a mentor, 3 peers nominated Coffman for the Veterinary Heroes award. They also spoke of his work in growing veterinary dentistry and promoting education in the field. One nominator wrote that he “takes his team with him in growing as leaders and filling/creating roles that are needed to create better dentistry across the US.”