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 Emergency Medicine winner, Mariana Pardo, MV, BVSc, DACVECC
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!
Mariana Pardo, MV, BVSc, DACVECC, is originally from Chile, and she moved to the United States to pursue board certification as a critical care specialist. The way she decided to become a veterinarian was a bit unconventional.
“I’m not like everyone else,” she said in a dvm360 interview. “I was never the 5-year-old [who] wanted to be a vet. I actually wanted to be a singer.” Pardo was about 18 years old when she decided she wanted to be a veterinarian, mostly out of teenage rebellion because her mother wanted her to be a doctor. “And I’ve been so incredibly lucky that I absolutely love this career and what I do,” Pardo noted.
She graduated from veterinary school at Universidad Mayor in Santiago, Chile, in 2009 and then completed 2 emergency and critical care (ECC) internships, one at the University of Georgia in Athens and the other at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She completed her ECC residency at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. With 14 years of veterinary medicine experience, Pardo now focuses on veterinary consulting and education. She has inspired many others along the way as an international speaker and diversity, equity, and inclusion advocate.
Her greatest passion is teaching, and it’s been a mission of hers to give back to the Latin American community by participating in veterinary medicine education programs.
“As a very, very proud Latino woman and [being] from Chile, I grew up in a place where there weren’t specialists that actually had become boarded,” Pardo said. “Most specialists there have been putting in the self-education and just continuing to do the work. And it’s through them that I ended up being where I am now. So I want to try to contribute as much as I can to the education that I’ve gotten to bring that back in a more accessible way.”
The person who inspired Pardo to pursue teaching and emergency and critical care veterinary medicine was Cesar Villalta, MV, whom she worked with during her externship at an emergency hospital in Chile. “He was the first one to really see the love that I potentially could have for emergency and critical care,” she said. “I started out this career wanting to do exotics, and it wasn’t until this externship that I truly fell in love with unstable patients, and that does include exotics. But he really motivated me and inspired me to see what I could do not just as an ECC, but truly as a teacher.”
Another experience that confirmed for Pardo that she wanted to work in ECC was treating a stray dog that came into an emergency clinic in Chile for burn injuries after saving people from a building that was ablaze. “This stray dog walked into this burning building and started pulling out people [of] different homes….He kept going back in, and he got very burnt. We handled this dog for a couple of months. He was on a mechanical ventilator, and then we continued managing his wounds,” Pardo explained, adding that the individuals who were rescued by this heroic dog were fighting over which of their families would get to adopt him when he recovered. “The family that ended up winning the dog did have a couple of children,” she said. “So they were very happy to bring in this new family member that actually did save their lives.”
Pardo said her most fulfilling professional achievement is becoming a boarded criticalist. “That’s the reason I moved to the United States. And it took me 10 years to become boarded, so that was a huge accomplishment for me,” she said. The personal accomplishment she’s most proud of is being an expectant mother. “I’m very happy to say that I’m going to become a mom soon. That is by far one of the biggest dreams that I’ve had in my life,” she said.
Regarding receiving a Veterinary Heroes award, she said, “I’m so happy [to be recognized for] the efforts I put in to try to give back to the community, to students that I have, whether that is at veterinary school levels, interns, residents, technicians, etc….It just really solidifies that potentially I’m on the right path and that I should continue going. So this is just such a huge honor, and it just gives me more energy to push forward.”
Pardo’s 2 nominators described her as a leading educator in her specialty who reaches professionals in a variety of ways, including social media platforms. They also credited her with saving countless animal lives and working to aid humans in crisis. “She has been very vocal about suicidal awareness in the past year, which arose from her losing a resident mate of hers,” wrote a nominator. “She implemented suicide training in her department and has been an advocate for mental health.”