Meet our keynote: Rachel Allbaugh


Rachel Allbaugh, DVM, MS, DACVO, is presenting the keynote session “Practical Ophthalmology—Identifying and Managing Frequent Adnexal Problems” on Saturday at 8 to 9 AM.

Photo provided by Rachel Allbaugh, DVM, MS, DACVO.

Photo provided by Rachel Allbaugh, DVM, MS, DACVO.

Rachel Allbaugh, DVM, MS, DACVO, is presenting the keynote session “Practical Ophthalmology—Identifying and Managing Frequent Adnexal Problems” on Saturday at 8 to 9 AM. The session will focus on the diagnosis and management of adnexal issues such as conformational problems, hair and eyelash disorders, eyelid masses, eyelid trauma, and third eyelid disorders.

Prior to taking the stage, Allbaugh talked with dvm360® about her love of family and animals, as well as her roles as a mother and an educator.

Tell us a little bit about your career and start in veterinary medicine.

Allbaugh: I’m originally from Iowa and had an opportunity to get my veterinary medicine degree here at Iowa State [University] and then went o and did a private practice rotating internship after graduation in Greensboro, North Carolina. I am so excited to be back in North Carolina for the Charlotte fetch [dvm360®] convention. I did my residency and veterinary ophthalmology at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.

After I finished the residency—we loved it there so much—I stayed on board as a faculty member for a few years. But ultimately, we wanted to move back home to Iowa to be close to family. And so, I’ve been a faculty member at Iowa State University for, gosh, 10 and a half years now.

Do you have any pre-lecture rituals or routines you do before you go on stage?

I can’t say [I have] anything specifically. I’m a person that tries to exercise in the morning just on a regular basis; I think it helps to wake me up and clear my mind. So I will likely try to accomplish that even though I know the keynote is the early morning talk.

Other than that, I love talking to people. So probably Adam Christman [DVM, MBA; keynote host] will have to snag me from a casual conversation with somebody to get me up on stage because my husband and my children know that I lose track of time quite easily when I’m chatting with people and wandering around talking.

You mentioned you like to talk to people. Is that what you like most about lecturing?

Yes, I will say that being able to, again, share knowledge with others and see those light bulbs go o and have people tell me that they were confused by ophthalmology in veterinary school [is rewarding. Maybe it’s] having things presented in a way that is broken down [and] easier to digest or, I don’t know, maybe it’s images that make a di erence. I’m not sure what all makes a di erence. But having people [give] me feedback that, wow, this really works for them, energizes me. I think that I could talk nonstop, as long as I’m getting that positive feedback that it’s making a difference in people’s lives.

If you could give a lecture on anything, what would it be?

That’s funny that you asked that. Most recently, I went to a regional ophthalmology conference where normally we share case stories, especially if they’re challenging cases, to get input from one another. And I opted to put in a presentation on well-being and veterinary medicine and I felt very uncertain about putting forth this presentation idea, because by no means am I an expert on wellbeing.

But I just really felt like it was an important topic [because] in casual conversations at these conferences a lot of people were talking about the struggles of work-life balance or work-life integration, whatever you want to call it.

I will say that I personally went through a very trying time when my kids went back to school last August, because one was going to the middle school, one was going still to elementary school, [and] both of them had multiple different sports practices. And for about 2 weeks’ time, I was convinced that I was going to have to quit my job, just to be a full-time parent and get them to all the places that they needed to be. And so going through that little kind of crisis moment and chatting with other veterinarians who are experiencing similar struggles…made me realize how we should really be talking about these things.

Do you have any pets?

Yes, we have 1 dog. She’s a yellow lab and she’s wonderful.

Her name is Lily. We have 2 cats that my daughter proudly adopted after our old cat had to be euthanized following Christmas, just over a year ago, and these 2 cats are just hilarious.

I’ve never adopted 2 at the same time and they’re so bonded to one another. Their names are Lola and Ireland. Then I [also have] the 2 horses. I have a full Arabian, Gypsy is her name, and she’s like a Corvette. She’s got a lot of get up and go. And then I adopted a free-to-a-good-home half-Arabian, half-quarter horse many, many years ago.

What do you love most about Fetch dvm360® conferences?

The Fetch dvm360® conferences have just been so exhilarating. I started with Fetch; I was supposed to start with in-person presentations at Kansas City in 2020 and then COVID-19 changed that. So going virtually, obviously, …had a different feel to things but the engagement of any of the live presentations I gave on the Fetch virtual platforms was so exciting.

It reenergized us as educators not having to be…isolated. So yes, the vibe with Fetch is just undoubtedly excitement.

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