Q&A with a keynote: Brandy Duhon, DVM

Atlantic City

Dr Brandy Duhon shares with dvm360 on how never giving up made her the veterinary professional she is today



Brandy Duhon, DVM, refuses to give up. When she was younger, she was diagnosed with meningitis which resulted in her losing both of her hands and she has not let that defer her from pursuing her dreams, including becoming a veterinarian. After applying to veterinary school multiple times, Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine accepted her into the class of 2013.

During an interview with dvm360®, Duhon shared more about her life and what attendees can expect to take away from her upcoming keynote address "Beyond Able: Breaking Barriers of Disabilities & Accessibility in Veterinary Medicine" at our upcoming Fetch dvm360 Fetch Coastal conference.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a Louisiana native. Always have been, always will be. I'll never leave this state. I love it. I went to vet school at LSU, graduated in 2013. I am a little bit different because I don't have any hands. And so that was actually a big adjustment to go into vet school for me as well as for the vet school. But I went through it, I graduated just like everyone else did and no special adaptations. And I worked at LSU, 9 years as an instructor. I've taught shelter medicine, I've taught surgery. And now I am with Heartland Veterinary Partners, which is a corporate company and I am the director of campus relations.

What inspired your keynote address?

Well, my topic is disability and how to strive and not let those hurdles get in your way. And so I think my story is probably 100% original, I don't know of anyone else that is a surgeon [or] doctor that does not have any hands. And so I've had 3 different life events. So, I'm very persistent. It's a never give up story and anything is possible. In this time of the world, I think that's important for people to look into see those kinds of stories. And to know that there is still hope or there are people that who still strive to overcome obstacles.

What is the key take away from your keynote address?

I will say overcoming obstacles and not giving up and that anything is possible. A lot of people tell me 'well, that's not possible.' And so that's the one thing that I love to do: to prove them wrong. And I think it's important to know that I may not do things the same way that everyone else does, but I get to the same outcome.

With animals, like I make sure that there's no tissue damage, I make sure that I'm sterile, I make sure that all the same protocols [and] everything is done with the animal in mind, I just do it a different way. And I think out of the box, and I think it's important for people to know that just because someone writes with a pencil with 1 hand doesn't mean I can't write with 2 and a lot of people tell me I have a better penmanship than most.

Are you giving any other lectures at Fetch Coastal?

I am! So I am giving a lot a lecture on zoonotic diseases and veterinary shelter setting. So I loved loved loved shelter medicine when I was at LSU. Obviously, I did shelter medicine and so I’ll be giving a lecture on zoonosis and the risk of disease transmission, like how can we prevent it silence them symptoms and all that great stuff.

Do you have any advice for veterinary students that you'd like to give?

I do speak to numerous amounts of veterinary student because with Heartland, we go to majority of the schools. And so obviously, when the students see me, it's like, wow, she's different. And I do have students that come out and ask me, 'can I get some help? I need help for my professors to understand how I could do different things [and] for people to accept me.' My advice for vet students is to not to give up.

It would have been really easy for me to say nobody believes I can do it [and] this is not something I'm going do. But I applied 4 times to vet school. So like I said, I'm very persistent. And so my advice for them is to not give up and anything is possible. A lot of people say, 'oh, you can't do that.' But no one knows but you.

If you could lecture anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I am going across the pond in November. So that is going to be fun for me. But my thought was maybe Melbourne…just because I've never been there. And if I know it's beautiful, and it's a great place to travel, and there's great people there. And so maybe Melbourne would be the one that I would choose.

Are you interested in attending this keynote? There is still time to register for our Fetch Coastal conference where you can attend this keynote, all our other incredible keynote address, and other incredible faculty members you can learn from. To learn more and sign up, head over to the official Fetch website!

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