Q&A with a keynote: Fred Wininger, VMD, MS, DACVIM (Neurology)

Atlantic City

Learn more about Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference keynote speaker, Fred Wininger, as he discusses his career start and the value of neurology

Fred Wininger, VMD, MS, DACVIM (Neurology) completed his neurology/neurosurgery residency at Washington State University, and it was there that he developed a love for neuroimaging and the development of a novel neuronavigation device. Wininger will be presenting his keynote session, “The Gait Game” on the third day of the 2022 Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference (ACVC) in Atlantic City, New Jersey, his native state. Learn a little more about Wininger with this brief Q&A with dvm360®.

What inspired you to become a veterinarian?

Fred Wininger, VMD, MS, DACVIM (Neurology)

Fred Wininger, VMD, MS, DACVIM (Neurology)

Like most, I always felt an affinity for animals, a love for the nuances between species and breeds. Veterinarians are puzzle solvers, and we have the benefit of understanding animals better than most, so we can put the pieces together. That's essentially neurology; a game of clues from an examination to identify where there is a break in the circuitry.

What makes you passionate about neurology?

What makes neurology special is that it's perhaps the last vestige of a pure physical examination. In other fields, a physical examination is the initial step in achieving a diagnosis, but in most regards, the neurologic examination is the end all be all. Fancy MRIs are invaluable tools, but they don't tell you if an animal has a proprioceptive deficit (knows where its limb is relative to the best of its body) or if it can see threatening objects. I love neurology because my functional assessment gives me information no piece of technology can replace.

What was one of the most rewarding accomplishments in your career?

I've had some special cases. Dogs that should never have walked again reaching high levels of agility trials. However, the greatest accomplishment in my career is invariably about making neurology approachable to my colleagues. “Neurophobia” is a real phenomenon and, in general, most veterinarians would rather pass the neurologic cases to their colleagues because it makes them anxious, [and feeling like] they're not good enough at it. Making scary words like "upper motor neuron" or "ataxia" as familiar as "murmur" or "lameness" fills my bucket, I'm passionate about it!

What would you like attendees to take away from your keynote presentation?

I'd love for attendees to walk out feeling that their inherent understanding of animals brings them value as veterinary practitioners. The hope that they can utilize their knowledge of "what's normal and not normal" and use it to figure out where an animal has a problem, perhaps even what the problem is. So often we can see it but not say it. The goal is to find a common nomenclature that you can articulate the thing that “ain't right” and turn it into a diagnosis.

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