Q&A with keynotes: Vernard Hodges, DVM, and Terrence Ferguson, DVM

Atlantic City

The Critter Fixers television veterinarians to lead keynote address on harnessing your veterinary superpower at Fetch Coastal Conference

You may have seen them on the Nat Geo show Critter Fixers: Country Vets. But, this time, co-founders of Critter Fixer Veterinary Hospital in Bonaire, Georgia, and costars, Vernard Hodges, DVM, and Terrence Ferguson, DVM, will take the stage at the dvm360® Fetch Coastal Conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey as keynote speakers. Their uplifting talk, “Finding Your Veterinary Superpower,” will encourage attendees to reveal their inner superpower. Spoiler: Every veterinarian has their very own!

 Vernard Hodges, DVM, co-founder of Critter Fixer Veterinary Hospital, and costar of Critter Fixers: Country Vets.

Vernard Hodges, DVM, co-founder of Critter Fixer Veterinary Hospital, and costar of Critter Fixers: Country Vets.

Terrence Ferguson, DVM, co-founder of Critter Fixer Veterinary Hospital, and costar of Critter Fixers: Country Vets.

Terrence Ferguson, DVM, co-founder of Critter Fixer Veterinary Hospital, and costar of Critter Fixers: Country Vets.

Hodges and Ferguson are both proud graduates of Tuskegee University. Along with practicing veterinary medicine, Hodges has launched a real estate company, published a best-selling book Bet on Yourself: From Zero to Millions, and continues to serve the community through his “It Takes a Village” Charity Foundation to teach business skills to children. Outside of the clinic, Ferguson enjoys volunteering, coaching, and mentoring Central Georgia students involved with the Peach County Youth Organization where he also serves as a treasurer. He is a trustee at Beulahland Bible Church in Warner Robins, and Macon, Georgia as well.

dvm360 sat down with the duo to learn more about their experiences as television veterinarians and their most fulfilling accomplishments. Additionally, they reveal what to anticipate for their empowering keynote address.

How did you get involved with the show Critter Fixers: Country Vets?

Hodges: We got involved because we had a production company reach out to us on social media. And social media—it doesn't matter—if you are good at what you do, they will find you. They asked us to be on a TV show, and we thought, maybe this is spam or not the real deal, but it turned out, 5 seasons later, they were serious.

What’s your favorite part about being television veterinarians?

Hodges: You get to go places; you get to see things that you otherwise wouldn't see. I mean, very rarely would you get to talk to Danny DeVito and look at his dog, and he shows you pictures on his phone, or go to talk shows and laugh and joke with Kelly Clarkson and different people. I mean, never in my wildest dreams, would I think I would be on Entertainment Tonight or Good Morning America.

Ferguson: It’s what the platform does, it allows us to kind of magnify things that we have always done, which is to help that next generation of veterinarians, just to inspire, to educate, and show them what we do, and hopefully, they'll move into the profession. I think the beauty for me is the platform, it allows us to do this now on a national stage. It's not new for us, it's something that we've always done, but it allows us now to do it on a larger level.

What have been your most rewarding accomplishments?

Hodges: Looking at Critter Fixers, we can look back and we probably have impacted 100, 200 veterinarians’ lives and they still kind of almost look at us as father figures. I think that's probably the most rewarding [thing], to look back at the trail of veterinarians that we helped throughout the country.

Ferguson: The impact we have had, and sometimes you don't think about it, but then you could be on a phone call with veterinarians and there's someone who came across Critter Fixers and now they're doing the same thing, or they're doing great things. You don't do these things to get accolades, but it's rewarding and heartwarming when you see others that you had a small hand in that they’re veterinarians or they’re business owners or they’re married or they’re a husband or they’re a wife and they have kids, and just knowing you had a hand in that is always very rewarding.

What do you love most about veterinary medicine?

Hodges: It’s just the different variety of animals we get to see. I mean, I had an 80-lb tortoise in the office today just walking around. Sometimes, I'm just shocked at the pets that people have, everybody wants the bigger and better, the coolest pet now. At least for me as a rural practitioner who kind of works on everything, you never know what's walking through the door. That’s probably the coolest part, and being able to fix and make it better.

Ferguson: It’s just a relationship that we develop daily. You're going to meet someone new every day. It may be a relationship and lasts for 10, or 15 years, so those things are very important. And just the opportunity to be able to make someone's life better. If the animals are sick, and we can make them better, I always say that that's one thing about being a veterinarian, is we can help the whole house. So, we may help the pet, but helping the pet also helps the owner of the pet, if they have children, we help the children, so everyone is better and feels better.

What inspired your keynote address “Finding Your Veterinary Superpower”?

Hodges: Oftentimes, veterinarians, we are kind of down on ourselves. We accomplish a lot, but we tend to look at things that we don't accomplish, or that 1 pet we didn't save. But, we're superheroes. We're expected to save that animal that has been outside and is overheated and comes in, and its temperature is 108 °F. If an animal it's pregnant, and there's a puppy stuck, we’re expected to go in and do a C-section and save that animal. We're expected to be superheroes. And it's all about finding your superhero power. All of us have different ones. But if you're a veterinarian, you have some superhero power.

Ferguson: That power has to come on at any time. We can be in the grocery store, and someone stops and says, ‘Can I ask you a question about my pet?’ And we have to turn it on. The field of veterinarians is held in high esteem in the community, and we’re looked upon like Dr Hodges says, ‘To save my baby,’ that's what we're here for.

I was in the airport and this guy was like, ‘Yeah, I recognize you.’ And he looked at me and said, ‘Dr Hodges and Dr Ferguson,’ and I was like, ‘Yes, sir.’ He was an optometrist and he said in his office, he has to play something on the television in the lobby that's family-oriented, something that can be shown to everyone. And, he chose our show. He said he plays it over and over, and said, ‘I probably can name every episode that you guys have, and what you've done even more than you all could.’ Then his wife came, and she was like, ‘My son is not going to believe this, you guys are his hero.’ There’s a lot of pressure on us, of course, but at the same time, we enjoy doing what we're doing, and it has an impact. That's the superhero part, you have to put that cape on, you have to go to work, and you have to save lives. And at the same time, have a smile while you're doing it.

What’s the most important advice you want attendees to take away from this keynote?

Hodges: Even though we're on TV and you might see us in magazines, we're just 2 veterinarians who love this profession. And we're not any different. We just happen to sometimes represent the profession on TV or in a different state, but I just want people to understand and harness their superpower. We had no idea one day we'd have this platform for people to kind of look at us and think, man, ‘I want to be like those guys.’ But to be honest, I am sure there are a lot of people in that audience that I want to be just like as well.

Ferguson: We have to understand, that superheroes come in all shapes, forms, and fashion. Some are very strong, some are very intelligent, and some can do various things. We just have to find out what our superpower is, harness that, and use that to make this world and make this profession a better profession. We all have it, we just have to figure out what it is, hone into it, and get the job done.

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