There’s so much in store for the graduating class of 2024

dvm360dvm360 April 2024
Volume 55
Issue 4
Pages: 10

Advice for newly graduated veterinarians from our chief veterinary officer, Adam Christman, DVM, MBA

You never forget the day you walk across that stage to receive your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. It has to be one of the proudest days in all of our lives. You and I have worked so hard to earn that golden degree. Sacrifices, lots of studying, and support from family and friends helped get you where you are today. Recently I was asked to be the commencement speaker at my alma mater, Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, for the graduating class of 2024.

Three things occurred to me:

  1. A commencement speech is one of the most difficult speeches I have written.
  2. The graduates likely will forever remember the words and inspiration I offer.
  3. What should I say to the graduating class of 2024?

As we welcome and congratulate the graduates, I am filled with an overwhelming sense of pride and admiration for all of them. Members of the class of 2024 started their journey that they have undertaken has built their resilience and adaptability.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, at his 2004 graduation from Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, at his 2004 graduation from Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

As you know, entering the field of veterinary medicine is not merely a profession; It is a calling, a noble endeavor rooted in compassion, empathy, and the unwavering commitment to the well-being of all creatures, great and small. Sometimes we can lose sight of that and forget our why. As I offer words of wisdom to our new colleagues, I feel it’s worth our time to read and absorb these words.

Think about the profound impact we have on the lives of animals and their human companions. Whether it be companion animals or livestock, your
expertise and care will not only alleviate suffering but also bring comfort and solace to those who place their animals in our capable hands. Embrace this responsibility with humility and gratitude, for it is a privilege to be entrusted with the care of another living being. What other profession offers the opportunity to take care of all species and indirectly affect and improve the lives of humans? The impact is profound, and the reward is immense.

Throughout our veterinary career, we encounter challenges and obstacles that may seem insurmountable. Some days may feel tougher and longer than others. But in these moments, remember the resilience and determination that have been instilled in us all. We often need to draw strength from our passion for veterinary medicine and the unwavering support from our colleagues and mentors. As Winston S. Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” Embrace each challenge as an opportunity for growth and learning, knowing that with perseverance, we will overcome.

What I love most about our veterinary degree is the versatility that comes with it. If you told me 5 years ago that I would be the chief veterinary officer for the country's leading continuing education and multimedia veterinary company, I would have said you were out of your mind. Be sure to seize an opportunity when it presents itself and share opportunities to help a colleague who may need a door opened for them.

Furthermore, never underestimate the power of collaboration and teamwork. Though our profession is vast and complex, encompassing a multitude of specialties and disciplines allows for phenomenal innovation to occur. By working together and sharing knowledge, we can achieve remarkable advancements in animal health and welfare. Cultivate relationships with your peers, seek out mentorship opportunities, and never hesitate to ask for help when needed. Remember, we are stronger together than we could ever be alone.

Take care of yourself, too

As you embark on your professional journey, never lose sight of the importance of self-care and well-being. Veterinary medicine can be emotionally and physically demanding, requiring long hours and often difficult decisions. Take time to recharge your batteries, nurture your passions outside of work, and prioritize your mental and physical health. Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup. By taking care of yourself, you will be better equipped to care for others.

Finally, embrace a spirit of lifelong learning and curiosity. Your education is just beginning as you receive your diploma. Fetch and dvm360 will be there for you, to nurture and grow your skill set for the rest of your career. You are entering a phenomenal time in our profession. Veterinary medicine is constantly evolving, with new discoveries and advancements made each day. Seize the technology, embrace the innovation, and work with those who get it. As veterinarians, we have a responsibility to advocate for our patients and push the boundaries of what is possible. Be your patient’s best advocate.

Dr Christman in 2024 back at his alma mater.

Dr Christman in 2024 back at his alma mater.

As we welcome you to the profession and you embark on this new chapter, remember the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Embrace each day with compassion, empathy, and a commitment to excellence, knowing that you have the power to make a difference in the lives of animals and their human companions.

Welcome to the profession, doctors. The word awaits your boundless potential, and I have no doubt that you will continue to inspire and uplift all those around you. Continue to make the profession proud.

With warmest regards,

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2004.

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