From ‘Aha’ Moments to Hogwarts Houses: A Veterinarian’s Journey Building a Practice on Compassion
As the veterinary industry continues to grow and evolve, it’s important to hear from the professionals who experience the joys and challenges of the field firsthand. Dr. Audrey Weaver, Partner Veterinarian at Heart + Paw – Glen Mills, shares her passion for creating “aha” moments for pet parents and connecting with her community. Her commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion also stands out, rooted in her experiences as a graduate of Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine. In this interview, Dr. Weaver opens up about her approach to understanding diverse perspectives and her advocacy for kindness and equality for all.
What about practicing veterinary medicine gets you out of bed in the morning?
My goal every day before work is to create “aha” moments for pet parents. Provide knowledge and understanding of difficult topics and ease, (and potentially confirm) the worries of the pet parent.
What are your favorite areas/special interests in veterinary medicine?
Fluid therapy/fluid resuscitation, CPR/basic life support, and renal disease/renal dysfunction.
Can you share a time where you felt you had a meaningful breakthrough with a pet parent?
A sweet young dog presented with its owners to me for a consult. They had had multiple consultations about the dog’s issues and tried multiple treatments, but the problem was not resolved which led them to me. After a thorough exam and some diagnostic work-up, it was determined that the dog had a chronic illness that was causing him to deteriorate rapidly. The dog was ultimately humanely euthanized because of its poor prognosis and progressive decline. Though the case did not have a happy ending, the pet parents were very thankful for my help. I was able to provide clarity and closure to confused, scared pet parents and ease the suffering of their sweet fur baby.
What unique skills/tools/tactics do you find yourself consistently relying on when practicing?
Humor. When I first entered the workforce, I had this impression in my mind that I had to tone down my humor for a more rigid personality to be taken seriously as a doctor. What I’ve learned is that my humor can be healing. The more of my true self I bring forth, the more relaxed everyone around me is (client, patient, and employees) and the more relaxed I am.
What is your biggest goal as a veterinarian with Heart + Paw?
Continuous and consistent community outreach and mentorship.
As a veterinarian, what is your approach to understanding the perspectives of clients/patients from different backgrounds?
Listening, with an empathic ear, to the responses, concerns, and questions presented by the client. When developing a diagnostic and treatment plan for the pet, I’m understanding and respectful of various economic limitations. The client almost always knows the pet better than I do; the client’s observations/concerns are just as important as my clinical evaluation in determining the definitive diagnosis.
How would you advocate the importance for diversity, equity, and inclusion within the veterinary industry?
I advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion by being present mentally and physically. Representation matters, especially for the generations of black, queer, future doctors coming after me. Being outspoken – being a voice for the voiceless and holding myself and others accountable when/if problematic comments are witnessed and by being respectful to others. Respecting gender identity, pronouns, and encouraging others to be respectful even if they don’t understand. Everyone deserves respect.
What does it mean for you to be a graduate of Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), the only veterinary medical professional program located on the campus of a historically black college or university (HBCU) in the United States1?
I have an immense amount of pride being a Tuskegee graduate. I made lifelong friendships while at TU and many of the professors and staff became extensions of my support system and regularly checked in on me. Tuskegee’s campus holds so much rich history; just taking a walk on the campus would often turn into a history lesson: The George Washington Carver Museum sits on Tuskegee University’s campus as well as the home and burial place of Booker T. Washington.
There is so much history at Tuskegee, can you share some particularly meaningful experiences you had as a student there?
Homecoming at Tuskegee was always an experience. Homecoming is the time of year when many alumni return to attend the football game and reconnect with old classmates. The older alum would always tailgate and have yummy food that they would share with the students. Good music, good games, good fellowship. The best time of year at Tuskegee university.
What advice would you give to black/POC/LGBTQ+ students considering a career in the veterinary industry?
Advice to the black/POC/LGBTQ+ future veterinarians: unfortunately, the world remains prejudiced and microaggressions will be encountered daily, but your presence in this field is important and means the generation after you will have it a little easier because of the road you paved. Find your tribe/chosen family. Having a support system is very important! Find healthy coping skills and stress management techniques now. Be an advocate for kindness and equality for all.
Dr. Weaver wraps up a wellness appointment at Heart + Paw – Glen Mills.
How do you take your coffee?
Oat milk and sugar (Splenda).
What Hogwarts house are you?
What character/actor/show/movie really inspired you as a child?
Jamie Foxx – comedian, singer, actor; he can do everything. Comedy being one of my loves, I’ve always wanted to be able to connect to others through the prism of humor and kindness.
How do you unwind at the end of the day?
Wine, food, and comic books.
If you had to eat the same meal for dinner every night, what would it be?
Macaroni and cheese.
1 The Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine Historical Legacy. College of Veterinary Medicine, Tuskegee University.
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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.
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