DVM, CAE, Chief Veterinary Officer of the NAVC
Dana Varble received her veterinary degree from University of Illinois in 2003 and earned her Certified Association Executive designation from ASAE in 2021. She has practiced clinical medicine in exotic pet, small animal general practice and emergency medicine and serves as an associate veterinarian for Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital. She has spoken locally, nationally, and internationally on herpetological and exotic animal medicine and the state of the veterinary profession. She served as the president of the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians in 2013 and presently works as the managing editor of the Journal of Herpetological Medicine and Surgery for ARAV. In 2015, she joined NAVC and in January of 2020 she was named Chief Veterinary Officer. As a NAVC spokesperson and a veterinary industry expert, she promotes animal health and the veterinary profession through media interviews and appearances including CNN, Steve Dale’s Pet World, Pet Life Radio, NBC News, local media outlets and others.
She shares her home with a mixed-up brown dog named Hannah, a Leonberger named Kodi, a tank of cichlids, four ball pythons, and a domestic human, Patrick, and his kids Lexi, and PJ.Read Articles Written by Dana Varble
Class of 2022: you’ve spent the past 6 to 8 years of your life in school learning all the things you need to know, right? I am sure that on this precipice of joining the profession your biggest anxiety, like most new graduates, is that you don’t actually know enough.
Well rest easy, you don’t. It’s true: You don’t know enough and you’ll probably never know enough. You’ll spend the rest of your career seeking continuing education opportunities that inspire and excite you, but often out of fear. Fear of missing out, shortfalls, and deficits. Fear of board complaints, bad reviews, and legal liability. It’s hard not to be scared on your first day of practice. In a way, it is like setting off on a back-country hike carrying a 50-pound backpack full of all the knowledge you acquired in school but with no map or compass and with 256 possible routes for your career to take.
But there’s a second part to this secret: Not knowing isn’t that big of a deal. In the age where artificial intelligence can help us interpret radiographs, wearable monitors can generate glucose curves in 0.0003 seconds, and nearly every client has a supercomputer with a powerful search engine at their fingertips, I can assure you that your ability to recite facts and figures no longer holds the same weight or defines you as a veterinary professional. The scary truth is that Dr. G*$@# (name redacted, copyright legal things) will always outperform you in that arena.
What you actually learned in school was so much more than drug doses and muscle insertions/origins. What you learned and what you’ll spend the rest of your career perfecting is actually professional judgment. It is your judgment, fed by thousands and thousands of bits of knowledge, that your clients and your patients need the most. The amazing algorithms in your veterinary brain that take bits of client history and physical exams, tidbits from books and notes, feelings in your hands, past cases, conversations with colleagues, and that “this doesn’t feel right” pestering sensation will guide you. The judgment of knowing when to refer to a specialist, send a patient to surgery, look up something in a book, or find new research articles will save more patients and will be more appreciated by your clients than if you are able to recite the cranial nerves by heart!
You can spend your career in fear of what you don’t know—fear of being blamed, fear of making a mistake—or you can embrace what you don’t know with the animals and people that love them, gifting them with your guidance and judgment to figure out what you don’t know together.
Welcome to veterinary medicine, Class of 2022! We are all just a little bit lost out here but the good news is we get to draw the map for ourselves, together.