DVM: What encourages you most about the practice of small-animal/feline veterinary medicine in 2010?
Colleran: Cats are enormously fascinating creatures. Every day is continuing education day for me. Also, some veterinary schools are
starting to focus more on feline medicine, including feline-specific diseases and behavioral issues. Students also are being
trained more in communication skills.
DVM: What discourages you most about the state of the field today?
Colleran: Although this is not a feline medicine-exclusive issue, student debt is a huge issue. That's really troublesome. It's really
difficult for students who are interested in taking the reins of a practice to attempt to do so with their debt load. Owning
a feline practice is a very exciting and interesting part of the profession, but it will be out of the question for a lot
of younger veterinarians if the debt load is not addressed. Also, there continues to be a bigger focus on canine medicine
in veterinary schools, which is unfortunate.
DVM: On the research front, what are some of the most notable strides in feline medicine since you started practicing?
Colleran: I've noticed a great stride in pain management. Cats are so inscrutable. A cat can have an abscess but can handle pain so
differently than another pet might to the point where you may not immediately know the cat is in pain. We're starting to understand
the subtle signs of diseases in cat behavior. The animal is evolved as a species. Much of the research today is disease specific—and
we've discovered markers for disease in cats. There is a lot of amazing work on infectious diseases.
DVM: What important achievements have been accomplished in human research that have impacted feline medicine?
Colleran: Advanced imaging has found its way into veterinary medicine. And while human research achievements have impacted veterinary
medicine, what I think is most interesting is the crossover between veterinarian/client relationships and human physician/patient
relationship issues, such as how physicians need to do things differently to be understood and to communicate with clients.
That's a direct response to people saying, "I'd rather have my vet be my doctor." Truly, we have a lot to share in both directions.
Veterinary medicine is moving in the opposite direction of the human medicine's movement toward electronic health records
technology and less face-to-face.
Ms. Skernivitz in a freelance writer in Cleveland, Ohio.