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Online comic tells the story of today's veterinarian

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Feb 01, 2010

ARDMORE, PA. — Amanda Brown is a 29-year-old associate veterinarian with an affinity for coffee. She can't seem to find the right man, please her mother or carve out enough time with her friends. Should we even talk about the mountains of student debt and frustrating interactions with clients?


Mirror images: They may not be the same person, but there are many similarities between Hillary Israeli, VMD, and her cat Kaspar (above) and Amanda Brown, DVM, and her cat Carpark (below).
Does Amanda sound familiar? She should, because Amanda is in a position similar to many new veterinary graduates — young, female, broke and trying to find her way in the profession.

The only difference between Amanda and the young female majority is that she doesn't really exist. But to many, Amanda Brown, a fictional online character created by Hillary Israeli, VMD, and Phillip Barnes, is a mirror image and a release to let them laugh a little at their own situation.




"I see Amanda not so much as a mentor but more as a reflection," says Israeli, who provides the stories that play out in Amanda's life on the Web series "Generation Vet." "I hope people see themselves in her and relate to her, even if they don't quite fit her demographic."

Nearly 40 herself with a husband and three children, Israeli is older than Amanda's demographic. But it wasn't so long ago that she, too, faced the challenges of being a young, female veterinarian in a world with many male-owned practices. Luckily, Israeli says, she worked for a practice owner who was flexible and let her try doing things her own way.


The new wave: "The folks who are ­inheriting the ­industry, it's their story, and it's ­different from the story that's been told for the last 30 years," says "Generation Vet" illustrator Phillip Barnes.
Remembering her first difficult cases, like the ones Amanda is faced with, Israeli says young veterinarians often struggle with putting themselves out there as professionals. Being wrong in a diagnosis from time to time is a given for a new veterinarian but can be devastating, she says.

"If you're wrong, it could be crushing, and you feel so embarrassed," she says.

Seeing Amanda go through the same pitfalls might help young graduates cope while they learn the ropes of their new profession, as well as help older veterinarians remember what it was like to be in new DVMs' shoes.

"When you come out of vet school, and you're owing this huge amount of money, and there are not a lot of jobs out there, and they're not paying as well as you may have hoped, you might need to have a laugh and see someone poking fun at a situation like the one you're in," Israeli says. "These stories are universal and, to me, it's really just presenting them in a fresher way with a more modern perspective.