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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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A Three-Week Whirlwind Tour of CVM


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by Janet Buffer, MS, RD, LD, The Ohio State University


I had never heard of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) until my advisor at The Ohio State University suggested I spend three weeks there to fulfill part of my practicum requirements for my Masters of Veterinary Public Health degree. The experience opened my eyes to CVM’s important public health role and to a dynamic organization striving to make a positive, proactive impact on animal and human health throughout the country and the world.

CVM is one component center of FDA. The center itself is made up of five smaller component offices: the Office of the Director (which includes the Communications Staff), Office of Surveillance & Compliance, Office of Research, Office of New Animal Drug Evaluation, and Office of Management. All the offices together complement each other like the puzzle pieces in a larger picture. Each office has a main purpose, and is a separate yet equal piece of the puzzle. It takes the coordination of the entire puzzle to meet the center’s mission to protect and promote public health.

My days at CVM had no routine but held many new experiences for me. I could find myself sitting among office and division directors, listening to their discussions about problems needing immediate attention that may impact the livelihoods of people and their livestock across the United States. An hour later, I could be talking with a veterinarian in the Office of Surveillance & Compliance about drug risk assessments and strategies for decreasing the number of reactions associated with various drugs. Later in the day, I could be speaking with pharmacists about drug labels and how to prevent prescription errors in animals.

I had heard that the Center for Veterinary Medicine is “a bit different” from the rest of FDA. I don’t know what makes CVM different from other FDA centers. If diversity, the opportunity for professional development, and camaraderie are the reasons, then I hope to be a part of this “different” center someday.

My visit to FDA’s Center of Veterinary Medicine was more than a learning experience. It was a refreshing exposure to the federal government. I gained a wealth of information shared by experts in their fields. I created enriching relationships that, although short, will be long in influence. I also developed an understanding of CVM’s public health mission. Driving home to Columbus, I realized I had become a passionate CVM advocate.