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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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Alice Weiss

 Alice Weiss
 Alice Weiss

Veterinary Medical Officer
Office of Surveillance and Compliance

1. Why did you become a veterinarian?

I don’t even know why; because I just always wanted to become an animal doctor.

2. What made you want to work for CVM?

At first, the any-80 hour schedule was compelling as well as not having to deal with collecting money from clients. The public health mission of the center resonated with my sense of duty and service too.

3. What is the best thing about being a veterinarian for CVM?

The intellectual stimulation you get when you can discuss the work issues with your fellow workers. On my team, I get to work with pharmacists, microbiologists, and nurses, so the exchange of ideas is pretty rich!

4. What does Vet 2011 mean to you?

Well, I enjoy the historic journey of the veterinary world. The profession of veterinary medicine is constantly changing. If you look back through the centuries, you can see how our duties change about every 20 years. Our work is a direct reflection of the needs of the public. For instance, around 1900, we were predominantly horse veterinarians. When the car was invented, horses were not needed. So, horse veterinarians were not needed in such large numbers and veterinarians had to reinvent their work duties. We are able to re-mold and re-shape ourselves more than most professions.

5. What is your most memorable moment as a veterinarian?

I have had many. And, of course, the mistakes stick out more than the heroic moments. I remember rushing home from practice and picking up my daughter from a friend’s house. And while I was there, for all of 6 minutes, they wanted me to help out with a ‘found cat.’ The friend and her family were upset and worried about when the cat would have her kittens, so they wanted me to tell them about when she would give birth and how many kittens she would have. I was rushing because I needed to get home to my other kids. I did a quick feel of the cat, and told the family the kittens were almost to term and it was a large litter. I smiled, grabbed my daughter and left. Well, it turns out the cat did have an owner. And they informed my friend that ‘he’ was not pregnant. And that ‘he’ could never even have kittens of any sort because he was neutered years ago. They informed my friend that the cat often gets constipated. So, that was that. I had felt fecal balls, not kittens. I deserved the pain of trying to ‘get out of that one’ because I had rushed and hadn’t bothered to even do a bad physical exam. And, I assumed that what the client (in this case my daughter’s friends who did not know the cat) said to me was the truth. Believe me, that never happened again.