Dr. Anna O'Brien
Veterinary Medical Officer
Office of New Animal Drug Evaluation
1. Why did you become a veterinarian?
At an early age, I knew I wanted to become a veterinarian. I think the combination of my love for animals and my interest in science made veterinary medicine a natural choice for a profession.
2. What made you want to work for CVM?
I was intrigued by CVM’s unique balance of data evaluation combined with clinical knowledge to make regulatory decisions that affect the health of animals throughout the country as well as impact the safety of our food supply – these are skills I was not able to use while in private practice.
3. What is the best thing about being a veterinarian for CVM?
Being a veterinarian for CVM allows me to combine my interests in research, study design, and clinical evaluation with scientific writing. Reviewing study data and critically assessing the results based on current scientific literature is extremely interesting, as is being on the cutting edge of the development of new therapeutic drugs for food animals.
4. What does the veterinary profession mean to you?
As veterinarians, we are animal advocates. Our job should ultimately be to protect animal health and welfare through education and scientifically-based medical practices. Through this, we not only help the non-human species on this planet who have no voice, but also enrich the lives of humans, be it either through promotion of the human-animal bond, education and communication regarding diseases that can spread from animals to people, or the assurance of a safe, humane, and accessible food supply.
5. What is your most memorable moment as a veterinarian?
In practice, about six months after I graduated from veterinary school, I had to perform my first C-section on a ewe. It was a late night emergency during a winter weekend and my husband came along for the ride to the farm. I was very nervous and employed the help of the farmer and his wife, and had my husband put on sterile gloves and hold the uterus as I sewed it back up after delivering a very large coal black ram (male) lamb. Everything went well (both ewe and lamb survived) and the farmer decided to name the lamb “Bill” after the emergency vet bill. My husband’s input on the experience was that he was glad to hold the uterus as it was warm compared to the very cold barn!