Women’s History Month 2023

Pictured, left to right: Dr. Karen Wylie, Dr. Deise Funk, Dr. Doris Miller
Pictured, left to right: Dr. Karen Wylie, Dr. Denise Funk, Dr. Doris Miller

Women of GVMA: Women’s History Month

Travel back in time with us to the year 2000, when Dr. Doris Miller was elected as the first GVMA President that identified as a woman. Since then, GVMA has grown to better represent the Georgia veterinary community, with more women than ever in leadership roles. Currently, the GVMA is headed up by three women: Dr. Keri Riddick – Executive Director, Susan Blevins – Director of Operations, and Dr. Elizabeth Mackey – the 2023 GVMA President. This month, GVMA hopes to celebrate the women of veterinary medicine here in Georgia. We are starting with the first woman to serve as GVMA President: Dr. Doris Miller.

Dr. Miller says she was first inspired to become a veterinarian during her childhood. Her local veterinarian and his father, who also was a veterinarian, encouraged her and answered all of her questions when they came out to her father’s farm and business (meat processor/slaughterhouse). During high school, she worked for them in the summers as a secretary/technician. She says they never stopped encouraging her to become a veterinarian. “If you do your best you can become anything you wish” they would say. She credits the father/son duo for giving really good advice about how to study and set goals for herself.

“It was an honor and a pleasure to serve as the first female president of the GVMA. I remember receiving a standing ovation from the members at the business meeting where I was selected. I was truly humbled. But it was also stressful because I knew all eyes were on me and I had to do the very best I could for the organization and all the women in our profession.”

There’s no doubt the veterinary industry has changed over the last 23 years. Salaries have risen, technology and capabilities improve at astonishing rates, and we’ve seen improvement in the matriculation rate for underrepresented veterinary students. But to appreciate the progress we have made and will continue to make, it is important to acknowledge where we came from and the women who blazed the trail long before us.

“In school some students said we were taking up a spot a man could have had. So, in our class we knew as women we needed to stick together and support and help each other as well as our male classmates. We were in this together and I think that is what made a difference. I was told by several practitioners when I applied for a position as a large animal veterinarian my Senior year that they wouldn’t interview me because their clients wouldn’t accept a woman vet. I appreciated their honesty and found a practice that was a better fit for me and my experience.”

This Women’s History Month, the GVMA is proud to celebrate the women of the veterinary profession here in Georgia. Do you have someone you think should be featured? Send us their name, email, and why you think they should be featured to gvma@gvma.net.