Board Member Spotlight: Dr. Will Wright

Meet Dr. Will Wright, GVMA Director – Rural Practice

Where do you work and for what type of practice?

Valdosta Animal Hospital – it is Small Animal predominantly, with the occasional alpaca and rabbit.

When did you graduate?

UGA 2016

What inspired you to become a veterinarian, and how has that passion evolved over the years?

Two people inspired me to become a veterinarian, my mom and my childhood veterinarian. Both had a passion for animals which led me to pursue a career in the field. From the time I was five years old, I have known I wanted to be a veterinarian. As time has progressed, my passion has not wavered. However, I have become more acutely aware of the challenges faced by owners, the pets themselves, and the veterinary community.

Can you share a particularly challenging case you’ve faced, and what you learned from it?

I had a case where the owners were unable to afford referral for treatment of a corneal ulcer in a horse’s eye and were reluctant to remove the eye. I offered to help them continue topical treatment or enucleation. The owners elected treatment, and after a long battle were able to salvage vision in the eye. The case reaffirmed the fact that no matter how poor the prognosis may be, if the owners are willing and the pet is cooperative, the outcome may be better than anticipated.

Are there any specific trends or developments in veterinary medicine that you feel are particularly significant or transformative?

The most concerning and significant trend is telemedicine. Telemedicine can be a vital tool especially for rural vets to have access to allowing them to see cases which may not be able to be seen otherwise due to time or distance. However, without a valid patient-client-veterinarian relationship there can be numerous issues ranging from misdiagnoses to outbreaks of dangerous diseases being missed due to no physical exam.

How has technology impacted the field of veterinary medicine for you, and what emerging technologies are you most excited about?

When I started, digital radiography was just being introduced. Today, along with ultrasound machines we are far better equipped to diagnose and treat conditions sometimes before they cause problems such as recognizing a tumor on an abdominal scan and removing it before the tumor can spread or rupture.

What are some common misconceptions about livestock health that you encounter and how do you address them?

Most misconceptions stem from holdover information from previous generations who went for many years without access to veterinary care. For the most part, farmers are often willing to modify their herd health plans if the plan is explained in a manner demonstrating cost savings and improved overall health.

How do you handle the emotional aspects of working with animals, such as dealing with euthanasia or comforting grieving pet owners?

The loss of a loved one never gets easier and neither does the act of euthanasia. Attempting to comfort an owner who lost a companion is a learning experience. Everyone grieves differently so there is no right or wrong way to give condolences. Often a kind word or a hug goes a long way.

What advice would you give to the recent graduate veterinarians who are entering the workplace?

My best advice is keeping your mind open to all ways of treating animals from the university gold standard to the on the budget fix. Both oftentimes gain the same result – one just may not be as quick or require more effort on the owner and veterinarian’s part. Additionally, no matter how right you may think your treatment is, always take time to see the owner’s side of the situation and how you can modify the treatment, so the pet gets cared for and the owner is not frustrated.

How important is the human-animal bond in your daily practice, and can you share a story that highlights the deep connection between pets/livestock and their owners?

I had a case with a farmer who had a cow who had a difficult calving and lost the calf. After calving, the cow was unable to stand. I was called to the farm to assess the cow. When I arrived, she was dehydrated and unable to stand but alert. He explained she was the first cow he got when he purchased the farm 15 years ago. She was in amazing condition and well cared for. I stated she did not have a great prognosis, but we would do all we could for her. I laid out a treatment plan for her and he followed it exactly, including lifting her multiple times a day to give her the chance to stand. He began to lose hope after 7 days of no improvement. Finally, I received a picture of her standing on her own. The farmer could not have been happier. Even though she was not able to calve again, he was overjoyed to have her on the farm as his companion.

Why did you become involved in the GVMA?

To make a difference in the veterinary community and help give a voice to the veterinarians in the rural areas.

Why is the Non-Companion Animal Task Force that you serve on so important?

The task force is important because food, exotic, and other outlying animals are often forgotten when it comes to rules, regulations, and aid in general. The GVMA created this task force to help give a voice to the non-companion animals who might otherwise fall through the legislative cracks. We are also here to help aid in the education of clients and communities on the care and options of treatment facilities of patients. Additionally, we want to help those new grads who are looking to step into the field and may have interests other than small animal medicine.

VetSouth 2023: Now with equine medicine, mixed-animal topics, and 3 skills labs!