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20 Questions: Eden Myers, DVM

Created 09.16.12 by Juliet Farmer
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Dr. Eden Myers, DVM, is president and CEO of Myers Veterinary Services Company in Mount Sterling, Kentucky. She is also a practitioner at TriState Animal ER in Credo, West Virginia. Myers earned her bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of Kentucky in Lexington, where she graduated summa cum laude in animal science. She went on to earn her doctor of veterinary medicine at Auburn University in Alabama, where she graduated cum laude with an emergency and food animal emphasis. Dr. Myers also earned a master’s degree in agriculture from the University of Kentucky with a focus on nutrition and reproduction.

Prior to starting her own company, Dr. Myers was an associate at various practices, including Gainesway Small Animal Clinic in Lexington; Banfield the Pet Hospital in both Kentucky and Ohio states; OKI Emergency Veterinary Services in Taylor Mill, Kentucky; and Park Animal Care in Winchester, Kentucky. She is a member of several professional associations, such as American Veterinary Medical Assoc., Kentucky Veterinary Medical Assoc., American Assoc. of Small Ruminant Practitioners, American Assoc. of Bovine Practitioners, and Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society.

When did you first decide to become a veterinarian? Why?
I decided to become a veterinarian when I was in my mid 20s. There were lots of reasons: a desire to improve the welfare of farm animals, a desire to get paid for working with animals, and a desire to learn more about how animals worked and what they looked like on the inside.

How/why did you choose the veterinary school you went to?
I’m from Kentucky, so I went to the school the state has a contract with (Auburn). It offered the best odds of getting in and the lowest tab for getting out.

What surprised you the most about veterinary school?
I was surprised that the students weren’t any more mature or intellectually capable than the general undergrad population I was used to.

What was it like finding a job in your chosen career field? What were your options and why did you decide what you did?
When I graduated, I wanted to do food animal. A mixed animal practice in my husband’s home town was hiring at a salary I was willing to accept, so I took that as a good compromise. I’ve never had a problem finding a job when I’ve wanted to move on, but times have sure changed, and I think a lot harder and longer about it now than I used to.

If you had it to do all over again, would you still become a veterinarian? (Why or why not? What would you have done instead?)
I have to say I don’t know. Looking back, I can pick out the parts I enjoyed and the parts I didn’t and I can construct scenarios where I would have gotten to do more of the former with less of the latter that wouldn’t have required a DVM. But I can also put together scenarios where if I would have made different choices along the way I could have gotten a lot more of the former with my DVM than I could have without it. Hindsight’s not always 20/20.

Has being a veterinarian met your expectations? Why?
That’s a tough one. I’d have to say no, but not because there’s anything wrong with veterinary medicine; I think I had unrealistic expectations. I expected the veterinary profession to be full of vets like the ones I had known and worked for, and instead it was full of regular guys just trying to get by. I didn’t realize how lucky I had been to have the role models and teachers I did in undergrad.

What do you like most about being a veterinarian?
I like getting to solve problems, help people, save lives and alleviate suffering. I really enjoy learning from and about my clients and patients.

What do you like least about being a veterinarian?
I don’t enjoy working with staff. It’s the unrealistic expectation thing again–I have unachievably high expectations for myself and everyone around me, so I am consistently disappointed with myself and those around me.

Describe a typical day at work.
Well, right now I have a job in small animal emergency so my typical day is a night. We pull from a two-hour radius that encompasses all types of areas from well-educated well-to-do college towns to rural, poverty stricken Appalachian hollers and everything in between. We also see all types of patients–small exotics, your standard cats and dogs, the occasional bird, injured wildlife. This facility is open nights, weekends and holidays so there are no inpatients when I come in. We may have a few referrals from area veterinarians being transferred in for overnight care or monitoring when we first open at 6 p.m., then we’ll see the after work crowd who come home to find their pet has gotten sick or injured thru the day, or a chronic condition has deteriorated and needs care before their regular vet will be open again. That usually tapers off by 10 p.m. or 11 p.m.; after that we tend to see the true emergencies–dystocias, seizures, traumatic injuries, allergic reactions, trouble breathing. We also provide a lot of end-of-life care and euthanasia; it’s hard for most people to schedule an appointment for that, and in many cases it’s easier to get the whole family together for that kind of decision making on an evening or weekend.

Do you work with mid-level providers, and if so, what kind(s) (i.e. vet techs, etc.)? For most of my career I have worked primarily with on-the-job trained assistants who have no formal education beyond high school. I have worked with a few registered or licensed technicians, and love it–they really enable the provision of much better care.

On average: How many hours a week do you work? How many hours do you sleep per night? How many weeks of vacation do you take?
My current schedule is one week on, then two weeks off. So the weeks I work I am in the clinic 114 hours a week. The weeks I am off I pick up an average of one to two days relief work. I sleep four to six hours out of every 24. I don’t really think in terms of vacation, I just spend chunks of time pursuing different interests. Some interests pay me in money, some pay me in personal satisfaction or growth.

Do you have family, and if so, do you have enough time to spend with them?
Yes, I have a marriage of 17 years and two kids in elementary school. I don’t feel like I spend enough time with them, but I know full time stay at home parents who feel the same way. I think it’s hard no matter how you do it.

Are you satisfied with your income?
Yes. I’ve always been paid enough to do what I was being asked to do; if not, I found another job.

If you took out educational loans, is/was paying them back a financial strain?
I graduated with $80,000 in student loans in 2001, and that was a resident tuition rates, with no undergrad loans, a spouse who worked full time, and working close to full time myself most of the time I was in school. I’ve never had trouble making my loan payment, but it has really constrained our long term financial achievements. We’d be a lot further along the road to financial independence if we hadn’t had that payment to make every month.

In your position now, knowing what you do – what would you say to yourself 10 years ago?
Lower your expectations.

What information/advice do you wish you had known when you were pre veterinary school?
How to lower my expectations!

From your perspective, what is the biggest problem in veterinary medicine today?
Finding palatable ways to restructure the profession so we can continue to meet the needs of a global society in a rapidly changing economic and demographic environment. The needs are the same as always. We need safe, nutritious food made from happy animals in a healthy sustainable global environment. We need the wild world preserved for the benefit of our bodies and our souls. We want to keep animals close for our companionship and entertainment. Vets are the go to people for all of that. Veterinarians have a uniquely comprehensive education that offers both the hands on practical skills and the theoretical knowledge to meet those needs. In a world that gets smaller every day with advances in communication and travel, veterinary education confers a skill set capable of creating solutions to problems that transcend political, geographical and cultural boundaries. Acquiring the education, skill set and data set has become so costly we can no longer afford to be vets the way we always have. We either change the way we educate, learn and provide services to meet those needs, or they will be met by others.

Where do you see veterinary medicine in 10 years?
Ask the students, they are the ones who will determine that. In other words, all the words in the world from me mean little compared to the actions of our recent graduates and current students. Half of all U.S. veterinarians graduated within the past 15 years. In 10 years they will be reaching the midpoint of their careers and the top of their profession. Don’t ask me what the future will look like, join me in watching them create it.

What types of outreach/volunteer work do you do, if any?
I speak to groups in which my kids are involved, we have a project at their school, I speak to youth groups at our congregations; this year I am running for a volunteer position with the American Veterinary Medical Association. I also spend time collecting data on various student debt, education and compensation issues and discussing it with colleagues and professional leaders.

Do you have any final piece of advice for students interested in pursuing veterinary medicine as a career?
Be prepared to fail, odds are you will. Have a plan to cope with that, then work very hard to make your plan unnecessary.

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Comments

  1. Brian Burke Jr. says:

    I have been reading loads of information or dis-information, depending on how one wants to look at it all. First I cannot agree with the unrestrained and unprofessional attack on Dr. Pol. Unlike you he learned veterinary medicine a very long time ago, in a different world from ours today. It would then make sense to make your comments or attacks on and about him keeping that in mind. He may not practice the “new” farm animal veterinary medicine that you learned in school, but instead practices the “old” school of Vet. Medicine that was taught when he was in school. I am positive that thee are many cases in which if the two of you ran into exactly the same animal with exactly the same problem and symptoms that given his experience he could save the animal and you could not, there are certainly instances where he could diagnose and animals condition where you with your limited experience could not ending with a result in which the animal would die in your care but not in his. You can argue this, but you know that it is true. There is no substitute for extreme experience. He has it…you don’t. I am also sure that in many cases that the animals you treat would be given more anesthesia and be operated in a more sterile environment, unless the animal died on the way to the nice shiny clean operating room. To those of you who thing that the animals suffer needlessly under his care, I can tell you from my own experience, that once the body has gone into a state of complete shock, that the residual psychological damage from some extra pain will be minimal. As far as being cruel goes, you must then be of the opinion that every human mother giving birth should have a saddle block or some other form of extreme anesthesia in order to minimize the lasting psychological damage that comes from the pain of child birth. But then many women report that they have either their first or their strongest orgasm during natural child birth. So what would you do in this case? Rob the Woman of the “Big O” of her lifetime or ease her pain as it might somehow cause psychological trauma leading to her hating her child for putting her through such pain. Have you heard of the word “Context?” You seem to take things out of context regularly. Not only that but you don’t give all the facts. You are no better that the political Spin Doctors who get people who shouldn’t be elected elected. You just must be a Republican…. You seem to have no idea of what really goes on in the world in which we live.Sterile operating rooms are expensive and so in transportation. Many or most farmers are not exceedingly rich. Ever compared Dr Pols charges with the charges of a high end sterile clinic with all the modern amenities. Ever seen farmers head their cattle through the gates to go to slaughter? Ever been shocked by a cattle prod? Know what a knocker is? I do and I must say it doesn’t sound like a job I want or something I would want done to me. What about when they don’t get it right the first time and the cattle is half brain dead and the “knocker” can’t get a clear second shot? Yeah, there are still knockers in the business. People are one of the cruelest species on earth. Think for a moment about the good old gas chamber. Well, because old Adolf Hitler used CO (Carbon Monoxide) to kill so many Jews, Gypsies, Crazies and Fags (of which I am one). We had to come up with something other that what that terrible man did so what do we do? We drop a Cyanide Tablet into strong acid and the resulting gas eats the body inside and out until you are dead. Burning pus filled bubbles all over your body and in your lungs then your skin starts to basically melt off. All the while the person being put to death, often mistakenly, is screaming with the most unimaginable pain there is. The only other species that comes close to being as outright cruel as we are is our closest genetic relative, the chimpanzee. They like to rip off your testicles and the spinal erectors and bite off your fingers and tear out your eyes. I personally am a Buddhist and abhor both physical and mental violence and suffering. But before you go ruining the reputation of an old man, think about your true purpose. Who are you helping> Are you really doing anything to help end the suffering of others or yourself…really? Couldn’t you have spent your time ruining or trying to ruin this old mans reputation doing something else. I would have suggested something more on the order of going to Dr. Pol and showing him or teaching him the “new” methods that are now both medially and socially excepted, if that is in fact really the case. Or maybe he is doing to best he can with what he has and actually helping his clients more than you know by merely watching the TV show. I have seen the show, his clients look happy and satisfied. I couldn’t help but notice that he does work in a rural setting and by the looks of it the farmers are not on the Richest Men in America list, but then I may be wrong. Words for thought and contemplation…

    1. Brian Burke Jr. says:

      I just re-read your answers to the 20 questions. Wow…you are really a negative person. You talk about having expectations that are too high, for yourself and for those around you. Expectations lead to suffering. Maybe doing a Buddhist weekend retreat might help give you a different perspective and lower your anger level. I hope you can find peace in this lifetime. Peace within yourself and peace with/towards those with whom you have contact. It is unfortunate that there is so much suffering in the world. I truly hope that you can, at the very least, reduce yours, if not come close to ending it.
      Peace and Love Always,
      Brian

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