Since childhood I’ve always wanted to be a veterinarian, which makes my position at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the perfect job for me. I’m Dr. Amy Winter, a Veterinary Medical Officer with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). I’m stationed at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa. I joined the staff in Ames in October 2002 – only five months after I graduated from veterinary school.
My job is to coordinate and perform the testing for the fraudulent specimen surveillance program. The goal of this program is to ensure that samples submitted for disease testing are accurately represented by the associated submission form(s). For example, if a submitter sends in 10 samples and the paperwork indicates each sample was from a different animal, tests in our lab verify the documentation. This helps prevent misrepresentation of the identity or health status of livestock and increases the confidence other countries have in our ability to export healthy, quality American livestock. The work my colleagues and I do every day is very important. While we help maintain the confidence and safety of our export markets, we make sure movements of animals within the country are safe, as well.
Not all of my work has been done in the lab. I’d only been with the USDA for a few months, when I was sent out in the field to assist in a disease outbreak. I spent time in California working as part of the team controlling the Exotic Newcastle Disease outbreak in poultry. As a relative newcomer, I performed inspections of egg processing facilities, so they could obtain permits necessary to maintain operations. Such learning experiences have resulted in my longstanding career in veterinary medicine.
APHIS and USDA are joining with organizations around the world to celebrate World Veterinary Year by highlighting the work of veterinarians on the USDA blog. This post is part of a series underscoring the important and diverse work of APHIS veterinarians. Check back each Thursday as we showcase the work of a different veterinarian.