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Second Generation Veterinarian Weighs in on World Veterinary Year 2011

Posted by Dr. Rosslyn Biggs, APHIS Veterinary Medical Officer, Oklahoma in Conservation Health and Safety
Nov 17, 2011

Hello, I am Dr. Rosslyn Biggs.  I am a Field Veterinary Medical Officer (VMO) with USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services stationed in southwest Oklahoma.

My mother was also a veterinarian, so I was exposed to the profession at an early age.  She later worked as a VMO for USDA APHIS VS as well.   I always had an interest in veterinary medicine as a career because I liked the combination of animals and problem solving.  After veterinary school, I worked in a mixed animal practice for approximately three years before joining the staff at APHIS in the spring of 2007.

In my job, you get to do a bit of everything, and it is always seems to be something different.  The majority of my time is spent conducting program disease work or working with export facilities in the field.  Occasionally, I work in the Area Office evaluating export documents or serving as acting Area Veterinarian in Charge.   I also work with veterinary students and accredited veterinarians.  I am regularly called on to investigate potential foreign animal disease, and I have been fortunate enough to participate on emergency response efforts.

In fact, one of the most memorable moments of my veterinary career was working on the Exotic Newcastle Disease taskforce while I was still in veterinary school.  Since then, I have had the opportunity to be a part of several other disease incidents.

APHIS has provided me with valuable learning experiences.  I attended training at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center where I had the opportunity to see first-hand what diseases look like that most veterinarians only read about in books.   I continue to learn something new each day on the job.  The position requires you to work with individuals of diverse backgrounds.  A VMO should be able to communicate effectively, whether it’s with a small or large producer, someone producing a product for international export or merchandising in local markets.

Being a veterinarian means that very little scares me, but I will say that one species in particular is more intimidating than others…  I work annually with a bison herd that’s managed by the Department of the Interior on a wildlife refuge.  One should always be on their toes with bison.

I find my position fulfilling because I have the ability to be involved with public service, while protecting the health of the national herd and ensuring our ability to trade both domestically and internationally.