Vet Spotlight: Dr. Price is a voice for diversity in vet med

Vet Spotlight: Dr. Price is a voice for diversity in vet med - Vetster

Meet Dr. Price, a graduate of Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, who is currently a travel emergency veterinarian living in Louisville, KY. Dr. Price enjoys helping loving pet parents stay on top of their dog's health with guidance on care, nutrition, and preventatives to live the healthiest life possible. She also created the BlackDVM Network for Black vets to connect and support each other.

“My favorite part is that Vetster makes veterinary care accessible and at the same time affordable. Clients are paying for my consultation without any overhead.”

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I developed a deep love for animals, especially dogs, and devoted most of my childhood writing assignments to persuading my parents into getting me a pet. At six years old, I was dressing as a veterinarian for career day and my mind was made up. Becoming a veterinarian was the career I would pursue. A lot of my time was spent watching Eddie Murphy as Dr. Doolittle, who I later realized served as my only representation of a black veterinarian (until I was halfway through college). I wore an oversized white coat and carried around a stuffed dalmatian on my first-grade career day. I grew up thinking that I was going to be one of the first black veterinarians because I had never seen any. Since my mom was adamant that I couldn’t have a pet, most of my animal experience throughout my childhood was with animals at my local shelter.

In 2018, while attending the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, I created BlackDVM Network for Black vets to connect with people who looked like me. I did this because I felt like I was going into a profession I didn’t really belong in. BlackDVM Network has grown into a member community of 130+ Black professionals, with the vision of empowering Black veterinarians, technicians, assistants, and students. We offer community, webinars, discounts, and resources to our members who are true thought-leaders in the veterinary industry and are ready to make a difference. Our mission is to develop successful professionals who can inspire others from diverse backgrounds. As a profession that is more than 90% White and less than 2% Black, we hope to change the “norm” and show pet owners as well as aspiring veterinarians that (even if it’s a small number) there are veterinary professionals they can relate to.

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I moved a lot after graduation. My first job was in Los Angeles, CA where I practiced high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter and community medicine in South LA. While in LA, I was recruited by the Veterinary Emergency Group (VEG) into their Fellowship Program in Brooklyn, NY to become a new ER doctor. VEG has multiple hospitals in NY and NJ and because NY and NJ are so close together, I got a NJ license. While working at VEG, I started talking with another veterinarian about acquiring general practices from soon-to-be retired veterinarians in Atlanta, GA, so I moved to Atlanta in late 2022 and obtained a GA license. As life would have it, I ended up back in Kentucky and as luck would have it, I’m acquiring a practice here in Louisville, Kentucky that will open in January 2024! Since my new practice is located very close to the Indiana border, I also have acquired an Indiana license to be able to practice across the river. In total, I have 6 licenses: CA, KY, IN, NY, NJ, GA.

As it relates to the Vetster platform, this allows me to help so many more pets because I’m able to see pets from all different places.

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Virtual care increases accessibility to veterinary care so much. When I’m in the clinic (especially outside of Emergency) doing General/Community Practice, most of the appointments are a consultation—me answering questions about their pets. I think that virtual care helps people who struggle to bring their pets (either due to transportation, accessibility, or work-related issues among others) or are in an area where there are not many veterinarians, and they can’t get an appointment. People can take information that they can get from a virtual consultation and use that to help them in the interim before seeing a veterinarian in person. Virtual care doesn’t completely replace in-person visits, but it bridges the gaps, and allows for more pets to have better access to health care.

I learned about Vetster in 2020. I signed up when I only had my CA license. When I started using Vetster, I enjoyed how user- friendly it was. I was there in 2020 when there was only 1 video on the help page, and it expanded so much. I really like how easy it is to talk to clients, complete the medical records, and to get medications (if I was allowed to prescribe by the state regulations). When I was in California, I would use Vetster to find new clients. Back in 2020, CA regulations were pretty firm, and all pets had to have a physical examination on file before prescribing any medications. The people I would meet on Vetster would come see me at my job for the physical exam so that we can start to prescribe medications through this platform.

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I met this one special client at VEG in NY. They came in for bloody stool from their dog and they had a lot of other non—emergency questions. We started talking about diet, exercise and treats. The client was with her daughter, and the daughter said to me, “I’ve never seen a vet that looks like you or a vet that looks like me. I’m so happy that we came into the ER on this night knowing that you travel back and forth to Kentucky, and somehow the universe worked in a way that our paths crossed. We really wish that we could see you as our regular veterinarian and could make more appointments with you.” I responded, “I wish I could, but I don’t live here, and I only work in Emergency, so honestly our paths may never cross again especially in the ER setting.” As they were leaving, I told them about the Vetster platform that I use for telehealth and since I had seen their dog, and I’d given him a physical examination, I should be able to prescribe medications. I wrote down my Vetster profile and gave it to them. To this day, I still see them through Vetster! They make an appointment with me once every couple months. We’re working through a chronic problem with the dog. In Emergency, I would have to tell them that they must find a Primary Care Vet, but because of Vetster, we’re able to maintain that relationship. Also, because it’s food and possibly allergy/sensitivity issues that the dog is having, it’s mostly consultations and check-ins that we are doing, and me making recommendations on how to adjust the plan to make sure that we’re getting to the bottom of the root cause. I love that Vetster enabled me to form and maintain this relationship!

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My favorite part is that I can see an appointment from my house, from the road, or from my phone. I don’t have to see appointments or commit to working all day. Maybe I have an appointment or so and then can go about my day. It’s really nice for me because a lot of what I do on Vetster really does challenge the idea of why it's required to have only in-person consultations and to not allow telemedicine. These people are in their homes and so happy that they can talk to a vet and get medication. They’re just happy to be able to have a consultation with a veterinarian. My favorite part is that Vetster makes veterinary care accessible and at the same time affordable. Clients are paying for my consultation without any overhead.

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I think that state regulations are most people’s hesitation, or at least that was mine. I would think to myself, “I don’t want to get in trouble, I don’t want to have my license revoked for doing something that I shouldn’t.” I found that if you are worried about something, just don’t do it! Stick with the consultation and let people know that the laws and regulations don’t allow you to do that, but you’re happy to give all the information that they need to move forward.

What I do for people, especially if I’m talking to them in a state where I cannot prescribe medication (which can often be unrewarding for the client), is tell them “You are paying for a peace of mind that your pet is fine, or you’re paying for instructions to go see a vet immediately which could save your pet’s life”. I think that is what is rewarding to me. I had hesitation around whether people would be upset if they paid for a consultation, and they didn’t get anything from it. I make sure that people can leave with as much value as possible. If they do go see a vet, I also list out my recommendations stating what I would do if I saw this pet in the clinic and include recommended diagnostics. That way they are walking in with a first opinion, and they feel more empowered in their decision making because they have more information and education. Having 2 vets say the same thing is better than just 1.

Most people are grateful for advice in general or for over-the-counter recommendations. If you have reservations about laws/regulations, err on the side of caution and don’t prescribe. If you have hesitations about people being upset that you cannot prescribe, just know that you can add value by providing that first opinion. I always tell clients that they can message me to let me know what the results are, and I’m always happy to give a second opinion. I also usually schedule a free follow up for anyone that I recommend being seen in person and I send them a link with a code for a free follow up because I want to know the outcome.

Vetster would like to remind you that…

  1. The VVCA virtual care map is an easy way to find the relevant legislation for each state or province.

  2. If you're uncertain about interpreting the statutes for yourself, the best way to get accurate clarification is to seek legal counsel (not ask other colleagues).

Check out our vet blog on providing a great virtual care experience here!

If you're interested in being featured in our blog, please contact Jennifer, our Manager of Veterinary Success by emailing jennifer@vetster.com.

The Vetster Editorial Team is comprised of seasoned writers and communicators dedicated to elevating stories about Vetster, pets and their owners.
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