Fall 2016

The Brainiac

A conversation with veterinary resident Laura Harvey

Laura Harvey. Photo: Andy Cunningham

NAME: Laura Harvey, V12

WHAT SHE DOES: A neurology and neurosurgery resident at Cummings School’s Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals

HER ANIMAL COMPANIONS: Magnolia, a black Labrador retriever, and Sage and Wolf, two cats that she adopted as kittens. “Ironically, during my veterinary internship, Sage developed myasthenia gravis, a severe neurological disease that interferes with the way nerves and muscles communicate and results in muscular weakness, including an inability to swallow food in Sage’s case.”

THE ROLE OF A VETERINARY RESIDENT: Very similar to residents in a human teaching hospital. “We are licensed veterinarians who have chosen to pursue advanced training in a specialty. We work as a team with a combination of interns, residents, faculty members and students.”

THE TEACHING RELATIONSHIP: Students work closely with residents to evaluate patients, interpret test results and develop and implement a treatment plan. “Residents help students start thinking like doctors. We act as mentors, teachers and often friends. Students usually feel more comfortable approaching us with questions or concerns, because we seem more approachable than a world-renowned faculty member, even though that’s not true.”

MOST HUMBLING CAREER MOMENT: When the Class of 2016 chose her as the school’s first Resident of the Year, for routinely going above and beyond for her patients and students. “I was completely blown away, because I just come to work everyday and try to the best version of myself that I can be. Some days I’m more successful than others. I think every resident here is deserving of recognition.”

MOST MEMORABLE PATIENT: An 8-week-old puppy that suffered a fractured skull after being bitten by another dog. “The puppy was comatose when he came into the ER. We removed the shattered bones and created a new top portion for his skull using titanium mesh. After almost three weeks, the puppy walked out of the hospital, a bit wobbly, but with very happy owners. We’ve since performed a second surgery to replace the original implant, because it had become too small for the growing pup. He is such an incredible dog, and he also reminds me of what an amazing organ the brain is: given enough time, it often can compensate for severe injuries.”

LIFE LESSON: “It’s not easy caring for a pet with a chronic disease. There are times that I struggle with Sage. The key to dealing with these types of medical conditions is recognizing that you can only do your best; no one is perfect. There will be days when medications are late or missed, or when you feel exhausted or frustrated, and that’s OK.”

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