Carla Phillips Savage recently joined the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine as an associate professor of practice in aquatic animal medicine. Savage works within the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine (CPCVM), which prepares veterinary students to enter the public and corporate sectors of veterinary medicine and provides resources to established veterinarians looking for a career change.

“Dr. Savage has a great background in aquatic medicine, which a number of students are interested in. She will have a large role in teaching and expanding the offerings of the CPCVM as we scale up to serve as a national center of excellence in public and corporate veterinary medicine. We are really excited to have someone with her background, experience, and engaging personality join our Center,” said Valerie Ragan, director of the CPCVM. 

After being involved in curriculum and program development in addition to clinical, research and laboratory diagnostic duties at her previous position at The University of the West Indies, Savage decided to step back from clinical work to further pursue mentorship and curriculum and program development within veterinary medicine. 

Savage will aid in the development of the public/corporate track for veterinary students, bringing her experience in zoological and aquatic medicine (wildlife and aquaculture) with the goal of facilitating access to diverse veterinary career path opportunities outside of private clinical practice and establishing international veterinary externships in those areas.

"My number one priority is helping to teach, mentor and advise students, especially those wanting to get into aquatic veterinary medicine, to help guide them to a wide range of professional development opportunities where they can gain experience in any of the many areas of veterinary medicine outside of private practice that they reckon would be a good personal fit for them. This would also extend to working with graduate veterinarians who have recognized a personal need for a career shift and are seeking guidance on how they can successfully find an alternative path within veterinary medicine that better aligns with their current life circumstances. Secondly, I want to advance opportunities where One Health is focal. I want to ensure that students graduate with a solid understanding of One Health and how they can  use its principles to approach each of their cases or professional tasks holistically. Thirdly, I want to promote aquatic health in general: fish health, marine mammal health, sea turtle health, aquatic environmental and ecosystem health and management. My goal is to identify or, where necessary, create student experiences and guide interested students so they can best hone these skills,” said Savage.

One Health is the highly interdisciplinary, collaborative approach that human, animal, and environmental health are inextricably linked. As Savage explains, "It's not just about animal sciences, it's about all the other disciplines, including social sciences; it's about communication—how do we communicate about disease outbreaks to the human population? How do things in the environment affect human and animal health, and conversely, how do anthropogenic factors impact animal and environmental health? Public, animal and environmental health problems are typically multifactorial in origin and therefore require multidisciplinary approaches to problem-solving."

Savage earned her DVM and her master of philosophy in food animal medicine at The University of the West Indies before earning her PhD in veterinary medical sciences  (aquatic animal medicine) at the University of Florida.