Jessica Cowley has recently joined the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine as an assistant clinical professor. In this position, Cowley is part of the Production Management Medicine (PMM) team, which provides on-the-farm care for animals within a 35-mile radius of Blacksburg. Cowley will teach students completing their PMM rotations.

"This is by far the most robust ambulatory department I've seen, and I really appreciate how this university uses the PMM department to really teach vet students what real life large animal veterinarians do," said Cowley. The college's PMM veterinarians are the primary clinicians for many of the clients they see, which means that students will see more than just referral cases.

Cowley comes from a family of educators, so she has long known that academia would be in her future. While in veterinary school at the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, she decided to pursue board certification immediately following graduation. After earning her veterinary degree in 2019, she stayed at Mississippi State to complete a large animal internship, then completed a food animal theriogenology residency at Auburn University.

She is a diplomate of the American College of Theriogenologists. Theriogenology interests her because it is a combination of medicine and surgery as well as individual and population medicine.

With PMM, Cowley will do more than only theriogenology work, and she will work with veterinary students from all tracks.

"I'm excited for the mentorship opportunities I'll have here, but I also appreciate that all vet students go through PMM, not just the food animal trackers. That experience is good for passing boards — but, for example, there's a lot of pet goats out there now, and there's no reason a small animal practitioner can't see a pet goat. Because of that, I think everybody should go through PMM,” she said.

As an educator, Cowley wants students to feel safe and to be comfortable to ask questions. Most of all, she wants them to develop problem-solving skills. 

"We can't teach them everything they'll need to know to be a veterinarian in the real world, but if I can teach them how to problem solve, then when they come across something, they'll know the steps to take to work through that problem."

Written by Sarah Boudreau M.F.A. '21, a writer with the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.


Andrew Mann
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