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  News from the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association                                                    Summer  2013

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Meet VRMCVM's Outstanding Graduate for 2013

Rachel Baum of Gaithersburg, Maryland has been named as the outstanding graduate of VMRCVM’s Class of 2013, recognizing her significant academic achievements, extracurricular activities, service to the school and community, and her leadership.

Dr. Baum excelled academically and received the 2010 Tyler J. and Frances F. Young Scholarship. In 2013, she was awarded the American College of Veterinary Surgeons Award, the Amy L. McDermott Memorial Scholarship, and the Southwest Virginia Veterinary Medical Association Scholarship. She was also named the 2013 Outstanding Student Ambassador in recognition of her passion, enthusiasm, and professionalism when representing the college.
Baum served as chair of the college’s Honor Board, as well as a college ambassador. She served as an on-call student veterinary technician for two and a half years and was a North American Veterinary Conference student representative for two years.

Once completing her master’s degree in public health this fall as part of the school’s combined DVM/MPH program Rachel hopes to expand and solidify her clinical skills in private practice. After that she hopes to combine her love for travel and work with a career in the federal government.

Like many veterinarians Rachel is a long-time animal lover. Born in DC, and raised in Gaithersburg by her proud parents, Kris and Michael Baum, Rachel began her work with animals by corralling the family’s cats inside the fort she built with her sister. She later became fascinated by marine mammals, especially dolphins. Volunteering at a local veterinary clinic in high school introduced her to veterinary medicine; and, lucky for us, Rachel’s mom suggested she consider it her future career.

Rachel speaks fondly of her durable and nurturing mentorship with Dr. Meredith Miklozek, now retired, of Diamond Veterinary Hospital in Gaithersburg. Rachel worked at the clinic for seven years, growing from student volunteer to skilled technician under the tutelage of Dr. Miklozek. Her employment at the hospital continued until veterinary school, and gave her the confidence that veterinary medicine was a good fit for her.

Rachel also has many faculty supporters at VMRCVM. Dr. Jacque Pelzer, director of admissions and student services at the veterinary college writes, “Rachel is the full package,” she said. “Not only is she passionate, caring and kind, but she’s well liked by classmates, faculty, and clients who have recognized the special qualities about her.” Dr. Pelzer compliments Rachel for taking the initiative to arrange a very unique senior externship with Australia’s Healesville sanctuary near Melbourne.

While visiting the sanctuary’s veterinary center on a family cruise in 2008 Rachel was impressed by the hospital’s design for accessibility. The facility promotes public awareness and involvement by permitting access to the surgery suite and triage areas through glass walls and closed circuit TV viewing. Rachel was determined to make it back for an in depth experience, and she did so in the spring of 2013, spending 3 weeks working with injured or ill animals from the Zoos Victoria’s collections or surrendered by the public or wildlife rehabilitators, known as carers. Despite securing a travel scholarship from the school she still had significant out of pocket expenses for room and board. She was challenged to find suitable housing and had to take some long bus rides, but it’s clear she has no major regrets about this working visit down under.

She has many great memories of her time at the sanctuary, finding it hard to choose a favorite one or two: “We had a kangaroo named Donny who came to us once a week with his carer for a bandage change and debridement. He was caught in the Donnybrook fires a few weeks earlier and [was] found standing in hot ash with severe burns on both feet and hands. I started seeing him about 4 weeks after his initial presentation but already he was improving immensely. He had to wear bandages on all four limbs for at least 5 weeks, but while I was there we were able to leave his hands free. Reportedly, he was very excited when he was free to use his hands again.” “A young wombat (see the picture) came in for shifting leg lameness (started on the left rear and moved to her right rear) so we took radiographs and found an old fracture on the left limb. We performed a joint tap on her right knee and found some inflammatory cells so we put her on a course of antibiotics. When she came back for the recheck she was doing much better and walking without a limp.”

Her travel adventures will likely continue, but Rachel will spend this summer in Blacksburg chilling with her rescued pets, cats Porthos and Kiwi, and hedgehog Spiny Norman; playing board games; reading; and enjoying frozen treats.

We congratulate her for being the outstanding graduate of her vet school class, and wish her the best on what will likely be an illustrious career!

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© 2013 Maryland Veterinary Medical Association

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