Featured Professor Dr. Kara McArdell, DVM
"There is nothing like the feeling of shared excitement and thrills, with someone you are mentoring"
My name is Dr. Kara McArdell and I am currently a Clinical Assistant Professor in Emergency Medicine at Midwestern University, College of Veterinary Medicine. I joined the faculty at MWU the summer of 2018.
What made you pursue work in emergency/critical care? My first exposure to emergency medicine was around 15 years ago, working as an assistant in a busy private practice small animal emergency clinic. The rapid pace, excitement, multitasking, thinking on your feet, teamwork, and delegation of important tasks I witnessed was thrilling and awe-inspiring, to say the least. Unstable cases, especially trauma related, are very challenging. Being able to stabilize a critical patient is a stimulating and rewarding accomplishment. I love a good challenge! No day is quite like another. Emergency veterinarians have to somewhat be a “jack-of-all trades”, and can have a short attention span (SQUIRREL!! = totally me!). I also love all types of emergency procedures, from simple laceration repairs to emergency GDV surgery, to a thoracentesis on a respiratory distress patient.
Why did you want to be a professor? I love teaching and mentoring eager people in the profession, from veterinary students to the receptionists. People have always been able to relate to me with how I approach cases in a practical and easy to understand way. I am grateful to be in the role of working with 4th year students during their rotations, teaching them “day-one ready” skills as well as fine-tuning their knowledge and critical thinking so they succeed during their first days and weeks out in practice. There is nothing like the feeling of shared excitement and thrills, with someone you are mentoring. The collaborative work environment at my institution is also a big motivating factor of why I made the transition to academia after 8 years of private practice emergency work.
What emerging topic is most interesting to you in veterinary medicine right now? The use of cannabinoids for numerous conditions in veterinary medicine is starting to emerge. Although there is very little research out now, there are a few promising published studies and there are continuous projects looking into if and how cannabinoids can help improve the quality of life of our veterinary patients. There is a large amount of evidence supporting its use in human medicine, and I find it very interesting that we are now starting to look at its use in veterinary medicine with prospective, controlled studies.
What advice would you have for yourself as a veterinary student? The best advice I would give to students is taken from a quote from the Life is Good company: “Do what you love, love what you do”. This applies both to your career path and your personal life. A good balance of work and life is a must. You need to find what drives you, and what will make you excited to go to work every day. If you don’t find what drives you in veterinary medicine, compassion fatigue and burnout are real problems. Having a life balance is something I am also very passionate about. You need to also find things outside of work that bring happiness and fulfillment to your life, and make sure to take time to do those things. Some examples are baking, meditating, pleasure reading, lifting weights at the gym, yoga, painting, world travel, and volunteer work. I find joy in a few of these myself! We must take good care of ourselves first, before we can be the best and taking care of our patients.