New House Officers Welcomed

large group of veterinarians at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
The incoming class (2023) of house officers at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

New House Officers Welcomed

Focus on Wellness and DEI: Important Factors in Training Programs

The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine welcomed 60 new house officers (fellows, interns, residents) into its advanced training programs this year. The School’s House Officer Program is the largest of its kind in the United States with 140 total house officers training in 41 specialty disciplines. Their training programs range from one to four years, where the veterinarians focus on a specific aspect of specialty medicine such as cardiology, surgery, or critical care.

Most residencies will fulfill specialty colleges’ requirements for being board eligible. Once their clinical training is completed and board examinations are passed, these highly trained veterinarians become board certified specialists in their discipline of veterinary medicine.

two UC Davis veterinarians
Drs. Amandine Lejeune (left) and Jamie Burkitt (right) lead the House Officer Affairs as co-directors.

Drs. Jamie Burkitt and Amandine Lejeune lead the House Officer Affairs as co-directors, with assistance from the chief house officers. Taking over those roles this year are: Dr. Hibah Abuhamdieh, a third-year livestock herd health and reproduction resident; Dr. Alene Pohly, a second-year anatomic pathology resident; and Dr. Taylor Jackson, a second-year dermatology resident.

As chief house officers, they will work closely with the House Officer Affairs co-directors and represent the voice of all UC Davis house officers. The three new chief house officers take over for Drs. Trey Callahan and Rose Digianantonio, who recently completed their residencies in medical oncology and livestock herd health and reproduction, respectively.

“This past year, Rose and I represented the house officers with a special emphasis on open communication, accessibility, and house officer wellness,” said Dr. Callahan. “A particular item we’re proud of is working with Drs. Burkitt and Lejeune on improving New House Officer Orientation, making it a more encompassing event, and advocating for a better quality of life for all house officers.”

Dr. Pohly is looking forward to expanding house officer wellness by working to implement different activities to better the well-being of her colleagues.

Dr. Abuhamdieh agrees that wellness is a major issue to address and feels that her biggest responsibility as chief house officer will be to encourage healthy, honest conversations among house officers to address concerns and improve wellness.

three UC Davis veterinarians
Drs. Alene Pohly, Hibah Abuhamdieh, and Taylor Jackson (l. to r.) serve at chief house officers for the 2023-24 academic year at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

“I think the House Officer Wellness (HOW) Program is a great support system that allows us to help each other and connect with counselor Florence Soares-Dabalos [hospital wellness professional],” said Dr. Abuhamdieh. “As chief house officer, I hope to be able to listen to these concerns and bring these challenges to the attention of our faculty and the school, and to help create a better environment for everyone.”

Another important initiative for the HOAB is to celebrate the diverse community within the House Officer Program and to improve efforts to increase the scope of its diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. The School’s Chief Diversity Officer Monae Roberts was invited to connect with the new house officers during their orientation and discuss the meaning of being human and living in community.
“I think that fostering an environment that celebrates and craves diversity strengthens us as a community,” said Dr. Jackson. “We are able to use our collective experiences to better connect with our clients and provide the highest standards of medicine to their pets. My goal is to always have people feel like they are represented, and their individual differences or needs are appreciated.”

This year, the New House Officer Orientation allowed various facilitators to provide information on working at the School, familiarize the new house officers with the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) and other areas of campus, and showcase the resources available to them. Many of the veterinarians had the opportunity to meet hospital leadership, faculty mentors, and resident mates, as well as meet Dean Mark Stetter and attend a mixer organized with the support of Hill’s Pet Nutrition and the HOW Program, which is supported by Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health.

Following their three-day New House Officer Orientation, the clinicians began their duties August 1 at the VMTH and other training facilities, including Sacramento Zoo, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Safari Park, California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory, Wildlife Health Center, California National Primate Research Center, Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center, and Marine Mammal Center.

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