Dr. Kelly Gottschalk, president of the Virginia Board of Veterinary Medicine and active member of Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, is a dedicated and enthusiastic veterinary professional who values the importance of veterinary education.

In 2001, Gottschalk and her husband, Dr. Mark Gottschalk, founded the Wellesley Animal Hospital in Richmond, Va. The hospital’s mission is to provide top-quality medical and clinical care to small animals while also delivering exceptional customer service to the animals’ owners.

To fulfill their mission, the Gottschalks strive to employ highly educated veterinarians. They say they believe that education should be a lifelong endeavor for veterinarians to ensure quality performance and treatment of animals. 

Thanks to expanded continuing education opportunities coordinated by the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, the Gottschalks can better uphold their goal to employ well-trained veterinarians.

The veterinary college provides contact hours of continuing education to local and regional veterinary practitioners through their partnership with veterinary medical associations in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

The program offers educational seminars for veterinarians, giving them the opportunity to become acquainted with the latest diagnostic and therapeutic techniques available in veterinary medicine. The veterinary college provides faculty members as the honorary speakers of these programs around the region, free of cost, for both small and large animal veterinarians.

“Practitioners always enjoy reconnecting with the college,” said Gottschalk after an event with the Central Virginia Veterinary Medical Association in Richmond. “It doesn't matter where you went to veterinary school; a lasting community is created just by the experiences we all shared.”

Contact hours of continuing education are critical to practicing veterinarians in order to stay current with veterinary techniques and information. The college’s faculty members are committed to delivering the most personal and thorough education experiences possible.

“This is a win-win situation,” said Dr. Bill Pierson, director of the college’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. “In a time when it is difficult for practice owners and their associates to attend many larger meetings, the college has the opportunity to meet the need for [continuing education] and rebrand itself as a service-oriented organization.” 

Outreach for the program has primarily taken place within the college’s immediate referral base. In the past few months, however, the program began expanding regionally. These programs enhance relevance of the college and strengthen relationships with practitioners across the region.

In order for veterinarians to maintain their licensure in Virginia, they are required to have at least 15 contact hours of continuing education per year. The veterinary college offers its services for free to assist veterinarians in achieving these requirements. Program topics are adjusted to cater to the interests and subject matter requested by the hosting Veterinary Medical Association to ensure a relevant and beneficial program.

By the end of this year, the college will have delivered more than 20 continuing education programs.

Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, dean of the college, says he continues to explore ways to re-engage the college with practitioners throughout the region and expand these opportunities. The college participated in the Potomac Regional Veterinary Conference in Washington, D.C. in mid-November, which was a huge success with more than 200 attendees. The college provided seven faculty members who spoke at the program, including Pierson.

Learn more about continuing education opportunities.

Written by Rachel McDonnell of Virginia Beach, Va., a graduate student in the Department of Communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.