Veterinary students receive 2023 AAHA Award for Proficiency in Primary Care
AAHA Practice Consultant Manager Margaret Spalletta presented the award to Matthew Boules, DVM, of Midwestern University College of Veterinary Medicine
Rising veterinary talent is something we can all celebrate, and AAHA has once again worked with the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges Primary Care Veterinary Educators to recognize exceptional fourth-year students attending a veterinary college with an AAHA-accredited teaching hospital.
This year, 28 dedicated students from across North America, from Florida to Saskatchewan to Washington and beyond, received the prestigious award for their exceptional clinical proficiency in primary care along with their commitment to patient-centered care and the human-animal bond.
Each of these students was nominated by a faculty member at their school for demonstrating achievements above and beyond during their time in veterinary school. Only one student from each AAHA-accredited veterinary teaching hospital is accepted as a nominee and award winner each year.
Honoring the exceptional
Like many veterinarians, 2023 winner Becca Melkun, DVM, of University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine was interested in caring for animals long before she entered vet school.
“Growing up as a child, we always had an animal, most generally two or three, in our home. They were our fur-babies and in our household perceived to be more like family members than pets,” she said. “It is that life-long love for and connection with animals that led me to focus on primary care. Animals, and more specifically cats and dogs, are vulnerable creatures. For the most part, they lack the ability to advocate for themselves when in need of attention or care. Having completed my studies, I look forward to being an advocate for animals in need and to assist their respective owners with their care.”
Melkun said it was an honor to receive the AAHA award. “My veterinarian journey has not been an easy one because of health issues,” she said. “I am humbled to have been nominated for the award and I am so very grateful for and thankful to those that have supported me in this journey.”
It’s not only the students winning this award who feel a sense of enthusiasm about it; the excitement is shared by AAHA, too, said Margaret Spalletta, AAHA practice consultant manager, who had the opportunity to present the award to Matthew Boules, DVM, of Midwestern University College of Veterinary Medicine.
“It was an honor to present this year’s award to Matthew and showcase his love of awareness for AAHA,” Spalletta said. “AAHA values the relationship with Midwestern University and are proud to be a partner with such an astute veterinary teaching hospital.”
The winners receive more than just recognition—there are prizes* too:
- 5 years of complimentary AAHA membership (limited to the 5 consecutive years after graduation); which includes a subscription to print Trends magazine and digital subscriptions to Trends and JAAHA, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association.
- A free subscription to AAHA Learning, AAHA’s online CE platform along with a $500 credit per year to be used on any AAHA product or service (credit does not carry over from year to year, and it expires after four years).
- Formal announcements of the award in AAHA publications.
- A personalized plaque, congratulatory letter, and press release for use by the university or student.
*Please note that some restrictions on prizes may apply, depending on the educational institution and state regulations.
Shining examples from coast to coast
The winners of the 2023 AAHA Award for Proficiency in Primary Care represented 28 veterinary schools from around the United States and Canada.
- Gloria Petri – Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine
- Andrea Russell – The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine
- Sarah Tucci – UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
- Jacqueline Babin – Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine
- Matthew Dykstra – Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine
- Kristen Back – Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine
- Bailey Patillo – University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine
- Julia Carlin – NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine
- Peri Barnes – University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine
- Prem Patel – University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine
- Haley Garcia – Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine
- Alyssa Vickers – University of Saskatchewan- Western College of Veterinary Medicine
- Rebecca Frank – University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine
- Keegan McElroy – Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine
- Taylor O'Malley – Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine
- Cearra Burt – University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Veterinary Medicine
- Matthew Boules – Midwestern University College of Veterinary Medicine
- Haleigh Marie Hixson – Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
- Adele La Haye – University of Montreal
- Ansleigh Banks – Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine
- Mark Austin Lawrence – Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine
- Mary Johnson – Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine
- Mackenzie Avey – University of Guelph Ontario Veterinary College
- Becca Melkun – University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine
- Bethany Hughes – University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine
- Kaylee Endres – Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine
- Sierra Carless – Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine
- Rebecca Woodaman – Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
Congratulations to all this year’s winners!
Nominate a student in 2024
Educators interested in nominating a student for the 2024 AAHA Award for Proficiency in Primary Care should watch for an email in January 2024 announcing the start of the nomination process. The criteria and nomination details will be available online, and educators can fill out the nomination form once they’ve decided on their hospital’s winner for the year.
Photo courtesy of AAHA
Disclaimer: The views expressed, and topics discussed, in any NEWStat column or article are intended to inform, educate, or entertain, and do not represent an official position by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) or its Board of Directors.