Dr. Matt Holland graduated from Drake University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2007 with a B.A. in radio and television journalism, and worked as a freelance television producer for various media outlets in Chicago and New York City including Big Ten Network, Major League Baseball Network, and the Chicago Bears. Because his work focused largely on sports and was highly seasonal, he picked up side jobs working with animals on off seasons which inspired him to eventually pursue a career in veterinary medicine. Dr. Holland then went on to Northwestern University, where he attended a post-baccalaureate program specifically designed for those seeking a second career as a doctor. He worked during the day and went to school on nights and weekends. After completing the necessary prerequisites, Dr. Holland was accepted to the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine where he served as president the Student American Veterinary Medical Association.
When he began vet school, Dr. Holland originally envisioned himself as a large animal veterinarian but a course on public health and policy changed his mind when he learned of the critically important role veterinarians can play in helping to infuse public policy with science. Dr. Holland recognized how his past professional experience in journalism and communications, combined with his DVM degree, could enable him to contribute to building the desperately needed bridges between scientists and politicians. During his fourth year of veterinary school, Dr. Holland was accepted to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Fellowship Program. He, with his wife Cara and their two cats Jasper & Ashland, moved to Washington, D.C. last summer and he began the year-long fellowship in September, 2017.
During the interview, Dr. Holland talks candidly about the mental health challenges he faced as a veterinary student. He appears to be the epitome of the successful veterinarian – and in fact, he is – but for the sake of helping future veterinarians better cope with the stresses and setbacks we all suffer in one form or another in vet school and beyond, he openly discusses his personal struggles including failing the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) the first time he took it, as well as needing to take a “mental health break” from clinical rotations during his fourth year of veterinary school. By his example, he hopes others in the profession will also be willing to share their stories of personal struggle so we can do away with the impossible picture of perfectionism so many of us try to emulate to our own detriment.
Dr. Holland also recounts entering veterinary school as a non-traditional student, originally believing his previous education and experience in communications were merely a waste. He learned during school however that they could be harnessed in combination with his DVM degree in the field of regulatory veterinary medicine. By keeping an open mind in vet school, and continually cultivating his own self awareness, he discovered a professional path that resonated deeply with his values and life objectives, though he knew nothing of this path before vet school. Dr. Holland is the perfect example of the importance of exploring the many different possibilities available in veterinary medicine, and of taking into consideration which of those paths may be most compatible with our personalities, dreams and desires.
Click here for more information on the AVMA/AAAS Fellowship.
If you’re interested in pursuing an MPH degree and your vet school doesn’t offer a dual program or you’re not currently in vet school, the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC) does offer online MPH programs. The UIC School of Public Health offers three fully online Master of Public Health (MPH) degree programs, with concentrations in Community Health Sciences, Health Policy and Administration and the only fully online MPH in Public Health Informatics (PHI) awarded by a CEPH-accredited school of public health.
If you’re a veterinary student interested in joining Dr. Holland’s Facebook Group for NAVLE test-takers, email Dr. Holland at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to read my blog post on the importance of a good night’s sleep.
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