Dr. Lindsey Shields is the Director of Training of the Global Health Program at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. Dr. Shields studied Animal Science as an undergraduate student at Virginia-Tech and earned her DVM degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in 2011, where she took the public-corporate track with a focus on Public Health and Epidemiology. Immediately after graduating, Dr. Shields began her career as a consultant for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). While with the FAO, she spent two years in Rome focusing on wildlife health and ecology issues, and another year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia working on food safety programs in East Africa. As the Intervention Manager for the Livestock and Leather Industry for DAI, an international development company, Dr. Shields spent another 10 months in Addis Ababa researching the livestock and leather sectors in Ethiopia to identify business opportunities to benefit the poor. During the two years immediately preceding her current position at the Smithsonian Institution, Dr. Shields was an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer in the Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch at the CDC, during which time she participated in various international responses including the Typhoid Fever Outbreak Response in Zimbabwe, the Cholera Outbreak Response in Tanzania and the Ebola Outbreak Response in Sierra Leone.
During our talk, Dr. Shields and I discuss:
- How she always thought she’d end up as an Equine Veterinarian, and what changed her mind
- Some of her amazing experiences as a fourth year veterinary student on the public corporate track
- How her rotation in Rome as a vet student turned into a job offer that lead to a two years working in Rome, and another year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- What it was like to live in Addis Ababa
- The many, varied projects she worked on while with the FAO, and the self-directed learning required
- Her advice on advocating for yourself and negotiating salary increases
- The fellowship she completed at the CDC and her experiences being a part of the response team to the Ebola Outbreak in Sierra Leone, including the importance of considering cultural differences in international work
- How the Global Health Program at the Smithsonian developed, and is now based at the National Zoo
- The responsibilities of her current position, which are focused on international capacity building, wildlife health research and emerging infectious diseases, which includes working with the PREDICT Project in Myanmar and Kenya
The Epidemiology Elective Program (EEP) introduces medical and veterinary students to applied epidemiology, public health, and global health* through hands-on experience and mentorship by CDC subject matter experts. This program offers 6- or 8-week rotations largely based at CDC in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dr. Shields has generously offered guidance if you’re seriously considering pursuing this fellowship and can be reached at email@example.com
Click here to watch the video of this interview on YouTube.
If you would like to thank Dr. Shieds for sharing her amazing stories to inspire future veterinarians to stay open, think outside the box, think big, take risks, and “be brave”, please consider making a donation to her favorite charity, City Dogs Rescue in DC.
If you’d like to read a good primer about epidemiology, The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson tells an intriguing story about the 1854 cholera outbreak in London and the birth of epidemiology.
For a book that specifically covers the EIS program, Dr. Shields recommends Inside the Outbreaks: The Elite Medical Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service. She says it’s full of stories about how the EIS program came to be and great short stories about the work that EIS officers have done on major international disease outbreaks. I just started reading this myself!
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