The Washington National Primate Research Center supports outstanding research directed towards significant human health issues and nonhuman primate health and biology. In order to accomplish this mission, we carefully monitor the health and well-being of our animals. We are proud of the high quality animal care that is provided by our personnel. The BioBulletin newsletter will include interviews with various staff to help explain their roles in the Center’s scientific mission.
The following is an interview with one of our clinical veterinarians.
Interview with Carolyn Malinowski, MS, DVM, CMAR, CPIA, DACLAM
What factors led you to a career as a veterinarian?
My decision to become a veterinarian originally started as a career move. I had been working in the laboratory animal field for 10 years, first as a vet tech and then as the manager of a training program and decided that I wanted to get into higher levels of management, but that required a veterinary degree. So I decided to hedge my bets and apply for vet school with the sole purpose of becoming a laboratory animal veterinarian.
Tell us a little bit more about your background and education; and how it contributes to your foundation in primate care?
I’m a bit of an education junkie- I have a BS in Zoology, a MS in Biology, and a DVM. I hold certifications for RLATG, CMAR, and CPIA; and have attended ILAM. However, none of this really prepared me for working with NHPs. As a trainer, I taught researchers and staff the basics of NHP safety and zoonotic disease prevention, but it wasn’t until my residency when I really worked with NHPs on a daily basis.
As part of my residency at the University of Florida, we spent 12 weeks at the Mannheimer Foundation in South Florida. Mannheimer is an outdoor breeding facility spread across 2 locations housing rhesus, cynos, and hamadryas baboons. It was while working there that I fell in love with monks and decided that my ultimate dream lab animal vet job would be with NHPs.
What is your role as a veterinarian at the Center?
I am one of the clinical veterinarians at the Arizona Breeding Center.
What challenges are you working to overcome?
The veterinary technicians and I provide anesthesia support for all research projects. Additionally, I perform surgeries required for the studies, including laparoscopic biopsies, gastrointestinal surgery, and placement of indwelling vascular catheters. I’m also involved in selecting animals for studies based on their clinical history and infectious disease status. Finally, I help researchers and support staff with protocol review and development.
What challenges are you working to overcome?
At the moment, we are very close to opening the new building in Arizona and doubling our animal numbers. Our biggest challenge will be to learn to work with these new animals in a totally new environment.
What are your vet-related goals for the future?
I’m currently working on a few projects that will hopefully lead to a publication or two. I’d also like to continue to grow as a veterinarian by increasing my clinical skills and knowledge.
What should Center personnel and the public know about animal care at the Arizona Breeding Colony?
I’m impressed on a daily basis with the level of care the animals receive and by the dedication of our animal care and veterinary staff. Their attention to detail in being able to pick out an injured or sick animal is unparalleled; they have hawk eyes! They also put in an incredible amount of overtime to provide overnight care for animals in the nursery. Every single person at the ABC is invested in the care and wellbeing of these animals and takes great pride in keeping them healthy and happy. They really truly make my job easy because they catch clinical issues before they become a major health problem!
What strategies did you utilize in order to balance your work duties and studying for the ACLAM boards?
When I started at UW in July 2018, I was introduced to 2 other UW vets who were sitting for the 2019 ACLAM exam. We formed a study group and started studying in September (the exam was the following July). Starting early and having a study group were definitely keys to our exam success (we all passed!). Work duties came first during the day, and any down time was spent studying. Everyone in my study group pretty much completely gave up our social lives from September to July to dedicate time to studying- it became a part time job and we were putting in 25-30 hours a week for study. But, in the end, it paid off and was worth all the time and dedication!
Please describe your experience with the exam?
I had to fly to Washington DC to take the exam. Rather than staying at the hotel where the exam was held, I stayed with friends as a distraction tool and to help keep my pre-exam jitters to a minimum. I flew in early in the week to allow myself to get onto the correct time zone and studied during the day while friends worked. I didn’t study the day before the exam. I went out with friends to the Baltimore aquarium and had lunch on the harbor to keep my mind off the exam.
The exam was held on a Sunday morning, so I got there early and there was a lot of “hurry up and wait” as everyone got checked in at the exam desk. When I opened the exam booklet and started the exam, I was surprised by how “normal” the whole process felt. By that time, we had done countless mock exams and answered thousands of mock questions, so the real exam pretty much just felt the same. There were definitely questions I knew and others I couldn’t even make an educated guess on, so I had no idea how I had done on the exam. The hard part was the mental game after the exam- second guessing yourself, looking up questions and answers, and then having to wait a few weeks for the results. It all felt very anticlimactic; I didn’t really feel any relief that it was over and didn’t want to celebrate until the results were released. While I waited for results, I planned for failure and plotted what I would do differently the second time around but hoped for the best. Needless to say, I was incredibly relieved to have passed the exam and am still smiling about passing!
Did you have a mentor through this process?
Yes!! MANY of them!!! I have many friends that are already ACLAM boarded vets and they all provided mentoring and support throughout the process.