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Interview with Dr. Courtney Campbell, Star of Nat Geo WILD’s Pet Talk

Have you been watching Nat Geo WILD’s Pet Talk? If not, you’ve missed an informative show that strives to bridge the gap between concerned pet owners and knowledgeable veterinarians in a friendly and informative format. 

For full disclosure, I went on a casting call for Pet Talk but was not selected. With that said, I have to pay respects (and props) to my fellow veterinarians, Drs. Courtney Campbell and Tina Olivieri, for their work and the positive messages conveyed by show.

I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Campbell about his life and times as a practicing veterinarian and media contributor. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: What events in your upbringing led you to want to become a veterinarian?

A: I describe my early interest in animals as being like a moth attracted to a flame. My fascination with their uniqueness has never diminished. Their magnetism was so strong that it lead me to beg my parents for a puppy when I was 10 years old. This was not usually a heavy lift for most families, but my parents weren’t exactly pet people. Despite their misgivings, I was gifted a yellow Labrador puppy from a local animal shelter. I remember at the age of 10 feeling connected to my first dog like I had a new best friend. We were inseparable physically and emotionally. Then tragedy struck. She died giving birth to a litter of puppies and it rocked me to my emotional core. At that moment, I realized that it’s only when you’ve lost everything that you have the ability to gain everything. I vowed to never let her death be in vain. So, I embarked on a path that would help me save other animals. What I discovered during my educational and professional journey is that veterinary medicine is one of the few professions where you can help both animals and families. By restoring an animal’s health and happiness, you are also doing the same for the non-furry members of that family. There have been a few tragic losses in my life relating to my pets, but they all have helped reinvigorate my passion for improving the lives of animals.

Q: What are your favorite aspects of veterinary medicine and what are your professional goals in veterinary medicine?

A: My favorite aspects of veterinary medicine are the humility and the respect it invokes. Every day I learn something new. Each day, I am humbled by how each patient has a distinctive character, unique personality and, in many cases, an idiosyncratic response to medical conditions. I have spent seven years involved in advanced surgical training because that is my true love. After three specialty internships and a surgical residency, I hope to complete the full surgery credentials in a few months. Within the surgical discipline, joint disease and joint resurfacing is exciting. It’s a field that continues to innovate based off of contemporaneous research. I wake up every day excited to learn how to improve the mobility of dogs and cats.

Q: How did you get involved in media and what are your professional goals in media?

A: Being in the media is fun! But, that was never my goal. Simply put, I never believed that possibility could be explored. Occasionally, I saw television programs that included physicians and other human specialists but veterinarians were the forgotten specialists. They never were considered part of the team of medical professionals that people call on every day. There are veterinary heroes working in the trenches every day, putting in long hours, and saving countless lives and they were passed over for more “entertaining” guest experts. Then the tide started to turn. Media outlets began to realize just how strong the interest was in veterinary medicine. The bottom line is that I just love educating clients and I love learning new things. I think clients can feel that passion. People love their pets and they want to be involved in their pet’s healthcare. My goal is to create entertaining and educational content so that all pet owners feel even closer to the furry members of their family.   

Q: What advice do you have for new graduates or experienced veterinarians to best use conventional and social media for business purposes (i.e. to represent our best, professional selves)?

A: Swim with the tide and stay nimble. Those should be the prevailing sentiments when considering social media for business. As the role of social media continues to grow in veterinary medicine it is important to embrace the trend. Approximately, 65 percent of American households have a pet and approximately 65 percent of adults use social media. I suspect that those numbers will only continue to grow. It’s a symbiotic relationship. As more people see their friends and peers enjoying a life with their pets on social media, it will stimulate more people to adopt pets into their homes and post it on social media.

Veterinarians should use the social media movement to their advantage. Social media is free, it’s popular, it appeals to all ages, it can be tailored for personal or professional needs, it can extend your brand and your relationship with clients and, most importantly, it’s everywhere! Stay nimble with the social media zeitgeist by diversifying your outreach to a variety of social media outlets. Where it’s content-based social media (i.e., YouTube, Flickr), personality-based social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), or interest-based social media (groups, threads, blogs), diversifying your brand is the key to reaching neglected demographic groups and representing your name and business. 

Q: What can the PetTalk audience expect to learn by watching the show?

A: Just the originality of the show will make it stand out. It’s the first of its kind: a primetime talk show about pets geared for pet owners from all backgrounds. We integrate information about animals you find in nature with the topical issues about the animals who live in our houses. This is unlike any other medical show that has ever existed because it’s relaxed, comfortable, and tackles a range of issues. From poignant stories about people whose lives have been saved by animals, to critical information that could save your pet’s life we try to cover a lot of ground. This show is “must-see-TV” for anyone who has a pet or knows someone who has a pet. Even other veterinary professionals, including veterinarians, would enjoy seeing what kinds of questions their clients are asking. The show is fun, upbeat, and essentially celebrates the depth of the human-animal bond. Even if you aren’t a fan of pets or animals, this show gives useful information, in an entertaining way, which anyone would find interesting. But, if you are indeed a fan of pets, then I suggest giving this show a watch to see the real stars: the animals. You never know whether an adorable miniature pig or a majestic snake could be just around the corner.

Besides visiting the Nat Geo WILD Pet Talk website, you can catch episodes on Friday evenings at 10 p.m. EST.

Thank you Dr. Courtney for participating in this interview and I look forward to seeing more episodes of PetTalk. If you ever need input on holistic veterinary medicine, including the use of whole-food diets, acupuncture, herbs, and other complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modalities, please let me know.

Image via Instagram

Are you watching Pet Talk? Feel free to share your perspective in the comments section.


Patrick Mahaney, VMD

Patrick Mahaney, VMD

Patrick Mahaney takes a close look at celebrities, their pets, and other hot-button pet parenting topics from a veterinary perspective. His path to becoming a veterinarian was not the pursuit of a childhood dream, but was rather a serendipitous migration from his original plan, which was to pursue a career in marine biology or fine arts. To satisfy his creative urges, Dr. Mahaney writes a pet health column, guest blogs for Perez Hilton's, and created (CPN), which puts a veterinary spin on issues pertaining to celebrities, their pets, and public health.

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