The line-up of speakers for this year’s emergency and critical care Congress is now complete.

One of the names we’re thrilled to bring you is Marc Raffe, adjunct professor of ECC at the University of Illinois and director of Veterinary Anesthesia and Critical Care Associates, which provides consulting services to the veterinary and biomedical communities.

A well-known name in ECC, Marc’s a champion of providing cutting-edge educational opportunities to the veterinary community. He’s written or co-written more than 100 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals, 35 chapters in textbooks, and co-authored a textbook on emergency and critical care.

In this interview, Marc, who lives in Minnesota with his wife Mayda, sheds some light on his long and distinguished career and gives us a sneak preview of his eagerly anticipated Congress presentations.

How did you get into veterinary medicine?

Veterinary medicine was in a portfolio of career options I considered during my primary and secondary education. I grew up in an exurban setting and was looking for opportunities that allowed for a rural lifestyle. I was intrigued by the diversity of career paths — clinical practice, military service and biomedical research — available in veterinary medicine.

Have you had any big breaks along the way?

I was privileged as a boy scout to tour, and later volunteer, at Dr Ted LaFeber, an internationally-respected pet avian practitioner in Niles, Illinois. Working with Dr LaFeber introduced me to the daily challenges associated with clinical veterinary medicine. Later, during my time as a laboratory technician, I performed hematologic and biochemical analyses of animal samples. I was intrigued by the similarities, and differences, that these samples presented compared to human samples which I routinely processed. This connection led to an opportunity to work with Dr Phil Zand, a local veterinarian who was very progressive for his time. I again had the chance to witness clinical practice and was piqued by its diversity. Lastly, I read a newspaper article on Dr Don Olson, a research veterinarian who helped develop the Jarvik artificial heart. I found it intriguing that a veterinarian had a central role in biomedical research. I was privileged, years later, to meet and spend time with Dr Olson discussing his career. This further underscored my interest in veterinary medicine.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The diversity and daily challenges associated with clinical practice. The opportunity to help animals and be of service to the community. Also, at this point in my career, the chance to educate and influence the next generation of veterinary practitioners, particularly in my areas of expertise.

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Marc Raffe is one the keynote speakers at Vets Now Congress
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Tell me more about your main clinical interests?

My main clinical interests are in anaesthesia and emergency and critical care medicine. I am board certified in both specialties.

Are you looking forward to attending our ECC Congress?

Absolutely. The opportunity to promote veterinary emergency and critical care medicine in any forum is exciting. As a charter member of the American college, I understand the need to provide cutting-edge educational opportunities to the veterinary community and continuously raise the bar for care standards. I’m especially impressed with the speed and scope of European development in this specialty and I’m committed to helping with that development.

We’ve chosen toxicology as the overarching theme. Do you think this will be a popular topic?

Toxicology is an important element of daily emergency and critical care practice, yet it has been very underserved as a topic. I think everyone who practices emergency and critical care encounters toxicology cases on a regular basis, yet there still seems to be a void in core information regarding initial steps, supportive care, definitive diagnosis and therapy. Because many toxicology presentations have an interventional urgency, the clinician must be prepared to institute immediate treatment and, therefore, have a universal plan of action established beforehand.

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Vets Now Congress features some of the most cutting-edge information and technology in ECC

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One of your talks is on ‘metabolism of toxins – cats are not small dogs’. Interesting headline — why did you choose this?

There is a presumption that the physiology and metabolism of cats is, for the most part, analogous to dogs. During my tenure in the veterinary pharmaceutical industry, I became increasingly aware of species distinctions in how drugs are biotransformed and eliminated. It is from this perspective that the talk focuses on why these differences exist and which drugs are most affected.

What will be the main takeaway from your talk on ‘antidotes in vet medicine’?

There are a portfolio of antidotes available for use in veterinary medicine that is clinically and cost-effective for use in toxicology patient management.

What do you hope vets and vet nurses will take away from your attendance at Congress?

New skills, knowledge and techniques they can use the next day in their individual practice.

If you could give one piece of advice to veterinary undergraduates, what would it be?

  1. Work hard, it will pay off in the end.
  2. Learn all you can while in school, you are paying for the privilege and should maximise it.
  3. Keep an open mind.
  4. You cannot predict where your career  will take you. Opportunities present themselves along the way which can change your thoughts and direction.