February 22, 2023
Lead Veterinarian Dr. Del Anderson, stopped by to chat with us on his perspective of black history month and the vet industry for people of color. He has been with SVP since 2018 and is currently serving pets at Inman Park Animal Hospital in Atlanta.
How did you get to where you are now?
I completed my undergraduate education at Auburn University. I participated in numerous extracurricular activities, such as performing ecology and veterinary research, joining a Black fraternity (Alpha Phi Alpha), tutoring & mentoring minority students, and serving as an ambassador for the College of Sciences & Mathematics. I went on to pursue my veterinary education at Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine. While there, I continued to make connections with my peers and veterinary professionals through the Veterinary Business Management Association and Alpha Psi Fraternity, where I served as Treasurer for both organizations. Upon graduating from Auburn, I moved to Florida and practiced small animal preventative medicine for two years. Following the rise of the pandemic and the surge in the Black Lives Matter movement, I felt called to relocate to my hometown of Atlanta, GA, where I could continue to pursue my passion for veterinary medicine. I worked in an ER setting for a year and a half, which allowed me to strengthen my decision-making skills and medical competency. I joined Inman Park Animal Hospital in February 2022 and took on the role of Lead Veterinarian in August of that year. Being at Inman has allowed me to utilize all of the management, medical and interpersonal skills I have acquired throughout the years in a neighborhood with a diverse demographic of pet owners and professionals.
How has SVP been instrumental in your development?
SVP’s Foundations: Lead Doctor Program gave me the knowledge and skills to succeed in my role as lead veterinarian. It has taught me how to communicate with staff and doctors within my clinic and mentor both new and aspiring veterinarians, so that I can set my team up for success. By teaching others and understanding my teammates, it has allowed me to grow both professionally and personally. I’m excited to see how I and my staff will continue to develop throughout the years!
What motivates you?
Simply put, Life. I am a firm believer that the energy you put out into the world reflects back on you. The human-animal bond is so unique, and our animal companions bring us such immense joy. As a veterinarian, I feel blessed and responsible to ensure that joy continues as long as possible. Mentoring has shown me how rewarding it can be when you pour energy into others; watching my team grow and learn serves as a reflection of my own development into a strong leader and better human being.
Who has served as an inspiration in your life?
My dog, Jake. He was my best friend and loyal companion for 8 years. I think it’s no coincidence that I bid him farewell on Valentine’s Day of 2023. He taught me how to love others, love myself, and to live life to the absolute fullest.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month is a reminder to all Americans that their country would not be as wealthy and sustainable today if it were not for the innovation, hard work, intellect, and courage of Black Americans that came before us. There are so many to give credit to! For me, it’s recognizing and honoring the innumerable amount of Black leaders that dedicated their lives to change. Black History Month re-affirms the fact that I, a proud Black man, have no excuse to not impact my community, this nation, and ultimately the world.
What is your advice to other individuals who are looking to join the veterinary industry?
My advice to others looking to join the veterinary industry is to know your WHY. Being a veterinary professional comes with a great sense of pride and responsibility, but with that requires a high level of resiliency. It’s not an easy job. Period. Whether your aim is to be a veterinary nurse, client relations specialist, kennel technician or doctor, this field will test you in countless ways. But if you hold fast to your WHY, then you are bound to reap the rewards you desire.
What changes have you seen within the veterinary industry regarding access to job opportunities for people of color?
I love the rise in collectivism among people of color within the veterinary industry. Thanks to social media and organizations like the Black DVM Network and Latinx Veterinary Medical Association, it is now easier than ever for people of color who aspire to be veterinarians to find representation in vet med and connect with mentors and role models.
What impact are you hoping to leave in this industry?
I hope to leave a legacy that promotes unity, diversity and inclusion within the veterinary industry. If there is one thing we can learn from our patients, it is how to live selflessly and respect each other unconditionally. My aspiration is that the veterinary profession one day reflects the diverse backgrounds that make up the very country Black Americans contributed and sacrificed so much for.