The Doctor is IN…and Very Busy!

Posted by Beth Funkhouser
Dr. Erin Griffin (E&H 2013) figured out how to parlay a double major in music and chemistry into a brand new animal clinic she just opened. And she already has a full house of four-legged clients.

Erin Griffin has gone to the dogs…and the cats, and even a ferret recently. As the new veterinarian in town she is prepared to see a whole host of favorite pets come through her door.

Her interest in music might seem like an unlikely pair with a more predictable major in chemistry, but Erin says those hours with the E&H music faculty gave her a sense of personal confidence that got her through a very competitive vet school interview process. “I give them credit for helping me come out of my shell. I really think my study of music got me into vet school.” Erin finished at Virginia Tech in 2018; there are fewer than 30 programs in the entire U.S.

Erin says when she first opened the clinic she worried that there might not be enough clients to make a private practice successful; but after only three months her appointment book stays full. There were other considerations to opening her own practice that gave her pause (paws?). Logistics of setting up a practice are complicated – from licensing to buying equipment to hiring a dependable staff. “Finding a building was a huge challenge because it had to be able to accommodate what we needed in terms of treatment rooms, surgery space, and a waiting area.” Once they found the right location, it made all the other hoops easier to manage.

It’s important to point out where Erin is practicing. She has returned to her hometown of Saltville, Virginia, and is thrilled to be part of the local economy there. “I saw my vet school classmates returning to their homes in Northern Virginia to work, and I thought, ‘Why not?’ I am proud of my roots in Appalachia, and I’m happy to be back among my neighbors offering this service.”

Erin is quick to point out how grateful she has been to have the support of her family during this venture. Her dad (Greg Griffin, E&H ’87) brings a wealth of business experience to the project, and her mom (Leola Neal Griffin, E&H ’87) is helping to manage the office. Erin is keenly aware that every new vet doesn’t have that sort of support system. “The numbers of very young veterinarians who commit suicide is troubling: there is lot of stress in this field that many don’t consider. From finances to even the frequency of euthanasias, it is a lot to manage. I’m grateful to have a strong support system.”

It hasn’t taken her long to settle into a routine, and she already has an office cat who greets clients. Ash was a feral cat Erin neutered and released, but when he got sick he came back to his new human friends for more TLC. “He realized he liked being around people, and now he’s an important part of the office staff!”

You can follow Dr. Griffin’s work on the Saltville Animal Clinic Facebook page. You might also enjoy reading about one of Erin’s kitten rescue stories that involved a whole lot of E&H friends.

  • Dr. Erin Griffin, E&H Class of 2013, with Ash – the office cat who decided he no longer wanted to be feral.

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