Avin Arjoonsingh, DVM, MS, DACVIM (SAIM)
Dr. Arjoonsingh is from Trinidad and Tobago and became Board-certified in July 2023. He is currently a clinical assistant professor at the University of Florida, with interests in endocrinology, hematology and clinical teaching.
Dr. Arjoonsingh graduated from the University of the West Indies, School of Veterinary Medicine with his DVM, where he also worked as a clinical teaching assistant and tutor for 5 years. His path to specialization included a rotating internship at
Tuskegee University and a combined master’s and residency in small animal internal medicine at Washington State University. In his free time, Dr. Arjoonsingh enjoys all things football (soccer), international travel and volunteering for international
work, charities and teaching.
What inspired you to become a Board-certified veterinary specialist?
At my veterinary school in Trinidad and Tobago, there were visiting professors commonly from the USA and UK who taught in the internal medicine course, and I was blown away by their knowledge, teaching skills and problem-solving abilities. When I graduated, I visited a teaching hospital in the USA to understand the route to specialization, how the faculty, residents, interns and students went about their day in practice and how they managed referral cases that were complex. After that experience, seeing the way services collaborated and being exposed to some great people at that institution, I was confident that internal medicine was the path for me, and I became determined to make that happen!
Are there any resources or pieces of advice that helped you along the way?
“Not every battle is worth fighting or has to be won. Fight for the things that are most important to you.” – Rance Sellon (one
of my mentors, I hope he is ok that I quoted him here!).
My path to being a specialist is not traditional. I believe that being open minded about every situation is one of the best ways to approach veterinary medicine and society in general. Also, everyone has their own path in life and to success, so do not
compare yourself to others and enjoy the journey along the way to achieving your dreams and goals!
Is there a story or experience that stands out in your mind that reaffirmed your decision to work in specialty veterinary medicine?
Can I say that I am living the dream? There are experiences every day that reaffirms my decision to be part of specialty medicine! Being a specialist has allowed me to work in academia, where teaching residents, interns and students provides me
with the greatest reward. By extension, our wonderful patients and their owners benefit from our excellent tertiary level care, and we are surrounded by other specialists which enhances our ability to provide this type of medical care.
Photo: Dr. Arjoonsingh sedating, collaring and treating an elephant in South Africa to decrease human wildlife conflict and to help with conservation.
How is specialty veterinary medicine paving the way for advances in veterinary science?
I am fortunate enough to work at a veterinary teaching hospital that is involved in some awesome research, both clinical and benchtop. There is a lot of collaborative research among specialties, which drive the research forward providing new information
to the field of veterinary science. Veterinary specialists provide advanced diagnostics and treatments to pets now, that are akin to human medicine, further evolving the way veterinary medicine is seen and practiced.
What do you consider one of your career successes? How did you achieve it?
My greatest career success is becoming a Board-Certified specialist in small animal internal medicine. I faced many challenges in achieving this accreditation, having to move to a different country, culture, the pandemic and more. I would say that
my residency program and mentors were the most influential in me becoming Board-certified and providing me with everything I needed to be a successful internist.
What do you consider a challenge you’ve faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
I think that coming from another country and getting into an internship and a residency was the biggest hurdle. There are not many of programs
that enroll people from outside of the US. My determination to become a specialist and persistence played a big role in overcoming these challenges.
"The trust from the students and public, due to our unique position as being leaders, puts added responsibility on specialists to keep driving this profession forward: with novel research, improved patient care, teaching and scholarship."
When it comes to increasing diversity in veterinary specialty medicine, what kind of resources or changes would you like to see from the ACVIM and/or similar organizations?
This is a question I have encountered a lot since moving to the USA. I come from a country that is incredibly diverse, so forgive me as I still have to wrap my ahead around this concept properly. I would say though, the challenges for me as a non-US citizen are opportunities for research, funding, fellowships and even jobs are limited due to work VISA issues. The challenge for international applicants to get placements in internships and residencies is another issue faced by non-US citizens. So, I guess international diversity is lacking due to these limitations. Therefore, providing pathways for international applicants to becoming Board-certified specialists can be a way to allow top talent to achieve their goals.
Since becoming a Diplomate last year, how has your perspective as a veterinarian changed?
Now that I am a Diplomate, the responsibility to pass on knowledge, as well as contribute new knowledge to the field of veterinary medicine
is something that I have wholeheartedly accepted. The trust from the students and public, due to our unique position as being leaders, puts added responsibility on specialists to keep driving this profession forward: with novel research, improved
patient care, teaching and scholarship.
What advice do you have for those aspiring to become Diplomates?
I might have said it before, but keep on your own path to success, everyone is not the same. Make connections
and choose people that are on your side, who will encourage you to be the best version of yourself, as a person and specialist (I was lucky to have those in my mentors and my residency). Remember to enjoy the journey and make meaningful connections
with people around you, as those will influence the type of Diplomate you will become! Lastly, even though you are a specialist in your given field, feel free to branch out and try different things as this profession is incredibly diverse (I have
done some incredible charity and wildlife conservation work also).
Finally, what is something unique about your career, or career path?
My career path has not been typical, since my
DVM degree is not from the US. I worked in the teaching hospital in my country for 5 years before pursing specialization. In my experience, this taught me a lot about life, how to be a veterinarian and handle difficult situations. I was incredibly
lucky to have the most supportive mentors and an amazing residency experience, which has inspired me to give the same energy back to future trainees. I believe that I am the first Diplomate ACVIM (SAIM) from my tiny country. I am proud of my journey,
and I hope the rest of it is just as amazing!