Dr. Asia Fernandes

Supervisory Public Health Veterinarian, USDA FSIS | BS (Biology) 2016, Xavier University of Louisiana | DVM 2021, Purdue University | Multicultural Veterinary Medical Association Member

My Story

Before I even knew what the word meant I wanted to be a veterinarian. Something was instilled within me from a young age pushing me towards this profession. Navigating through life, I was always the “black sheep” of the family, operating and pursuing activities outside of the norm or even in the background. After entering veterinary school, I finally found why I was drawn to the profession. There are several avenues one can take within the veterinary world and my interest is in Public Health, the background, the lesser known avenue of veterinary medicine. This career path within veterinary medicine will allow me to work with various topics centered around both people and animals.

My Struggles

Veterinary school was the most academically challenging task I have faced thus far. The transition from undergraduate to graduate was a major shock and one I could not truly prepare for no matter how much advice I received beforehand. The volume of information being thrown at you at once is very overwhelming. At one point I felt as though I was drowning and could not come up for a breath of air. Trying to find the proper balance between school, mental, and physical health was one of the biggest struggles I faced throughout veterinary school. With the help of friends, professors, and mentors, I was able to make it through.

My Heroes

My role models growing up were my parents. Watching them lead a successful well balanced life pushed me to strive for excellence in everything I did. I wanted to make them proud and one day provide a life for a family of my own just as they had provided for my brother and me.

My Typical Day

As far as my job I work for the USDA FSIS (United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service) My official job title is a Supervisory Public Health Veterinarian. I ensure the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products are safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged. The agency regulates all raw and processed meat poultry, and egg products sold in interstate commerce, including imported products. Being part of a public health regulatory agency, I look at every aspect of the operation, from sanitation to processing, to reduce the levels of pathogens and potential outbreaks of foodborne illness. This is more of an official job description.

So far I’ve been training at different plants all ranging in size, species, and various parts of production. Some plants don’t work with raw meat at all and just package cooked meat in a different way, for example ready to eat snack packs with cold cuts, fruit, cheese etc. Other facilities do everything! I inspect the animals and make sure the staff are humanely handling the animals and following proper practices. If any part of the animal looks suspect during processing, I do a more thorough inspection to determine if I will pass or condemn the products. Then of course there’s the administrative side documenting and such.

My Stressors

As far as stressors, I would say the biggest one would be the adjustment to learning all of the policies and procedures. It can be very overwhelming at times knowing which directives and correspondence correlate to the different regulatory tasks. I take it one day at a time and try my best to digest and interpret the information in a way that I can remember and apply it.

My Why

I like the versatility I have as a veterinarian. I love the fact that I work with both people and animals to help provide a more safe and secure environment for all.

Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, 625 Harrison Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-7607

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