Dr. Kenitra HendrixDirector of the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and Clinical Associate Professor of Diagnostic Microbiology in the Department of Comparative Pathobiology, Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine | BS (Microbiology) 2000, Auburn University | DVM 2004, Auburn University | PhD 2013, Washington State University | Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists
VetaHumanz Live! Podcast
Dr. Hendrix was featured in Episode 6 of the VetaHumanz Live! Podcast. Listen now.
I was raised by accountants, and as a young child I decided that I didn’t want to wear pantyhose and high heels to work when I grew up. I selected veterinary medicine as a non-high-heels option for an eighth-grade career project. This led me to volunteering at the vet hospital where we took our family dog. That experience pretty much sealed the deal that veterinary medicine was in my future.
I was scared of animals from a young age. I remember my grandmother having to keep her boxer outside when we were visiting because of my fear. One day I decided that my fears were clearly unfounded because my cousins seemed to get along just fine with the dog. One day I told grandma to let him in while I sat bravely on the couch, and Bosshog and I were great friends from that day forward.
In third grade I was diagnosed with allergies and “no pets” was doctor’s orders. When I was in sixth grade, and after years of allergy shots, we got our family dog, Sunny, whose ear infections I still talk about when I teach the senior veterinary students. When I graduated from vet school I sent an announcement to my pediatrician with a handwritten note, “thanks for the allergy shots!” Between my fears and allergies, I could have been labeled “least likely to become a veterinarian” as a kid.
My family communicated to me from a young age that an education was of great value. My grandfather who had to pick cotton before his parents would let him go to school used to say, “An education is the one thing that people can’t take away from you.” My grandma from the other side was told her family could only send one kid to college, so they chose her younger brother because he was male. She rose through the ranks, seeking learning opportunities along the way, to become VP of a bank. My stepdad, still to this day, doesn’t enjoy potatoes because that’s all he could afford to eat while putting himself through college (and later joined the Air Force for the GI Bill to help pay for college). There was no question that I would appreciate my education, do well in school, and one day go to college.
My Typical Day
Honestly, I start with a plan, but it almost always changes due to urgent matters brought to my attention at work. Some days start with me teaching clinical microbiology to DVM students. I may have a meeting with my team to help address issues or discuss improvements to our systems. I review lab reports with antimicrobial susceptibility results and release them to clients to help them select the best antibiotic for their patient.
Keeping up with all the new urgent matters that weren’t on my list at the start of the day! While I haven’t figured out a perfect system, I benefit from keeping a little notebook that I carry with me. This book holds the to-do list from the start of the day plus modifications/additions as the day goes on. I enjoy checking off the boxes! Also, I try to take breaks to do a quick walk on campus when the weather is nice.
I like the variety. Being a veterinarian can mean so many things. I try to remind the senior DVM students that they don’t have to make a final selection of their path, and they can modify their path as they gain experience and encounter new opportunities. That’s what I did. I worked 3.5 years as a small animal veterinarian in private practice, then went back to school to get my PhD and complete a residency, and now have been on the faculty at Purdue for almost 9 years.