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Awards and Honors

A Lasting Gift to Vet Med’s Unsung Heroes

Thompsons Support Professional Development for Residents, Interns

couple posing with mountain range

Residents and interns – known as “house officers” at the NC State Veterinary Hospital – are newly-minted doctors of veterinary medicine who continue their training by gaining valuable hands-on experience before launching their careers in private practice. They work demanding schedules performing countless critical tasks, providing patient care for all types of animals.

While working under the direction of senior clinicians, house officers play a less visible but critical role in supporting the quality and continuity of medical services.

These hard-working veterinarians have been recognized and given a helping hand by a generous gift from Jeff and Paulina Thompson of Virginia Beach, Virginia. In 2020 the Thompsons established the Your Chance Medical Oncology Resident Endowment with a gift of $50,000, named after their beloved golden retriever, Chance. 

The Thompsons first encountered the work of NC State’s house officers in 2010 when their Chance was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma, a cancer of endothelial cells, the cells that line blood vessels. Unfortunately, golden retrievers are more prone to develop this disease than most breeds. 

The Thompsons volunteer with a Lab and golden retriever rescue organization called SEVA GREAT, and were extremely fond of Chance. The dog had been in training to be a guide dog for the blind, and was quite advanced. “She was phenomenal,” Jeff Thompson says. “She knew more words than the average four-year-old.”

Determined to provide the best possible care for Chance, the Thompsons made frequent trips to the NC State Veterinary Hospital in Raleigh for chemotherapy and other treatment, and were highly impressed with the quality of care. That includes the care shown to the Thompsons, themselves, by the hospital staff, which frequently meant the house officers assigned to Chance’s case.

“They helped so much to relieve the stress of the situation,” Thompson says. “It was amazing how much time they gave us.”

This initial experience has led to what the Thompsons call an 11-year love affair with NC State, where they ended up having several dogs treated, mostly for various forms of cancer. Paulina Thompson says, “They’ve always been very collaborative, and we appreciate that. The staff and the interns can relate to laymen, and they make you part of the decision-making process. This is a teaching hospital, and they teach you, as an owner, what’s going on. They don’t sugar coat it, and they make it understandable, including what’s right for the animal.”

The Thompsons’ golden retriever, Chance. Photo courtesy of the Thompsons.

Jeff Thompson adds, “We feel like we’re a part of NC State, now.” The couple looked for a way to show their gratitude, and they contacted Niki Theobald from the college’s development team. “Niki has been very helpful,” he says. Finding a way to support the work of the CVM can take many forms. “It doesn’t have to be huge,” Thompson adds.

The endowment fund the Thompsons created can be used for such purposes as paying costs associated with attending conferences and/or meetings, including travel fees, registration costs and examination and credential fees. While conditions during the pandemic have made it more difficult to take full advantage of the awards, several recipients have used the money to pay for critical board certification exams.

 “These hard-working people, who are often forgotten, are veterinarians who already have a lot of student debt, they’re making much less than they would as practicing veterinarians, and on top of that they have the considerable expenses with the exams necessary to become board certified oncologists”  says Paul Hess, associate professor of oncology and immunology at the CVM and a practicing oncologist at the NC State Veterinary Hospital who helps administer the house officer program. “The Thompsons’ endowment is a godsend for these residents.”