Emergency and critical care (ECC) veterinary specialists are a special group who thrive in chaos and challenge. They are masters of their craft who always keep a cool head in a crisis. Our VESPECON consulting criticalist, Dr. Melissa Holahan, has years of experience under her belt and enjoys sharing her expertise to help general practitioners learn and grow. Her passion for helping others is evident in everything she does, including caring for ruminants in her underserved Michigan community. Here is a deep dive into Dr. Holahan’s life and career.

Veterinary emergency and critical care: A day in the life

Small animal veterinary criticalists often work in large referral practices, anchoring the emergency and intensive care departments. They manage outpatient cases, oversee critical inpatients, and consult with other hospital departments. For example, for veterinary hospitals without an anesthesiologist, criticalists can use their extensive high-risk anesthesia and surgery knowledge to support other staff veterinarians. 

Dr. Melissa Holahan: Q & A

Here are Dr. Holahan’s answers to a few questions to help you get to know her better. 

Question: Where did you complete your veterinary education?
Answer: I completed my DVM from Michigan State University (MSU) in 2006, a rotating small animal internship from University of Pennsylvania in 2007, and my ACVECC residency at MSU in 2010.

Q: Where are you from, and where do you currently live?
A: I am from Gibraltar, MI, and currently live in Northville, MI.

Q: Why did you choose to pursue a veterinary specialty?
A: I enjoy providing advanced diagnostics and intensive care treatment options for our clients and referral community.

Q: What do you enjoy most about emergency and critical care?
A: I enjoy getting to critically evaluate my patients every day and looking at clues that help me take a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to ICU case management.

Q: What has been your most fulfilling or interesting case as a veterinary specialist?
A: I would say the most fulfilling part of my job is working with a team approach to each case and being the best patient advocate that I can be for our patients with multiple concurrent disease processes. Many days, our patients need the expertise of multiple specialists to ensure the best outcome, including our radiologist, surgical team, internal medicine team, and cardiologist, to name a few.

Q: How did you come to work with VESPECON?
A: I believe there is a great deal that general practitioners can do with support and education to help their clients prior to and during referral to help save them time and money.

Q: How does working with emergency and critical care through VESPECON benefit or help general practitioners?
A: Being trained in emergency and critical care, I can calmly and quickly help general practitioners work through even the most critical cases. While we are all stretched to the limit with time these days, it is often hard to stay up on the most cutting-edge technology. As veterinary medicine is always evolving, it is sometimes difficult to know all of the procedures available.

Q: Tell us about your two- and four-legged family members.
A: Our current family consists of horses, dairy goats, and chickens.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I run a mobile veterinary business (Caprine & Ewe Veterinary Consulting, PC) that services small ruminants, camelids, and honeybees in southeast Michigan.

Q: Do you have any interesting hobbies or special talents?
A: One of my hobbies is running a micro-dairy with my partner that consists of ADGA Nigerian dwarf goats. We pride ourselves in breeding quality performance and production goats.

Q: What is the most interesting place you have traveled? Any specific destinations on your bucket list?
A: Ireland is the most interesting place I have traveled, and I would love to visit Iceland someday.

Q: Anything else you would like people to know about you or VESPECON?
A: As a USDA-accredited veterinarian who is also a beekeeper, I have had some unique opportunities, including inspecting multiple honey bee colonies and performing inspections for bumblebee operations since 2016.

You can consult with Dr. Holahan or any of our other talented specialists using our virtual VESPECON platform, available at your fingertips anytime. Learn more about recently added and updated services or how our platform works by visiting our website, or sign up here to elevate your in-house emergency care.