For most, being a veterinarian is hard enough. But not for this Latina, who has won numerous awards for her clinical and instructional work.
Teresa “Terri” DeFrancesco is an associate professor of cardiology and critical care at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. She also covers hospital services and sees patients at the university’s veterinary teaching hospital, The Terry Center.
“I’m a clinician at heart, even though I’m at an academic center,” says DeFrancesco. “I excel at providing the best patient care I can,” she adds.
DeFrancesco says her love for animals came from her mother’s side of the family. Her mother grew up on a farm in Peru.
“My general impression as a Peruvian is that Latinos have a lot of love and affection [for their pets]. They just seem like they are a part of the family,” she says. “My mother loved animals. My love of animals definitely comes from her side of the family,” she adds.
DeFrancesco’s eventual six-figure career began in Miami, Florida, working for a general practitioner veterinarian, Leslie Gerson, at his private practice called Gerson Animal Hospital. It was Gerson who helped her land a spot at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
“If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have been able to get to Cornell,” says DeFrancesco about Gerson. “Being at Cornell was one of the best experiences of my life. I was exposed to the top veterinarians in the country there,” she adds.
DeFrancesco has been granted numerous awards over her 20 years of experience at North Carolina State University. In 2008, she was awarded Veterinarian of the Year by the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association. And most recently in 2011, DeFrancesco was granted the White Coat of Excellence award by one of her patients, Sui Stoltzer. It was a gift to the college given by a client, in honor of the patient’s dog who had a tumor at the base of its heart.
“The truth is I feel like I have a good reputation, both from my clinical services and as a teacher,” says DeFrancesco. “My greatest achievement would be the respect that I have from my clients and colleagues. I try to do my best every day,” she adds.
At the hospital, she also oversees the administrative workflow as Section Chief of Specialty Services. And on top of it all, DeFrancesco contributes to clinical research at the university, seeking a better understanding of diagnosing treatment of heart failure in small animals.
Along with her numerous jobs, DeFrancesco goes home every day to her husband and two kids, ages six and nine. Following in their mother’s steps, her children hope to become a veterinarian and pediatrician, respectively.
“I feel like I have the perfect job,” she says.
So what’s the next step for a Latina who has everything?
“I am looking forward to finishing some projects that are ongoing in my clinical research, specifically on how to improve the diagnosis of heart failure in dogs and cats. It could revolutionize how we diagnose heart disease,” says DeFrancesco. “I don’t have any immediate goals to open my own private practice, I could probably stay at the university for the rest of my career,” she adds.