Focus on Faculty: Dr. Mark Freeman

Dr. Mark Freeman
Dr. Mark Freeman with his dog, Pickle

Dr. Mark Freeman is an assistant professor of community practice in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. He joined in the college in 2012 after serving in small animal surgery and medicine faculty positions at Ross University and Tuskegee University. Freeman completed a bachelor’s degree in biology from Morehead State University and a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from Auburn University. He is board certified in canine and feline specialty by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners.

I grew up in a very small town, Harrodsburg, Kentucky, which is about 25 miles southwest of Lexington.

What are your current responsibilities at the college? If you teach, what do you teach?
The majority of my assignment at the college is as a clinical instructor in the Community Practice. I currently spend 34-36 weeks of each year seeing patients and guiding students as they navigate their way through the Community Practice service of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. The Community Practice service offers the students a unique opportunity within the teaching hospital in that they are acting as the primary doctor for each patient. Our hope is that this closely mirrors what they will be doing in actual practice after graduation.

I teach several classroom lectures and cover a variety of topics including small animal respiratory medicine, acupuncture and complementary medicine, small animal respiratory diagnostic techniques, and this spring I covered several small animal dermatology lectures. I also participate in a number of hands-on laboratory sessions including small animal dentistry, small animal diagnostic techniques, pre-surgical skills, and communication skills.

When did you come to the college, and what brought you here?
I came to Virginia Tech in the spring of 2012. I have been involved in clinical teaching for the past 11 years, and I was very impressed with how well developed the Community Practice service is here at the college. When a position opened for a clinical instructor in that service, I knew right away that I wanted to be considered as a candidate. Happily, I was offered the position, and have truly enjoyed the opportunity to be part of such a great program.

Dr. Mark Freeman performs acupuncture on Journey, a 5-year-old dachshund owned by Anne Swain of Christiansburg, Virginia.

What interests you about your field?
I routinely tell people that the thing that attracts me to Community Practice most is that I never get bored. We see so many patients on a daily basis, and each one is different from the last. From the new kitten that needs vaccinations and a check-up, to the senior dog in need of a dental cleaning, to the 4-year-old mixed breed with a skin tumor, there is endless variety, and I’m constantly challenged to exercise my knowledge and skills in the most effective way possible.

Hobbies or interests outside of the college?
I have so many interests in so many things, that I don’t have any one true hobby. I love to read, work in the garden, sing, go water skiing, travel, cook, do home improvement projects, the list goes on. I’ve recently begun learning to work on cars!

Do you have any pets (names, breeds)?
I currently have 10 dogs and 3 cats. My cats are all domestic shorthaired: two females, Penny and K, and one male, Paco le Taco (it’s a long story). My dogs are a mixture of breeds, but the list goes like this: Gabby the Chihuahua, Stick the Chihuahua, Spaz the Chihuahua, Pickle the Chihuahua, Duster the rat terrier, Zuri the rat terrier cross, Olivia the Yorkshire terrier, Speedbump (aka Bumpy, another long story) the Chihuahua Dachshund terrier mix, and Maximus and Minimus (Max and Minnie), the brother and sister who are also Chihuahua Dachshund terrier mixes.

Share one thing students may not know about you.
Most people are bit surprised to know that I am a true introvert. I masquerade as an extrovert because I love the gratification that I get from seeing a student gain the confidence that comes with the realization that they can be successful practitioners.

Anything else you wish to share?
I have been so impressed with the attitude and atmosphere at Virginia Tech and the veterinary college. Everyone has been incredibly supportive and seems genuinely interested in making this a place where people want to come to work every day. The sense of community constantly reminds me that we all have a common goal of providing the best education possible for our students. And based on what I see during the clinical year, we’re succeeding!

Ollie, a 3-year-old Bichon mix, receives an acupuncture treatment from Dr. Mark Freeman (right) with assistance from veterinary technician Flori Sforza.