LAURIE MEYTHALER-MULLINS (BS ’01 animal ecology, DVM ’08 veterinary medicine) is an associate veterinarian at the South Des Moines Veterinary Center, a small animal practice near Blank Park Zoo. In many ways, she represents today’s “Gentle Doctor,” the unofficial symbol of Iowa State’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Since Christian Petersen created the iconic Gentle Doctor sculpture with its caring veterinarian depicted with a puppy, the demographics of the veterinary profession and the student make-up of the College of Veterinary Medicine, have changed. From what was an almost exclusive male-dominated profession, now more than 80 percent of the students in Iowa State veterinary classes are female.
Although her veterinary medicine degree is from Iowa State, it was her earlier experience as a collegiate athlete that taught her how to succeed.
“I was painfully shy growing up and had lots of anxiety, but succeeding on the track gave me confidence,” Meythaler-Mullins said. “I attended Iowa State on a track and cross-country scholarship. Balancing competitive running and the classroom taught me time management, which was essential for veterinary school.”
Meythaler-Mullins received her bachelor’s degree in 2001 and went on to receive a Master’s in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences from the University of Florida. She came back to ISU and received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 2008.
“I joke that I didn’t go far but staying in Des Moines was intentional,” said the Des Moines native, who graduated from Roosevelt High School. “We did live in Florida for three years, but missed Iowa.”
Meythaler-Mullins is president of the Greater Des Moines Veterinary Medical Association, and past-president of the ISU Veterinary Medical Alumni Association. She has served on the Executive Board of the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association, and now works on their Wellness Committee (a topic close to her heart). In 2010, she became a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society.
She and her husband Dan Mullins have three children, Maggie (7), Kenny (5), and Joey (2). They live with a dog, two cats, and a pet rabbit. “My husband and my kids keep me grounded,” she said. “I practice finding serenity to make me a better person for them.”
She also loves to travel, having visited Europe, China, Tunisia, Jerusalem and across the United States.
“I enjoy the outdoors, the more remote, the better. I’ve awoken to strange noises in the Boundary Waters, slept on the side of a Colorado mountain, and came across fresh bear tracks hiking Yellowstone. My personal philosophy: Be present.”
Former Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Lisa K. Nolan (2016): For this project, the College of Veterinary Medicine wanted to reflect how the veterinary profession has changed and what better way to do that than to feature a female as today’s ‘Gentle Doctor.’ Laurie is a wonderful example of what our students can and have accomplished after graduating from Iowa State.