Dr. Sally Poston didn’t just fall into the veterinary field. She loves biology and animals, but most of all, she loves helping others. This is what pointed her in the direction of owning her own veterinary clinic in Cleveland, Animal Medical Center.
Dr. Sally Poston, DVM, didn’t just fall into the veterinary field. She loves biology and animals, but most of all, she loves helping others. This is what pointed her in the direction of owning her own veterinary clinic in Cleveland, Animal Medical Center.
When asked what attracted her to veterinary medicine, Poston pauses for a few moments, stirring her tea, and replies, “I love to play Sherlock. I love to think through and solve a problem from start to finish. So, when we get owners who will let us run blood tests, other tests, sometimes perform exploratory surgery (to work out the problem) — when we get it right — that makes it all worthwhile.”
She was born in New Orleans, but grew up in Oak Ridge. Her mother and father were both physicists. She studied at the University of Tennessee starting in 1980, became a member of the ROTC program in 1982, and earned a scholarship as a part of ROTC. She completed her undergraduate work with a degree in biology. Poston was in the Army from 1985-90 and was stationed in various locations such as Arizona, Washington, Korea (five times), Japan and Hawaii.
She spent her time in the service as a military intelligence officer and met her husband of 28 years, Bryant Poston, in Hawaii while he was an aviation officer who flew helicopters. Upon completing her military career, Poston eventually happened upon the career advice book ‘What Color is Your Parachute?’ by Richard N. Bolles. The book is a billed as a “practical guide for job-hunters and career changers,” but is remembered as a guide for soul-searching.
Poston said of ‘Parachutes,’ “It’s a process. You have to be honest with yourself (when completing the exercises), because no one is going to see it but you.”
She credits the experience of that book with helping to define her both personally and professionally on her path to veterinary medicine. She eventually completed her doctorate of veterinary medicine at the University of Tennessee in 1994. Poston purchased Animal Medical Center in March 2001.
She says the biggest problem her profession faces is a shortage of schools for veterinary students. There are approximately 30 schools or colleges of veterinary medicine in the U.S. that are accredited or have accreditation pending.
“Because there are so few vet schools, there is a shortage of doctors — specifically large animal vets,” she said. “There is a lot of stuff you can do with a veterinary degree. You don’t have to own your own practice. You can work for the government. You can do research. There are a ton of places for this profession.”
Poston doesn’t just reserve her work for the Cleveland community within Animal Medical Center itself. “When you have your own practice, these four walls can become all you know.” So, she joined the Bradley Sunrise Rotary Club in 1996, a mere three months after its inception.
“Not only is Sally a blessing to the veterinary community but to the Cleveland community as well,” said Kim Ingram Davis, co-owner of Duncan Ingram Inc. and office manager at Bradley-McMinn Pet Emergency Clinic. “She continues to be an inspiration to me. (She is) definitely one of my ‘heroes!’”
Initially, the Rotary club allowed Poston to network with other professionals, but she soon found that she had many friends who were fellow Rotarians. One such fellow Rotarian is “Dr. Bill.”
When asked whom she admires as a role model or mentor, Poston said, “Dr. Bill.” According to Poston, using the "Doctor" title in conjunction with the person’s first name in the veterinary world means that they have gained your respect. Dr. Bill is known to the Cleveland community as Dr. William F. Johnson, chief of staff at Tennova. “He is just a very genuine person,” said Poston.
Her friendship with Johnson through Bradley Sunrise Rotary and Broad Street Methodist Church led her to some of her proudest achievements: the mission work and water purification project in Honduras.
The joint venture between Bradley Sunrise Rotary and Broad Street Methodist has taken her to Honduras several times, each time installing water purification systems that help to remove worms and parasites from the available water supply and educating the local communities there about those dangers.
“Education has been shown to be the No. 1 obstacle for helping people overcome poverty, but a clean water supply has been shown to be the second most important part of helping those in need. If they are sick all the time, it’s hard to learn and help yourself,” said Poston. “I’m very proud of the work I’ve done with Rotary.”
In addition to the work that Poston does with the Rotary club, she gives some of her time to help the Polk County nonprofit Safe Haven Animal Rescue Program, or SHARP, which offers assistance to dogs and cats in need within Polk County.
When she isn’t booked up at Animal Medical Center, helping local nonprofits or away on important mission trips, she loves to travel. Some of the destinations that she’s visited include England, Honduras, Costa Rica, Montana, British Columbia, Africa, India, and the Caribbean Islands.
Poston and her husband, Bryant, have 2 dogs: Ammo and Buckshot; and four cats: Mayhem, Ladybug, J.C. and Charlie.
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