An ardent animal lover and advocate, Dr. Turnera Croom is blazing a trail by tapping her life’s work and 3D printing technology to teach others about the fascinating field of veterinary medicine and careers in animal science. As the Founder of the innovative startup Vets In 3D, Dr. Croom draws on her unique experience as a U.S. Army Veterinary Corps officer, USDA public health vet, and veterinary entrepreneur. She demystifies the profession of veterinary medicine and educates her audience on other non-veterinary, animal science careers, like radiology and genetics. Through original Vets In 3D programming that highlights the diversity of VetMed, Dr. Croom instills a newfound curiosity in young generations as they plan for college and consider potential career paths. For those students who prefer technology fields, Dr. Croom offers a ‘3D Printing Basics’ course to introduce them to the nuts and bolts of this groundbreaking manufacturing process. Get a better view of Dr. Croom’s work below.
F: How would you describe your swagher? What makes Dr. Croom, Dr. Croom?
DC: What makes Dr. Croom, Dr. Croom is my unwillingness to stay inside the box of what a veterinarian is thought to be. Having my Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) means I could just set up shop, open a small animal clinic, and see patients, end of story. But my swagher is what’s making me push past those boundaries and become a dynamic, multi-faceted veterinary entrepreneur. This creativity and entrepreneurial spirit I have means that I get to offer new and innovative services and products to the three groups that mean so much to our Vets In 3D brand—Fur babies and their fur parents, 3D Printing Makers, and my fellow military Veterans.
F: So tell us about your company, Vets in 3D.
DC: Vets In 3D was born out of a love for educating kids about Veterinary Medicine and 3D Printing. Some wonder how those two industries are connected, but when I explain that 3D printing has been used to create prosthetic limbs and parrot beaks and turtle shells for actual animals, they start to understand. In addition, 3D printing is used now to create actual bodily organs, not only for pets, but for humans as well. In a nutshell, Vets In 3D was created by Dr. Croom, the 3D Printing Veterinarian, to spread knowledge of Veterinary and Animal Science careers, and the coolness of 3D printing.
The 3D Printing is not all about education though. I really enjoy creating custom medallions, rings, and cell phone holders for various Black Greek organizations. I’ve designed beautiful sets of items for incoming lines for both sororities and fraternities. For those groups that want custom items that are unique, colorful, but still inexpensive, VetsIn3D.com is the place to put in your request.
I also created a mobile Veterinary Service, called Dr. Croom Mobile Veterinary Service, where I go right to people’s homes and examine their pet there. I want this service to provide convenience, professionalism, and less anxiety for both pet and owner. I plan to cater to my fellow Veterans, as well as the elderly population who may be disabled, or less mobile.
F: At what point did you realize Vets in 3D is a business and brand?
DC: I realized Vets In 3D was a business and a brand right away, because that was the original plan. I asked myself what things are important to me now, that I expect will still be important to my vision 20 years from now, and those things will always be educating others on Vet Med and training and hiring my fellow veterans. This is what prompted me to launch Vets In 3D on Veteran’s day in 2015. Our 2 year anniversary is coming up!
F: Did you have any type of model to follow and assist you with building your venture?
DC: Since I am unwilling to stay inside the veterinary box, I do not have any certain model that I am following. I am working towards BEING that model. I plan to disrupt parts of the veterinary industry with my Vets In 3D programs that involve not only training veterans to become animal handlers, but also to provide care for those veteran experiencing PTSD, and using service animals.
F: We noticed you’ve partnered with Project Exploration for an after school program and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority for their Ascend mentoring program. Those sound like great partnerships. Do you have any tips for partnering with organizations?
DC: My tip for partnering with organizations is to find out their needs and wants, and figure out a way to give it to them. Create a proposal stating why their organization will benefit, and explain your needs too. Another thing I always have readily available is a capability statement specific to the organization I am approaching. A capability statement is a one-page information sheet on your company, including EIN number, DUNS number, and any other certificates that show you are legitimate as a business. It will also explain exactly what offerings your company has, that they may want. I have a sample of mine if anyone would like the template.
F: Have you had a mentor or someone of significance to guide you throughout your career?
DC: Being that both of my parents are retired educators out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, James and Gertrude Croom have always been my mentors. The teaching piece is in my blood from them. Even more specifically, my father, as a natural sciences teacher, always brought home cool stuff—like baby chameleons, or little fluffy chicks. He was always there throughout the years when I had science projects, like my Michigan leaf project, or my Rats in a Maze experiment. He made sure I understood the significance of the different sciences, and didn’t let me only focus on the ‘fun’ stuff, like anatomy. He made me realize that the underlying sciences, like chemistry and Earth science are critical to any direct animal work. My pops is living a little vicariously through me right now, and I love it!
F: Can you describe how one of your Future Veterinarian Career Program typically goes?
DC: Vets In 3D has a new program called Future Veterinarian Career Program, with Dr. Croom, and it’s a veterinary career exploration program. Registered students will have one on one interaction with Dr. Croom as the group examines various aspects of Veterinary Medicine within different pet and feed stores. It allows kids younger than 16 to get hands on experience with animals and a veterinarian on hand. Since most veterinary hospitals and animal shelters require kids to be 16 to even volunteer, my Vets In 3D career program will open up a lot of opportunities for the younger ones to get experience under their belts.
F: Do you personally think there are traits or signs of teens/students who may be successful in the veterinary field? If so, can you share them?
DC: I believe there are certain traits of students who may be successful in the Veterinary field, similar to how a young Dr. Turnera was when I was growing up. We can often be introverted and a bit quiet, but usually friendly. We are quite empathetic and feel things very deeply, whether it’s an animals’ pain, or my fellow man. We never like to be the cause of pain. These qualities allow us as professionals to make tough life and death decisions. I believe these are wonderful traits for anyone to have, not just a veterinarian.
F: Do you have any upcoming projects or events that you care to share?
DC: One of my favorite current projects is my Veterinary coloring book and reference, for students interested in the different specialties of Vet-Med, and to show images of an African-American female veterinary doctor performing various tasks. The book is called “What Kind of Veterinarian Do I Want to Be?”
I am extremely excited about launching the ‘Future Veterinarian Career program’, as explained above. That will begin immediately following our 2nd Year Vets In 3D Anniversary on Veteran’s Day 2017!
I am also working on a project where I educate and offer certification for those wanting to register their animals as Emotional Support Animals, or ESAs. The education part comes in where I explain the differences between ESAs, therapy animals, and service animals. All have different rules, and emotional support animals can be any type of animal. Service animals are associated with military service, and therapy animals cover a wide group.
I am also in talks with a large veteran non-profit, to provide veterinary services to my fellow service dog-owning veterans. This is so important to me since my company is certified as a Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned business, or SDVOB.
Website and social media:
Twitter is VetsIn3D