Brett Harling, DVM, Residency-Trained in Internal Medicine

Internal Medicine

DVM

St. George’s University College of Veterinary Medicine

Internship

The Schwarzman Animal Medical Center, New York

Internal Medicine Internship

Animal Specialty Group, Glendale, CA

Residency

The Scharzman Animal Medical Center, New York

Dr. Brett Harling’s passion for compassionate animal care was evident from a young age. A self-portrait he painted at age six, depicting himself as a veterinarian, still hangs in his family’s home in Florida. His family’s support was unwavering, maintaining a menagerie of animals at home. His father often jokes that he too would have become a veterinarian if he had been able to spell the word in college.

What sparked your passion for Internal Medicine?

Growing up, I discovered my talent for problem-solving, which naturally led me to focus on complex internal medicine cases. Additionally, my hand-eye coordination, sharpened by playing computer and video games, proved invaluable for performing intricate endoscopic and minimally invasive procedures.

What are some of the biggest challenges in your area of expertise?

The most challenging and simultaneously rewarding aspect of my job is observing the progression of cases over the years and building relationships with both patients and their families. The biggest challenge often lies not in achieving a diagnosis but in conveying difficult diagnostic findings and prognoses. This is especially tough when a long-standing relationship with the patient and family has been established. Communicating the balance between what can be done and what should be done in terms of treatment options is difficult, particularly for cases with poor outcomes. However, the gratitude from families after thoroughly explaining these options makes it all worthwhile.

Is there a particular case that has inspired you?

Shortly after finishing my residency, I had the opportunity to work with a remarkable team on interventional radiology (IR) cases. One memorable case involved Ralphie, a handsome 20-pound, three-year-old orange tabby, who was brought to the ER with severe acute kidney injury. His creatinine levels were alarmingly high at 28 (normal is less than 1.6). Despite inconclusive imaging, we proceeded with bilateral subcutaneous ureteral bypass (SUB) placement based on a strong suspicion of near-complete bilateral ureteral obstructions. This quick action was crucial; without it, Ralphie would not have survived the night. Remarkably, within five days, his kidney values normalized, and he was discharged in good spirits.

Ralphie’s case stands out for many reasons. It required everything to go perfectly, from the swift consultation with the ER doctor to the seamless execution of the procedure and post-operative care. The collaboration and mutual respect among the ER team, the dedication of the ICU staff, and the unwavering confidence of Ralphie’s family were instrumental in his recovery.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Outside of work, I enjoy playing tennis, learning golf, and exercising with my wife. I also love hiking and exploring new areas with friends. Family time is highly valued, whether traveling or at home. This includes spending time with my wife Emily, a critical care veterinarian, our inquisitive 18-month-old son Phillip, our 19-year-old spicy Torti cat Petry, our 13-year-old one-eyed Frenchie Kobe (whom we adopted after he was my patient during residency), and our two-year-old orange tabby cat Tommy, rescued from the streets of Philadelphia.

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Starting Monday, April 8th through the end of September, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will begin their road resurfacing project along Waukegan Road from Lake Cook Road to Half Day Road (IL 22). Please allow additional travel time to our hospital during the construction. Learn More: Waukegan Road Resurfacing Project