Growing up on a farm in north central Wisconsin, I had a natural affinity to animals. My first passion was horses; my Dad used draft horses in the woods for making maple syrup. Later I became enamored with cows, and enrolled in 4-H and showed them at the county fair for many years. This innate preference for animals was no doubt a significant factor that contributed to my career choice of a veterinarian.
As a 12-year-old boy, I was amazed at the abilities and insights of our veterinarian as he attended to our animals. I was amazed at his ability to determine the pregnancy status of our cows by rectal examination. Given the challenges of artificial insemination, the rectal examination results were sort of a “report card” so to speak of our efforts. I always eagerly awaited the diagnosis, and when the cow was not pregnant appreciated advice and/or treatment to help achieve that goal. Additionally, I valued his ability to solve problems. From sorting out why a cow was sick and how to make her better, to delivering a “stuck” calf, the veterinarian left the farm in better shape than when he came. While this type of practice is considered “fire engine” practice, it was the norm back then. The preventive health programs that are common today were just being developed at that time. The notion of helping people with their animals appealed to me.
My curiosity in veterinary medicine lead me to seek job shadowing opportunities while I was in high school and college. Our veterinarian graciously allowed me to ride along several times. I learned quickly what a large animal veterinarian’s day was like and decided to pursue that career.
Aside from my affinity to animals, my job shadowing experience ranks as the next most important factor that focused my efforts to become a veterinarian. Recognizing the importance of job shadowing, I have returned the favor to many youths considering veterinary medicine as a career. The majority of those that rode with me while I practiced were high school or undergraduate college students. I always discussed the wide spectrum of opportunities that exists in veterinary medicine with them and enjoyed their conversation.
School organized Career Days are another venue to tell young people about the opportunities in veterinary medicine. My practice associates and I have participated in many of these programs at our local high schools over the years.
At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve had great fun going into kindergarten classes to share some of the things I did as a cow doctor. I always got loud gasps when I showed them a cow aspirin and a hoof nipper, the bovine version of a fingernail clipper. Young children are fascinated with animals, and frequently rank veterinary doctor as what they want to be when they grow up.
I encourage you to embrace the opportunities to nurture young people’s interest in veterinary medicine. We have to plant the seeds that will grow into the next generation of veterinarians.
How many professional organizations do you belong to? How many professional organizations COULD you belong to? Today's complex society offers endless opportunities to belong, to be a member, to volunteer time. How is time best spent? Where is greatest value realized?
Previously, I've argued our profession's practice level fragmentation; large capital investment duplicated in veterinary facilities in close proximity to one another; significantly limits veterinary practice profitability. Can the same argument be made for the profession's organizations? Does fragmentation hinder our ability to maximize membership value?
Nationally there is; American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Bovine Practitioners, American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Animal Hospital Association, American Feline Practitioners, you get my point, the list goes on and on and on. In Wisconsin, there is; Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association, Wisconsin Veterinary Technician Association, Wisconsin Equine Practitioners Association and Wisconsin Veterinary Practice Managers Association and nine local, district veterinary associations. With this dilutive effect, how can the veterinary medical profession provide significant and demonstrable impact to improve the profession in the State of Wisconsin?
We have an opportunity to be truly relevant! Let's discuss tactics and strategies to increase collaboration and leverage synergies. Let's consider opportunity to combine resources advocating for the veterinary medical profession's best interest. Consider the combined expertise, consider the combined resources. Consider the combined impact the veterinary medical profession could have on high educational costs, overwhelming student loan debt, poor practice profitability, compassion fatigue, the profession's wellness. The WVMA, WVTA, WEPA and WVPMA have far more in common than different.
Fragmentation in Wisconsin's veterinary medical profession's organizations hinders our ability to effectively overcome countless challenges facing the profession. Let's set aside our differences, identify common ground, leverage opportunity increasing the profession's relevancy, come together as one voice, as one united organization to advocate for the veterinary medical profession.
As the New Year dawns, let's have the courage to say yes to having the discussion, let's have the courage to be relevant!Last modified on