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In August, I addressed the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine’s Class of 2021 during orientation. Thirty years previous, nearly to the day, I was in that seat for orientation of the Class of 1991. This opportunity gave me pause; reflecting my point of reference regarding veterinary medicine, a message to share once more.

The profession is challenged on numerous fronts, moving us ever closer to disruptive change; high cost of education, large student debt, small starting salaries, legislative challenges to veterinary practice acts, telemedicine, veterinary practice aggregation; to name a few. Our profession needs the vision and the passion to develop opportunity from these challenges.

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“Work-life balance” is a common catch phrase embedded in our social fabric, oft times associated with one’s state of well-being. A work-life balance Google search yields a notion of a proper priority of “work” – career and ambition, and “life style” – health, family and leisure. A few guiding principles pave the path I follow – “opportunity abounds in animal health”, “the vision to recognize opportunity” and “courage to say yes to opportunity”. These principles allow me opportunities and experiences beyond my wildest dreams, many of them life changing. My quandary is reconciling this seeming dichotomy – work-life balance versus doing it all. I speculate this dichotomy is a significant component of the rampant emotional distress our profession experiences.

What’s my beef with work-life balance? The implication that work and life are separate and achieving balance is both desirable and possible. I can’t, for the life of me, reconcile these implications. Is work-life balance attainable? I suspect not. Is integrating your passion for veterinary medicine, your life’s work, into your life possible? Maybe, just maybe, it is!

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i recently attended the Heartland Veterinary Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Clarke Price, former President of the Ohio Society of CPA's thoughtfully presented perspectives of volunteer leadership in organizations such as the Wisconsin VMA. His most impactful thought? "Cultivate leaders to follow you", what a concept!


We have a wealth of knowledge, experience, expertise and professional connections and networks within the WVMA membership. How can this incredible resource be leveraged to benefit the WVMA, to benefit Wisconsin's veterinarians? Mr. Price contends, the current WVMA leadership should cultivate our successors with inquiry and encouragement.

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Twenty-six years have passed since I lived the rookie season trials and tribulations as a practicing veterinarian, in many respects it seems as though it's yesterday, in other respects it seems as though a lifetime has passed.

As approximately 4,000 2017 veterinary medical school graduates enter rookie seasons, essential lessons will be learned. You're smart, you're hard-working, you're motivated, you're accomplished. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You've just completed one of the most rigorous professional curriculums, you've earned your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Congratulations!
It's time to be proud, walk tall, look people squarely in the eye, shake their hand firmly and confidently and most importantly – smile!

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Over the past few weeks the veterinary role in animal welfare has been front and center for me. I recently presided over the day long WVMA sponsored, Animal Welfare Seminar, attended by nearly 125 veterinarians, law enforcement and district attorneys. What's your role in Animal Welfare?

My role in animal welfare was framed in large part as a farm kid growing up in west-central Wisconsin. My view of animal welfare was based in animal husbandry from the agrarian point of reference. Early in my career, as a recent veterinary school graduate practicing in Rock County, I was exposed to numerous instances of animal neglect or abuse. For reasons I don't fully understand, I tended to look the other way; maybe even finding excuses for caretakers responsible for neglected animals.

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Presidents Message

The Work is Good!

In August, I addressed the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine’s Class of 2021 during orientation. Thirty years previous, nearly to the day, I was in that seat for orientation of the Class of 1991. This opportunity gave me pause; reflecting my point of reference regarding veterinary medicine, a message to share once more.

The profession is challenged on numerous fronts, moving us ever closer to disruptive change; high cost of education, large student debt, small starting salaries, legislative challenges to veterinary practice acts, telemedicine, veterinary practice aggregation; to name a few. Our profession needs the vision and the passion to develop opportunity from these challenges.

Private practices must generate profit adequate to compensate recent graduates for escalating educational costs and student debt. Good medicine is good business and good business supports good medicine. Practice owners are responsible for managing practices with high degrees of business acumen.

Strategies to increase veterinary practice relevancy must be implemented, after all we’re the animal experts; we need to own this space! Fragmentation within practices and within the profession, hinders our ability to effectively overcome the profession’s challenges. Set aside differences, identify common ground and leverage the opportunities.

Our profession experiences far higher than average levels of psychological distress, depression, suicidal ideation and substance abuse. We have the knowledge, we have the resources, we have to take action assisting veterinary profession members suffering from emotional distress and substance abuse.

Increase our legislative engagement; the Wisconsin legislature’s actions directly affects many WVMA members’ professional and business activities. Participate on the WVMA Legislative Committee, financially support both the WVMA and the AVMA PAC’s.

Access to veterinary medical care is receiving growing focus nationwide; 23,000,000 pets are estimated to have no access to veterinary medical healthcare. Let’s seize this opportunity. Get creative and devise business models to turn this need into profitable demand for veterinary services.

Take control of animal welfare; once again, we need to own this, we’re the animal experts. Our role is to be informed and educated regarding the process to successfully assist law enforcement and humane organizations in relieving animal abuse and neglect. Our role is to be vigilant, our role is to not make excuses, our role is to not look the other way. Err on the side of the animal and have the courage to take action on behalf of the helpless.  

To our recent graduates and those commencing their veterinary education and careers – You’re smart, you’re hardworking, you’re motivated, you’re accomplished. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The profession needs you to be proud, walk tall, look people squarely in the eye, shake their hand firmly and confidently and most importantly; smile! Urgently pursue your dreams and your vision. Hone your medical and surgical skill, strive to be kind, caring, highly skilled clinicians, develop your mentoring and business management repertoires.

To everyone in the profession – Ladies and Gentlemen, the profession needs you. There is a lot of work to be done and the work is good. Please know, you can make a difference!

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Past Presidents Messages

The Work is Good!
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Work-life Balance?
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Make an Impact!
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Essential Opportunity, Essential Lessons
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Animal Welfare; What’s Your Role?
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The Need is Great!
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Politics, Politics, Politics!
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Professional Wellness: Break the Dam!
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One Bite at a Time!
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Be Relevant!
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Conference Board LEI
2016 AVMA Economic Summit
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Is Your World Flat?
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