Four WVMA members were recognized for their 50 years of continued membership at the 99th Annual WVMA Annual Convention on October 10.
Robert W. Elkins, DVM Dr. Robert Elkins graduated from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1956. He came to New Glarus to start a one man practice which was common in the 1950's and 60's. After several years, Dr. Elkins turned his one man practice into a
Dr. Elkins fondest memories over his 40 year career were relationships with farm families he served. Another fond memory is of UW veterinary students that were assigned to his practice each year. "These students added fresh thought and interesting conversation to each day," recalled Dr. Elkins.dynamic duo which eventually expanded to four veterinarians. In 1996, 40 years after Dr. Elkins hung up his diploma he hung up his practicing days too.
"The basic practice of veterinary medicine is much the same as it always was," says Dr. Elkin. "The client-vet relationship is much like that of James Herriot. The interaction with the dairymen and the farm family is a classic."
The greatest evolution he has seen in veterinary medicine is all of the technological advancements in medicine and equipment used today.
Wayne Siegfried, DVM Dr. Wayne Siegfried graduated from Auburn University in 1964. He started his career at Columbus Veterinary Hospital as a small animal veterinarian where he became a partner. In 1967, Dr. Siegfried left the Columbus Veterinary Hospital and started the Siegfried Small Animal Hospital in Beaver Dam, Wis. Since 2001, Dr. Siegfried has been practicing part-time.
Throughout his career, Dr. Siegfried has seen great evolution in veterinary medicine. Among this evolution are the continual technological advances in diagnostic equipment and in the operation of business.
Dr. Siegfried stays very involved in the veterinary medicine community. He is involved with the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). He served on the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association (WVMA) Executive Board, president of the Dodge City Veterinary Medical Association and as the president of the Midwest Small Animal Association.
Richard Larsen, DVM Dr. Richard Larsen graduated from Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1964. He helped found Dairyland Animal Health in Weyauwega, Wis. where he spent his 30 year career practicing both large and small animal veterinary medicine before retiring in 1994. Dr. Larsen worked mostly as a large animal veterinarian, but he spent time examining small animals in between traveling from farm to farm.
The challenge of the profession, satisfaction of a job well done and all of the farm families are Dr. Larsen's fondest memories while practicing at Dairyland Animal Health. In those 30 years, Dr. Larsen had many amazing experiences traveling from farm to farm and much has changed from when he started practicing. The greatest change for him and the profession is herd size. Small and medium sized herds are disappearing or growing to larger herds and how small animal practices are continuing to increase. With many challenges and changes in the profession, Dr. Larsen says that he is very thankful for his veterinary career.
Wayne Barcus, DVM Dr. Wayne Barcus graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 1952. He is a large and small animal veterinarian who predominantly practiced large animal veterinary medicine. Dr. Barcus said about his career, "I graduated at the right time."
He had a group practice that served many small and medium sized family farms. Dr. Barcus recalls how he was on a first name basis with all of his clients, their children and the family dog.
After a 62 year carrer, Dr. Barcus continues to practicing part-time. Of some small clients, Dr. Barcus said over the years he saw many of his clients sell their farms and retire or take jobs at the local industrial park driving semi. He also stated the fluctuating farm economy made it difficult to maintain a consistent income. In those 62 years of evolution, Dr. Barcus has seen a rise in small animal practices as well as the growth in veterinary medical schools.
Even with all of the change one constant remains, his love for the veterinary profession and mentoring veterinary students. Dr. Barcus said he received a letter last Christmas from an equine practitioner in Missouri expressing his appreciation for mentoring him during an internship. Dr. Barcus also takes great pride in his oldest son Kevin following in his footsteps.
Dr. Barcus said of his 62 year carrer so far, "There have been many great memories, but overall it has been the appreciation of my services by my clients."
Over the past several years, the WVMA has become acutely aware of the increasing mental health and substance abuse stresses that our professionals are experiencing. Survey studies by mental health experts have quantified the challenges facing some of our colleagues. Articles in our press have made us aware of this issue. The stresses of veterinary school and practice can combine to create depression, anxiety, and even suicide for some of our colleagues.
In a cooperative effort to provide additional resources for our profession, the WVMA worked with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and Governor Walker’s office to get authorization for the creation of a Professional Assistance Program for Veterinarians and CVTs included in the 2017-19 state biennial budget bill. The program is funded with existing license fees and will be a much-needed resource for Wisconsin veterinary professionals who are struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues. This is a major victory for veterinarians in Wisconsin. The WVMA will be working with DATCP as this program is developed. We extend our thanks to DATCP and the Governor’s Office for their recognition of this need for our profession and the commitment to creating this professional assistance program.