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.
Four WVMA Members Awarded 50 Year Award
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."Last modified on