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.
Make an Impact!
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.
As summer passes by, the time of year for the WVMA to fill officer and board vacancies rolls around, sounds like the time to cultivate! Yes, serving in a leadership role is a significant time commitment, however I encourage you to have fun in a leadership role. Yes, there are challenges, but there is also prestige and personal growth.
My top ten list to be an effective volunteer leader -
1. Commit yourself to make a difference.
2. Don't avoid controversy and risk.
3. Don't drive your agenda, use your platform to drive your vision.
4. Don't underestimate resistance to change.
5. Don't waste time.
6. Be consistent.
7. Ask questions.
8. Come to meetings prepared.
9. Have a plan of priorities and actions.
10. Engage and maintain open communication with leaders up and down the line.
When leadership opportunities come calling, I encourage you to answer with enthusiasm, answer with passion, and answer to make the commitment! Volunteer leadership is a vehicle to have fun, to connect with the profession, to make an impact. I encourage you to have the attitude; we're going to try new things, we're going to innovate, realizing not everything is going to work. Remember, even Monopoly has a get out of jail free card!Last modified on