• Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Login
    Login Login form

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.

Last modified on
in Presidents Message 34

Market animal show and sales are common place across Wisconsin. These meat animal projects are a great venue to teach many valuable life lessons to the youth involved. Local businesses support the youth by buying their animals at elevated prices in the auctions. The prices paid for the champion animals is usually many times market price. The financial rewards of these projects have spurred youth participation and increased the competitive nature of the projects. But sometimes good intentions can run amuck. The allure of winning and receiving big payouts at the auction can over shadow the original goals. Teaching, which includes good husbandry practices and character development, was a priority of the projects initially. Now it seems that winning takes precedent; in this case, at the expense of animal welfare.

Docking lambs soon after birth is a routine management practice which is a generally recognized strategy to reduce fly strike later in the sheep’s life. In the past several decades as youth market lamb show and sales have become more popular, there has been a trend to dock show lambs shorter and shorter. The impetus for this shortening of the docked tail is to give the appearance of a more muscular rump and rear leg of the lamb, making it more competitive. Over this same time frame many in the sheep industry observed an increase in the incidence of rectal prolapses in these ultra-short docked lambs and suspected dock length to be a contributing factor. By this time, though, the UK already had established laws requiring that docked tails cover the genitalia of ewes and the anus of rams for health and animal welfare reasons.

Last modified on Continue reading
in Presidents Message 39

This is the time of year that my wife and I start getting regular mail solicitations and annual donation requests from various charitable groups. The charitable spirit of the holiday season is relied upon by these organizations and a concerted effort is made to capitalize on it. Our society seems to be more motivated by the adage “It is better to give than receive” at this time of year than any other time.

The mail requesting donations that we receive is highly correlated to the previous year’s giving. We keep a list of each year’s charitable giving and review it and compare it to the stack of requests we’ve accumulated. Our choices vary from year to year, affected no doubt by recent events.

Last modified on Continue reading
in Presidents Message 249

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.

Last modified on
in Presidents Message 388

“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!

Last modified on Continue reading
Tagged in: Presidents Message
in Presidents Message 582
4610 S. Biltmore Lane, Suite 107
Madison, WI 53718
Phone: (608) 257-3665
Fax: (608) 257-8989
Email: wvma@wvma.org

WVMA-Foundation-Logo Final