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.
'Tis the Season to Give!
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.
This year we are adding a new organization to our charitable giving list, the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Foundation (WVMF). Veterinary foundations are established to provide financial support to animals and their caregivers in unusual and needy situations. On the national level, the AVMA has the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF), which is well established and strong, with millions of dollars in net assets. The AVMF has distributed over $10 million in grants since it’s inception in 1963, including $100,000 for hurricane relief this past summer. The Texas Veterinary Medical Association also has a foundation the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation (TVMF) that was established in 1978. The TVMF raises hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and also has assets of millions. The TVMF has provided relief for hurricanes, including Katrina and most recently Harvey. Once established, a Foundation can act as a conduit from other charities to deliver the needed help to animals and their caregivers.
Keep in mind that foundations do more than disaster relief. Programs can be created for low income, elderly, or homeless pet owners to support pet care that might otherwise be neglected. Scholarships for veterinary students facing unusual or unexpected hardships, as well as public education awareness programs for pet care are other examples of the work of foundations.
Compared to the AVMF and the TVMF, the WVMF has just been born. We are in our infancy, but we have to start somewhere. The WVMF Board of Directors has met for the first time this past year. We currently have assets of approximately $10,000 total, a pittance compared to the AVMF or the TVMF. It is for that reason we have decided to help grow the WVMF’s reserves, so it can provide help right here in Wisconsin. I hope you will consider this too. If your clinic makes charitable donations in the memory of patients that have died, consider making them to the WVMF.
Watch for more news about the WVMF in the coming months.Last modified on