As veterinarians, we are genetically programed to be helpers. Compassion, hard work, and a touch of stubbornness are also common denominators among colleagues. Each of us has a story of the time we took too long to fix the breech calf or refused to give up on the parvo puppy. Whether we like to admit it or not, most of those stories end with “I should have asked for help.”
Who is on your list of helpers? In practice, my list consisted of veterinary school friends, co-workers, and previous mentors. Veterinary extension was not on my radar, and to my defense, there was not much information available to me as a busy practice owner.
Extension has been around for over 100 years. The 1862 Morrill Act created land-grant universities in each state to bring agricultural education to all people. Then, in 1887, the Hatch Act established research farms in each land-grant institution to provide scientific-based answers to the questions being raised from rural populations. But there needed to be a way to get that information out to the public. The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 created the Cooperative Extension Service. The purpose was to “extend” the research information to America’s rural citizens to continually improve agricultural practices.
Several areas of interest are covered in the Cooperative Extension web, including Veterinary Extension. According to a JAVMA article there were fewer than a dozen extension veterinarians in the 1930s, but the number increased to 122 by 1999. The AVMA passed a policy on “Support for Veterinary Extension Services” in 2011 stating: “The AVMA recognizes the vital role of veterinary extension services in protecting the health and well-being of food animals and in contributing to public health and enhanced international competitiveness and supports optimal funding for veterinary extension services.”
The University of Nebraska has several Extension Veterinarians, including five at GPVEC. One of our duties include extending current animal health research information to Nebraska practitioners. We focus on individual and herd-based cases, site visits, and continuing education programing. In addition to animal health, other topics include biosecurity, animal welfare, One Health/Public Health, emergency preparedness, and food safety. Having split appointments in teaching and research allows us to use cases to educate veterinary students as well as find new answers to problems in the field with research trials.
While we do not claim to have all the answers, we do have the time and resources to help you find solutions. Our first question to any producer who calls is “who is your veterinarian?” It is crucial that we maintain the veterinary-client-patient relationship. Our two goals are to help Nebraska veterinarians be successful at practicing outstanding medicine and ensure Nebraskans continue to produce a high quality, safe product while maintaining profitability.
The next time you find yourself in the middle of a “I should have asked for help” story, give us a call. We are happy to talk. After all, it’s in our DNA.