Mentoring bridges veterinary medicine's future with its collective experiences

Mar 01, 2005

This month in......
Steve Windsor looked out at the aging sign in the front of the hospital. He mused as he remembered a time when signs were considered unprofessional. When he had purchased this sign, his friends had told him that his colleagues in town had made "off the cuff" remarks about the decline of professional conduct within the profession.

He was now amused.

Those same veterinary clinics now have outdoor signs that P.T. Barnum would be proud of. He needed a new sign. However, that was the least of his worries. He began to daydream.

Windsor Veterinary Hospital was built in 1972 shortly after Steve graduated from veterinary school. He worked hard in the rural community and by 1980 had hired two more associates, one of which was still his partner. Steve and his partner, J.D. Stallings, worked tirelessly in the community and had built up the large-animal side of the practice to about 80 percent of the total. Steve was also a proud member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and several other associations. He had attended every annual AVMA meeting in the last 20 years.

Then, a small disaster struck. Eighteen months ago, Jeremy Snyder, an associate he had hired in 1990, suddenly had become severely disabled in an automobile accident. Jeremy, who had done both large- and small-animal medicine, would be out of the loop indefinitely. Steve was pressed. He and J.D. didn't like the small-animal side of practice much, but both had done a small share of the load to give Jeremy a break. They now needed help on both the large- and the small-animal side of practice. It would take several months to find someone.

The "someone" finally appeared in the form of a married couple — Jared and Melissa Cassidy. The Cassidy's were new graduates with little agricultural background but with fresh information from the university. They were eager to learn and immerse themselves in the new world of rural practice. Their excitement and energy seemed boundless. Jared took on the large-animal duties and Melissa had agreed to work four days per week doing the small-animal side of practice and also take an occasional large animal emergency.

June "Hello, Melissa! — Jared. Hey, I'm calling from the Johnson farm. I'm hung up here with a down cow. Dr. Windsor has scheduled me with several other calls to do this afternoon, and I can't get hold a him to see if he will cover one of them. I'm not sure how to handle this particular situation, and I cannot get of hold of J.D. either. Can you call ... ?

"Hold on Jared. Nobody is here but 'yours truly' and a Bulldog I am trying to do a C-section on. I don't know where anybody is. I'll call you if I can find someone."

Jared put his phone in his pocket and looked at the cow. The farmer looked puzzled; so did Jared.

Steve and J.D. never carried cell phones. Both of their trucks carried old radios but didn't use them much. Both Steve and J.D. were direct and independent people. They were going to let Jared pretty much figure things out on his own.

Jared had overheard Steve say to J.D., "That's the best way for 'em to learn, anyway."