Dr. Dave Medic graduated from Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine, in 1974 and has spent the majority of his career dedicated to large animal medicine. He was honored in August at PVMA’s Hall of Fame Dinner with PVMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of a lifetime of devoted service to the veterinary profession, to the continued improvement of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association, and to the growth of the Northwest Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association Equine Symposium. Dr. Medic continues to run his large animal practice in Clarks Mills, PA.
What do you do in an average day?
I don’t know that there are any average days in any large animal practice, and that is why I like it. Each day is different. What may start out as a slow day winds up late into the night. I have a solo ambulatory practice consisting of approximately 90% dairy farms plus pleasure equine, and small herds and flocks of goats, swine, and sheep filling in the rest. I have several dairy herds on a scheduled monthly or bi-monthly visit for herdchecks. Most of this time is spent on pregnancy exams, post-partum evaluation, and problem breeders. I will also do vaccinations for prevention of a multitude of diseases and dehorn young stock. Examination of animals not doing well are done then, but many times I am called on an unscheduled day to examine and treat sick animals for whatever ails them. The equine work is more seasonal with routine vaccinations, etc., done primarily in the spring and early summer.
You focus mainly on large animal medicine. What do you think is the public’s greatest misconception about agriculture animals?
In the last 30-40 years, there has been a great disconnect between agriculture and the general public. Previously, many individuals had friends or relatives that were on a farm, and they were able to see firsthand the process of growing food and fiber and how it was brought to the buying public. Not anymore. Today, the public’s perception is guided by what they see and read from sources that may not be very accurate or have hidden anti-agriculture agendas. One of the most common misconceptions is that if the farm is large, it must be an evil corporate enterprise that is mistreating animals for the sake of gaining the most profit.
My experience has been that if someone mistreats an animal, whether a small or large operation, the profit is lost. Many large, so-called “corporate factory” farms are really family operations that have changed structurally for economic survival and future growth.
How has veterinary medicine changed since you graduated?
When I first started practice in 1974, it was all about treating and caring for the individual animal. Veterinarians treated the milk fevers, retained placentas, delivered the difficult births, gave most vaccinations, and trimmed sore feet. Evaluating the herd as a whole, implementing production medicine, scheduled herd health visits, ration balancing and milking system analysis were just starting to become more accepted and wanted by the clients. Today, I still do individual animal examination and treatments, but many dairymen do most of it themselves with guidance (hopefully) from their veterinarians.
In your opinion, what’s been the best innovation in large animal medicine?
Personal computers and the internet. When I first started formulating dairy rations, I used paper, pencil, and a calculator. It took hours. Today, using modern computers and ration balancing software, rations can be formulated and/or changed within minutes. The results are vastly superior also. Record keeping on and off the farm is much more efficient and workable.
With the development and growth of the internet email list serves for bovine, equine, small ruminants and other species, vast amounts of information can be shared from worldwide sources and individuals. Being able to obtain valuable information and insight about a puzzling case from veterinarians who specialize or who have had experience in similar situations has been invaluable for me, and the information gathered may arrive within minutes from half way around the world. There have been many other advances in large animal medicine from which I have benefited, but I would still have to say that modern computers and the world wide web have had the greatest impact in guiding me through my career for the past 15 – 20 years.
You organize and run the NWPVMA Equine Symposium. What prompted you to start this meeting?
As a veterinarian, I believe that educating animal owners and the public is just as important a role as treating and caring for animals. There are many, many horses in western Pennsylvania, northeastern Ohio, and western New York. Most are on small backyard-type farms, but some are in commercial stables. I thought there was a need to provide this sector of animal owners with current information concerning the care and well-being of their horses.
There is a plethora of information and misinformation bombarding the equine community. By attending the NWPVMA Equine Symposium, the horse loving public as well as veterinarians could obtain reliable, factual knowledge in which to evaluate all that was thrown at them. Having it at convenient site and offering much more at the symposium than anyone expected have created a very loyal, engaged audience that looks forward to it each year.
In addition to that, I thought it be a good public relations accomplishment for veterinarians of the NWPVMA to be able to invite their clients to such an event in order to demonstrate to their clients that they care about them and their horses beyond just the barn setting.
We have been very fortunate to have had some of the most knowledgeable, world-renowned equine veterinarians presenting timely topics.
The symposium has become a two day program. The first day is for veterinarians and their staff. Some years we incorporate farrier topics and invite them as well. The second day is primarily for horse owners, trainers, breeders, students, and anyone else who has an interest in learning more about horses. The first six symposiums have attracted 1,000 different individuals and have been well-received by the attendees, sponsors, and local community. It has surprisingly attracted some national attention from other veterinary groups attempting to establish a similar program.
If you I cannot think of anothhad it to do over again, would you still choose to be a veterinarian and why?
er profession that enables one to choose from such a wide variety of career paths once you graduate with a degree in veterinary medicine. I was raised on a farm in Irwin, PA. The township had 40,000 residents. I wanted to be associated with agriculture and knew that staying on the farm would have severe limitations with land values soaring and the allied agricultural infrastructure dwindling. So during my third year at Penn State, I decided to apply to veterinary school and was fortunate enough to be accepted at both Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania.
I value the profession’s history and status in society knowing that it is not just a “job.” I love visiting and speaking with other veterinarians, and I am proud of the contributions our profession and organized veterinary medicine have provided to improve animal welfare and public health. I don’t dread Mondays nor agonize that Fridays are so slow to arrive. The following definition of Masterful Living by James Michener sums up rather nicely that toward which I strive and why I would choose to be a veterinarian if I had to do it all over again.
“The Master in the Art of Living draws no distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves it to others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he is always doing both.”