The Executive Veterinary Program at Illinois
DR. JIM LOWE: So, Dan, I mean, you and I spend a lot of time talking about, why are retailers making us think about antibiotics? I guess, I'm frustrated and excited and confused all at the same time. You know, you taught in veterinary school but do we really teach this stuff? Are we preparing our vets to deal with this new industry?
DR. DAN THOMSON: No. The thing that we do at veterinary schools, we're teaching the foundational things to be a good clinician, and to go out and provide preventative medicine and care to the industry. And so, this whole responsibility of safe food, wholesome food, and understanding how to help our producers stay in business. That's the reason why we came up with EVP.
DR. JIM LOWE: Well, I think we'd better explain what EVP is. Hi, I'm Dr. Jim Lowe from the University of Illinois, and I'm talking with Dr. Dan Thomson, a bovine veterinarian from Iowa State University, to talk about the EVP, or the Executive Veterinary Program at Illinois. Welcome to The Round Barn.
DR. JIM LOWE: So, the Executive Veterinary Program is an intensive continuing education program that Dr. LeRoy Biehl developed 30 years ago. And it's set up as a series of modules, so that two days every other month, we get together, you build a bunch of relationships with like-minded veterinarians, and cover a very specific topic. It's intensive training over 12 hours in two days to learn about a topic that's relevant to these complex issues facing the industry. You know, it's had a history of veterinarians with some experience to a lot of experience. I know in my EVP class years ago, there were veterinarians who'd been out of school 25 years, and we had veterinarians that had been out of school two or three years. So, it's that unique mix that's really, really important.
So, Dan, you've been integral in developing this EVP program with us for beef cattle veterinarians, as really both our technical expert and our veterinary professional expert. So, how does this EVP thing work? I mean, what happens, what do we cover, how does that go back and forth?
DR. DAN THOMSON: What it really boils down to is the content and the instructors are also veterinarians that are so engaging at different levels of our industry, from repro to commodity interactions to retail space, everything from boots on the ground things that I can provide my clients, and handling complex issues from cases to preventative medicine. You know, we're gonna talk about things from animal welfare to clinical cases so that you understand how to improve clinical outcomes through better reasoning. We're gonna have animal handling, and how that has an impact on stress. You know, nutrition, disease prevention, how to use leadership skills to prevent disease. And then we're going to talk about data and interpretation of data. And then, it wraps up, you know, really focusing in on where's the industry headed, and how do we as veterinarians help our clients and the producers meet the demands of the consumers in the food supply chain in the future?
DR. JIM LOWE: I think, Dan, that's really the good part about EVP, right? We cover kind of this broad set of skills that hasn't been taught in veterinary school, and is a blend of things you need from business school to a Ph. D. program, right? And let's not confuse it, this is not a graduate degree. But, there'd be subjects we would cover, and it's this breadth of medicine and production and business, in a real-world format, to address real-world, today, take-it-home-and-use-it problems, right? That's what we strive to do, and I think 30 years of experience have told us that it works. And it's certainly evolved. The curriculum from 1991 does not look like the curriculum today. But, it's been this long history.
I think it's important, Dan, is that, you know, you're not just an instructor of the program, and I'm not just an instructor of the program, but we're both EVP graduates. So, why did you do EVP, and why has it got a special place? Why do you keep coming back to it?
DR. DAN THOMSON: Number one, we go through veterinary school, and you separate from your classmates. You have some of these special relationships, but this is really a second veterinary class, that you are forming a network of bovine practitioners and veterinarians across the country and beyond. And so, you know, this class was so tight, the first class, they're having a class reunion already to get together and share experiences once again, unprompted. So, that's one.
But the other one is, is the exposure to the industry experts and to the people that bring these types of ideas and new ideals and forward-thinking clinical practice, combined with an understanding of production in our beef industry, that I get exposed to every two months.
DR. JIM LOWE: I think EVP for me, Dan, was, as you said, a second veterinary class. And if I look at my closest friends in the profession today, they're EVP classmates. You get to know these people exceedingly well. You spend two years together, you learn about families. It's a little bit like grad school, in that you got a really close group of friends that you learn a lot about. But your emphasis on learning about other contacts and other experts, I learned that, and I look at the opportunities we provide, right, we're going to go spend time in a retailer and learn how a retailer thinks. And that's just not something we get as veterinarians, or access we have as veterinarians. And those things, even as an instructor today, you know, I may teach a module or two, but the other seven modules, I always take stuff home. It's still valuable to me, you know, as the students would call me, as an old fart, to do those things. And that's been really, really useful. And we really think that this next class will provide those exact same experiences that we've had in the past.
DR. DAN THOMSON: One of the things that always kind of frustrates me as a veterinarian when I do talks on this, or on animal handling, or antibiotics, people say, "I wish my veterinarian was here to hear this." And you know, it's about bringing our profession to the level or ahead of the industries that we serve.
DR. JIM LOWE: Well, our focus on EVP will be on beef cattle management. The first session's on November 4th and 5th this year in Omaha. To can register learn more about the program, please visit evp.illinois.edu.
Dan, I can't wait to see you in November with our students in this next class. It's going to be fantastic.
Thanks for joining us. We hope you enjoyed listening. We'd love to hear from you, too. Find us on Twitter. Our handle is @theroundbarn1, or you can email us at email@example.com. We may even share your comments on our next show. Please subscribe and tell your friends about the show. It's available on iTunes or the podcatcher of your choice.