“It is kind of like being named the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs,” says veterinarian Dr. Jodi Wallace who received the prestigious Practitioner of the Year award from the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP). She was honoured on September 23 during the association’s annual conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The award, which is sponsored by pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim, recognizes “career excellence in bovine practice, including the delivery of individual animal and/or group level preventive and production medicine services.” It was established in 1978 to recognize practicing veterinarians who demonstrate excellence in beef and/or dairy practice and excellence in present and past achievements, and who have earned respect from veterinary colleagues for their mentorship and support. Other important considerations for the award include the recipient’s contributions to continuing education, the development of herd/production unit management strategies, and the improvement of the beef and/or dairy industries.
Wallace was nominated by a past recipient, Dr. Kelly Baratt, who introduced her as “a mentor and educator of future vets, practicing vets, and producers – not only in Canada, but also in the U.S. and in Europe.” Baratt also referred to the award winner as an all-around cow champion who developed the “zero-treatment, zero-loss” calf health program on the Howick farm she shares with her husband Mark Anderson and their four children.
In her acceptance speech, Wallace thanked her family, friends, and her co-workers at the Ormstown Veterinary Hospital (OVH), before suggesting she had no idea she had even been nominated for the distinction. “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team,’ and I really appreciate everybody’s support and commitment in putting up with me and my crazy ideas,” she added, before thanking the organization for the honour.
Now back at her practice in Ormstown, she sums up the experience as surreal. “Everything you have done kind of leads up to this moment,” she says, before pointing out, “It’s not just my award. It is a team effort.”
She says she has been overwhelmed by the response to her award. “When I told a client I had won, he was in tears,” she says, explaining that her farmers are like family. “We have a working business relationship where 80 per cent of our work is preventative,” she explains, noting that the number-one job of food-animal vets is to ensure a healthy food chain.
Wallace graduated as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph in 2002. She earned a master’s degree in veterinary science in 2009 from the Faculté de médécine vétérinaire at the Université de Montréal in Saint-Hyacinthe. Wallace is a co-owner of the OVH where, along with her everyday vet practice, she specializes in milk quality and calf health. She was recently named president of the Canadian Association of Bovine Veterinarians.