Finding the herd problem in the single case
Economic realities and need for improved efficiency have required a shift in large animal veterinary practice towards more population-level consultation, with veterinarians spending less of their time treating individual animals. The population, however, is comprised of individuals who provide valuable information about the state of the herd. When presented with the individual animal who is demonstrating overt disease or poor production, the veterinarian has an opportunity to scale-up their impact by using the information obtained from the individual to benefit the herd. Veterinarians should develop a full-service mindset, which includes obtaining a definitive diagnosis through thorough history-taking, physical examination, ancillary diagnostic techniques, and premise visits. Written reports which include stepwise and attainable recommendations are used to improve communication and provide clarity regarding expectations for both the producer and the veterinarian. Follow up calls and visits demonstrate genuine concern on the part of the veterinarian for their client's success, and are an invaluable learning opportunity for the veterinarian. Professional growth for the veterinarian includes learning what works and what doesn't in a given situation. Subsequent herds under the care of a veterinarian practicing the 'no news is good news' approach fail to receive the full benefit of a veterinarian who has disciplined him or herself to follow through on every case. Veterinarians have an opportunity to become indispensable to their clients by channeling every piece of data that may be obtained from the individual to benefit the health and welfare of the herd.