Straight talk

Everyday challenges

Each job comes with its own set of challenges - some small, some big. Swine veterinarians were asked to identify the challenges that they deal with on the job.

From Jim Lowe

The biggest challenge that I face on a daily basis is the lack of time to get the best information that I need to do my job well. Information technology like the Web has made information very accessible to everyone and has dramatically reduced the time that it takes to get that information. Because there is so much good information available, though, it takes a tremendous amount of time to read and digest that information before we can make informed decisions. It is a fun and rewarding challenge, but a challenge nonetheless.

From Joaquin Becerril

The most difficult issue I face in my daily work is dealing with the labor force. I need to provide them with enough motivation so they will carry out their chores according to our standard operating procedures. I have obtained the best performance from the workers when we have developed a long-term program with a series of goals and incentives clearly established on a win-win basis. Usually I am very explicit with my workers, letting them know the following five points so they will know where we are heading:

  • Expected results identified (real goals);
  • Strategies and routines specified (procedures and principles);
  • Resources identified (human, economic, technical);
  • Evaluations established (specified procedures);
  • Consequences established (what can be expected, outcomes good or bad).

From Steve Henry

Every day is a holiday, every meal is a feast! That is the life of a swine practitioner! I cannot work with better people. The producers and workers are intelligent, dedicated, curious, and caring people who make each day a new excitement. Do we solve all the problems? No way - and we can hardly keep up with the new problems. But because we also get to work with competitive people who are not risk adverse, we push forward. 'Cause if it was that easy, everyone would be a pig farmer and pigs would be worth nothing - sort of like turnips.

From Dave Madsen

The everyday issues that plague me as a swine veterinarian in 2005:

  • The premise that an individual entity can hold hostage the rest of the pork industry over something called intellectual property, while providing no useful or effective means of preventing the most serious health issue we face.
  • The current trend of managing health through statistical evaluation of historical data as opposed to real-time assessment of health and disease status as it occurs (ie, looking at the records instead of the pigs). This trend allows excess mortality and appears poised to be the norm rather than the exception.
  • The practice of vendor financing continues to place unrealistic constraints on intervention strategies for disease amelioration when those strategies are perpendicular to the vendor's contract to provide production inputs, often at an inflated price. At some point, it has to be about the pig!

From Jim McKean

In my role as an extension veterinarian, the decision-making environment must be dealt with daily. Particularly in program development arenas, rarely does one size fit all in program application or information needs. Minimizing competitive disadvantages is a constant struggle. In some cases, the newest products and procedures are not better or more cost-effective than the old standbys, but they may be promoted more. Ultimately, the pig pays for any program or treatment regimen, so it is imperative to maximize available evidence to efficiently accomplish the task.

From Jennifer Greiner

My duties at the Indiana State Board of Animal Health are focused on the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). I also dabble in Emergency and Preparedness Planning. My most difficult issue each day is education. From explaining the basics of influenza virus to explaining the value of the NAIS, I am challenged to frame messages in such a way that the individual understands the importance of the message and will eventually buy into the message.

From Paul Sundberg

From an association perspective, the most difficult issue that we face every day is being able to clearly communicate with pork producers. We have a wealth of information and networking, and we are continually challenged with getting that information out to producers in a useable fashion. Availability of and access to information is a critical part of the producer's ability to remain competitive. The most cost-effective and efficient way for that exchange of information is through the veterinarians who work with a variety of producers on a daily basis. That's why we rely so heavily on the relationships that AASV members have with their clients and on the AASV members' "delivery power."

From Perry Harms

One of the most difficult issues is finding the balance between ideal programs, practices, or both and what can be implemented or is cost-effective. Most decisions become a negotiation between the competing causes, and the starting position for those negotiations is different for each person or farm manager.

-- Tracy Ann Raef