Jim Wilson, DVM, JD, retires from teaching


The veterinary and legal author, speaker and teacher's exit is too bad for the next generation of veterinarians who won't get a class with this legal and veterinary mind. And, let's get personal: I'll miss him.

Jim Wilson, DVM, JD, said his final goodbyes to regular teaching in this University of Pennsylvania veterinary school visit. (Photo courtesy author)I recently witnessed something quite amazingan end to an era, really. I was sitting in a classroom at the University of Pennsylvania and watched Jim Wilson, DVM, JD, teach his last class. Thats right. Dr. Wilson has retired from teaching.

Wilson and I first began teaching at veterinary schools more than 20 years ago and together weve taught at almost 30 veterinary schools. Wilson, of course, taught legal jurisprudence, and I taught practice management.

Wilson always related well to veterinary students. He seemed to enjoy nothing more than a lively debate on a legal topic or a chance to challenge students to think about things from a different perspective. Once I observed him talking about an animal abuse case, giving the facts of the case, asking students if indeed this was legal abuse and what, if any, responsibility the veterinarian had. The students were all over the place, some saying the veterinarian bore no responsibility and others ready to call the police. There was a twinkle in Wilsons eye that day. Plainly, he enjoyed seeing the students think the problem through and figure out the correct answer.

Wilson has taught veterinary school students for almost 30 years and has touched thousands of lives. He has written numerous books on legal and ethical issues for veterinarians. Todays DVMs are better professionals because of Wilson and the impact he has had on them. Few can teach the way he taught.

Wilson is only semi-retired, of course. He continues to offer consulting services, and he'll still drop in to drop knowledge at a few schools (Washington State University, Iowa State University and North Carolina State University students are lucky). He is passing the teaching baton to Lance Roasa, DVM, JD, and I look forward to continuing to teach future veterinarians with him. But it wont be the same. I couldnt let this momentous event go by without acknowledging Wilson and the amazing impact he has had and, through his teaching, will continue to have on the veterinary profession.

Thank you, Jim, for all the hours of preparation, all the travel and all the nights you spent far away from home, to teach our future veterinarians. You have made and will continue to make a difference in this world. I will miss you.

Mark Opperman, CVPM, is co-owner of veterinary consulting firm VMC Inc. in Evergreen, Colorado, and is co-author of The Art of Veterinary Practice Management.

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