Letters to dvm360: Campfield Old School, New School series looks to be a hit


Readers resonate with portrayal of older and younger veterinarians working together.

I'm excited about Dr. Jeremy Campbell's new series comparing the Old School with the New School. Being a chartered, lifetime member of the former gives me and my ilk a perspective that the newer initiates cannot comprehend. I like the inference that one of them is “good” and the other one is “new.” Surely it refers to the difference between street smarts and book smarts, both being necessary. 

Occasionally, when I'm stumped with a case that needs extra time and mental energy, I'll think to myself that I should have seen this case back when I first got out of school. I knew everything then, but now I must have forgotten it. Time served in practice teaches you to be observant of everything, both the objective (physical examinations, lab tests, radiographs, ultrasound) and the subjective (history; animal's body language, demeanor, reactions; owner's thoughts and impressions).

Even after 40-plus years of private practice, I still frequently reflect on a case I saw early in my career. A Labrador named Gado was presented with a hind leg lameness, and the way he was carrying the limb, it sure looked like a stifle injury. After all, he was a high-energy field trial competitor. On palpation of the stifle, no dysfunction was found, so I moved up to the hip. Sure enough, he yelped, and radiographs confirmed my suspicions of early hip dysplasia. He went home with carprofen while I gloated. “Damn, I'm good!” Score another win for me.

A couple of hours later, the client calls me and states, “Doc, I just noticed that Gado has a broken toenail on the same leg he's limping on. Do you think that may have been the reason?”

For the last 40 years, Gado has been memorialized in my physical exams. What's the old saying? Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment. Us old codgers have a wealth of experience that we are willing to share, but often, since we are who we are, it falls on deaf ears. Unsolicited advice is ill-received.

Forty years from now, Dr. Greenskin will be Dr. Grayhair and the cycle keeps repeating. Bring on the articles!

Jim Hagee, DVM

Chugiak, Alaska


The series by Dr. Jeremy Campfield, Old School, New School, is spot on. I have been in practice for 50 years. It has been a wonderful ride and I still love what I do. The age process differential is interesting. I have found it easy to adapt to new ideas in a changing world of veterinary patients and business. I suspect that it will be a lot tougher for Dr. Valley Girl to find success.

Practice life has afforded me so many wonderful things: opportunity, financial security, family, a job I love while “providing the best possible patient care while that patient is under my direction.”

It is a subject that needs much future discussion if Dr. Valley Girl is to find success in the profession I love. The secret starts with a desire to serve and embracing capitalism. It is a subject for much more discussion.

Richard Lanier, DVM

Greensboro, Georgia, and Rochester Hills, Michigan

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