Dr. Frank Zak wrote the following letter to his fellow veterinarians during his 70th year as a veterinarian. Dr. Zak died in 2012 and VSTONE continues to honor his legacy of giving to and supporting his profession.
December 6, 2011
For the past seventy years, I have had the pleasure of doing something I loved - practicingVeterinary medicine. This love for animals started when I was a young boy growing up on my family farm in Western Massachusetts. When our livestock grew ill and died, I knew that one day I wanted to be able to help animals to get better. Over the past 70 years, much has changed in the profession and in veterinary medicine. New England was without a veterinary school for over 30 years with the closing of Middlesex Veterinary School. With a movement driven by New England veterinarians came the subsequent opening of the Cummings School at Tufts University. Women were admitted into veterinary school and are now a major driving force of the profession. Distemper was eradicated in the United States and a vaccine was created to prevent future outbreaks. House visits have been replaced by million dollar state-of-the-art veterinary medical centers. However, the things that haven't changed are our commitments to our patients, our clients, the care and well-being of animals, and the advancement of our profession.
We must protect our profession and we can do that by supporting each other. We support each other through our involvement in professional organizations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), and community associations such as Veterinary Association of the North Shore (VANS). These organizations were created for us, by us, and have provided us with some of the necessary tools to flourish and to grow as veterinarians. We also must support our veterinary students both financially and through personal mentoring as they are the future of the profession.
We must not lose sight that we are there for the animals and not get bogged down with running test after test to find a complex diagnosis. Sometimes the simplest way to diagnose is to look at the patient and listen to the client. There is no such thing as asking too many questions.
Furthermore, our clients need us just as much as their animals do. The benefit of running a practice for so long are the friendships I have developed with most of my clients. I have seen their children grow up and have children of their own. I have attended their baptisms, their weddings, and unfortunately their funerals. These relationships are sometimes the best part of being a veterinarian. Sometimes we are not just veterinarians; we are life coaches, therapists, and an impartial third party to our clients. It is their trust in us that has allowed our profession to succeed and to flourish.
Therefore, we must remember that the people we interact with are just as important as the animals we care for, and supporting each other in our endeavors as veterinarians will allow for a long life, a long career, and a flourishing profession.