Iowa veterinarian gets motivation from helping customers solve problems

posted on Wednesday, March 1, 2017 in AMVC Veterinarians in the News

Dr. Tom Ulrickson, DVM, grew up in a small South Dakota town knowing his calling was to study hard and become a veterinarian. His childhood hero was the local vet - a man in whose footsteps he greatly wanted to follow.

Now that he's an established practicing veterinarian, one naturally might think his favorite part of the job is spending his days among the animals. And for most vets, that may be the case. But for Ulrickson, the people he interacts with on a daily basis are just as important as the cattle he treats.

Of course caring for livestock is great, he insists. But like any other career path he could have chosen, the work itself is only as satisifying as the relationships he builds along the way.

"I've been at this a number of years, and now when I walk downtown, it's all 'Hi Doc. Hi Doc,' and that's kind of fun," Ulrickson says. And while working with cattle brings him plenty of joy, impossible to hold meaningful conversations with the four-legged feedyard dwellers.

Fortunately for Ulrickson, producers don't come to him because of his cow-whispering ability. They choose him because he is a skilled and trustworthy professional.

Ulrickson graduated from Iowa State University's veterinary college and spent the first 11 years of his career practicing in Albia, Iowa. He's worked the last 25 years with AMVC in Manning, Iowa, where he currently serves on the board of the Iowa Livestock Health Advisory Council, and he's the past president of the Southwest Iowa Veterinary Medical Association.

Though he loves visiting with customers in the clinic and is passionate about his craft, not every day is a cakewalk. Ulrickson's biggest hurdle as a veterinarian? Bovine respiratory disease.

"BRD is probably the number one killer of cattle in our feedlots, and it has a huge economic impact," says Ulrickson. "Even if the cattle don't doe, BRD can turn them into chronic poor-doers. We want to prevent that economic loss."

That's why he recommends Zactran to his customers with sick or at-risk cattle.

"I've been in practice a long time, and I've found that Zactran is the antibiotic I most like to prescribe," Ulrickson says. "It provides a good kick up front, and I'm happy with the duration. The producer doesn't have to get the animal in again and retreat it. It's good for the animal and it's good for the producer."

After using Zactran and seeing the success he knows it's capable of achieving, Ulrickson is reminded of why he loves being a veterinarian.

"A perfect day for me is when I go home knowing I've helped my producers. Everyone sleeps better at night."

Credit to: Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, printed in February 2017 Bovine Veterinarian.