One person working alone can accomplish great things. But when he reaches out, exchanges ideas, and learns from and grows with other great men or women, the possibilities are truly limitless.

For this reason, practitioners recognize the value of collaboration—of sharing ideas with others, either down the road or across the country. As has been done for decades, referring their clients to specialists in the field to provide the best care possible.

Sharing ideas, offering advice and seeking or providing specialty services not only benefits the practices involved. The clients reap the benefits, as well, say practitioners Tom Latta, DVM and Ben Blankenship, DVM.

Dr. Latta spent 20 years in general practice before expanding to consulting for feedlot and stocker clients near his practice in Spearman, Texas. He is a past president of the Academy of Veterinary Consultants and has been involved in the organization since its inception 30 years ago.

Dr. Blankenship has been in practice with Ashby Herd Health Services, Inc., in Harrisonburg, VA, for ten years. Comprised of seven bovine practitioners, the practice includes one partner performing only embryo transfer work, while the remaining practitioners focus on palpations, lab work, ultrasounding and general calls.

Both men have found strength and success in working with and learning from others in the industry.

Strength in Numbers

Seeking the advice from a mentor in the industry can serve as a valuable tool throughout your career, Dr. Latta says. And it may possibly be even more important in the beginning years.

“A new graduate needs nothing more than a mentor,” he says. “Seek a mentor that you admire for their personality, their character and their approach to veterinary medicine. That mentor can also help you determine your strengths and weaknesses.”

Regardless of your years of experience, Dr. Latta says, it’s important for veterinarians to understand both their strengths and limitations.

“Quite simply, you just can’t know it all,” he says. “We all have strengths and gifts. Regardless of our position, or how we’re viewed by the world, we still need help and references. In my mind, that’s the greatest reason we reach out to other veterinarians.”

Sometimes, realizing those attributes can prove difficult. Therefore, Dr. Latta says, it can be helpful to call on the assistance of colleagues.

“Do a realistic self evaluation on an annual basis,” he says. “But also develop a relationship with a colleague and ask him or her, ‘What do you see as my strengths, and what is something I can work on?’ If you’re married, ask your spouse, who may see things you don’t see.”


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Knowing what you enjoy can also lead to discovering your strengths, Dr. Blankenship says.

“In our practice, some enjoy reproduction, and some enjoy consulting on mastitis,” he says. “Another enjoys lab work, so he’s the man to do it. If you enjoy doing something, you’re going to do it to the best of your ability.”

Collaborating with other veterinarians can often go beyond simple advice. Sometimes, a client referral is needed.