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Merck Animal Health (known as MSD Animal Health outside the United States and Canada) and the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) presented Gordon Atkins, D.V.M., with the Mentor of the Year Award at the AABP Annual Conference. This award, which is issued annually, recognizes an individual who has played a role in educating, supporting and advancing the careers of future bovine veterinarians.
“Dr. Atkins has mentored countless students, inspiring them to pursue their interest in bovine medicine,” said Justin Welsh, D.V.M., executive director, livestock technical services for Merck Animal Health. “He cares about every student, goes the extra mile to help them achieve their goals and leaves a tremendous impact on their lives as well as the animals in their care.”
Dr. Atkins grew up on a dairy farm in the Calgary, Canada area, received his D.V.M., with distinction, from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 1973 and has been practicing veterinary medicine in the Calgary area since graduation. In 2008, Dr. Atkins joined the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) as senior instructor, clinical skills, and in 2015 was one of only a few faculty members to be given the inaugural designation of teaching professor.
“Mentoring and teaching come easily to Dr. Atkins, as he simply leads by example: first one at the clinic in the morning, last one to leave, a constant professional,” said Troy Drake, D.V.M., owner of HerdTrax Inc., Kathyrn, Alberta, who was hired by Dr. Atkins’ veterinary practice as a third-year veterinary student and subsequently an associate veterinarian. “His contributions go well beyond bovine surgery and medicine. He has made his students, fellow veterinarians, the veterinary profession, cattle producers, and the entire livestock industry better off because of his passion for and mentorship within veterinary medicine.”
Dr. Atkins has played a large role in the delivery of the university’s D.V.M. program, according to John Kastelic, D.V.M, Ph.D, professor and head, Department of Production Animal Health, University of Calgary. “He has 300 to 400 hours of contact time spent with students annually for lectures and laboratories,” said Kastelic. “He draws on his decades of practice experience and huge library of photographs and videos to convey his message. He consistently receives extremely high rankings from veterinary students in teaching assessments.”
Dr. Atkins has won many awards for his contributions to veterinary medicine, including the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association of the Year Award, Carl J. Norden Distinguished Teacher Award and a University of Calgary Union Teaching Excellence Award through nomination by veterinary students. “Perhaps the most exceptional accolade is his personal commitment and dedication to each student,” said Megan Dick, a student in the UCVM class of 2020.
Fellow student Rae-Leigh Pederzolli said Dr. Atkins is one of the most involved professors and mentors that a student could ask for, and that didn’t stop after she left school. “As a new graduate, I have called Dr. Atkins late at night and early in the morning only to hear happiness in his voice to hear from me while wondering what case was presented to me that day,” said Pederzolli. “I am grateful that he hasn’t retired yet, but even then his phone will always be on.”
Fred Gingrich II, D.V.M., executive director of AABP, added, “Dr. Atkins is known by students and colleagues for his enthusiasm. He strives to ensure every student is grounded with practical knowledge and is confident in their skills. He is a most deserving candidate to join the long list of other Mentor of the Year recipients.”
Dr. Atkins is an active member of numerous veterinary organizations, including AABP, where he served as president in 1992 and received the AABP Bovine Practitioner of the Year Award in 1988. He is an Honor Roll member of AABP and the 14th recipient of the Mentor of the Year Award, which was established in 2007.
About Merck Animal Health
For more than a century, Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical company, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases. Merck Animal Health, a division of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA, is the global animal health business unit of Merck. Through its commitment to The Science of Healthier Animals®, Merck Animal Health offers veterinarians, farmers, pet owners and governments one of the widest ranges of veterinary pharmaceuticals, vaccines and health management solutions and services as well as an extensive suite of digitally connected identification, traceability and monitoring products. Merck Animal Health is dedicated to preserving and improving the health, well-being and performance of animals and the people who care for them. It invests extensively in dynamic and comprehensive R&D resources and a modern, global supply chain. Merck Animal Health is present in more than 50 countries, while its products are available in some 150 markets. For more information, visit www.merck-animal-health.com or connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter at @MerckAH.