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History of Dairy Production Medicine Certificate Program

The Dairy Production Medicine Certificate Program was established as an answer to two surveys of food animal veterinarians that were conducted 1988 and 1989.

The surveys aimed at determining their continuing education needs and priorities of the veterinarians, the first of the surveys polled U.S. and Canadian veterinarians and the second specifically targeted Pennsylvania vets. Both surveys identified the need for intensive Continuing Education courses emphasizing the non medical/surgical aspects of dairy practice. Programs with emphasis on such areas as nutrition, herd management, cow comfort, farm personnel, and herd profitability. Survey respondents indicated that they were not interested in advanced degrees or board certification but rather intensive hands-on learning experiences they could participate in with minimal time away from their veterinary practices.

Based on these expressed needs, Penn State and University of Pennsylvania personnel initiated the development of a 3 year, 10 module certificate program. During 1989, Penn State's Dr. Larry Hutchinson spent a six month sabbatical leave at the University of Guelph working with Dr. Ken Leslie and others on the development of a similar program concept called the Dairy Health Management program. This program was launched in 1990 and the first Pennsylvania Dairy Production Medicine Certificate Program began shortly after, in early 1991.

Initially, Dr. Dale Moore was hired to coordinate the DPM program while personnel from Penn State and University of Pennsylvania provided most of the instruction, along with the use of several guest instructors. Dr. Moore continued providing coordination of the program until she moved to the University of California-Davis. Since that time Dr. Dave Wolfgang has assumed coordination of the program.

The PA DPM program was the first of its type in the US. Since it's inception Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio have also established similar programs. While the program continues to evolve, the format of limited class size, use of a case-study herd, and extensive use of small-group problem-solving have proven the utility of the program design.

To date, six series of DPM Courses have been completed, with the Sixth Version completed in the Spring of '12, and the 7th in planning to begin spring of 2015. Modification and refinements have been added from program to program, making each edition current while improving upon previous programs. We have found it helpful to work with one dairy farm for the entire DPM course. Over a hundred practitioners have completed this certificate program.