WCVM veterinarian Dr. Fritz Schumann (centre) during a field service visit at Dundurn's community pasture. Photo: Christina Weese.
WCVM veterinarian Dr. Fritz Schumann (centre) during a field service visit at Dundurn's community pasture. Photo: Christina Weese.

One very fine bovine vet

A well-known veterinarian whose passion for his work has inspired generations of veterinary students is the 2017 Boehringer Ingelheim WCABP Veterinarian of the Year.

Dr. Fritz Schumann, a field service veterinarian with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine's Veterinary Medical Centre, received the award during the Western Canadian Association of Bovine Practitioners' annual conference in January.

Drs. Brittany Wiese and Kamal Gabadage nominated Schumann for the award, and many other veterinarians across Western Canada contributed letters of support.

"Fritz is a humble, humourful and unique individual who is absolutely dedicated to his profession and loves teaching veterinary students," wrote Wiese in the nomination letter.

She added that Schumann is someone who keeps in touch with his students after graduation and has made himself available to any students or graduates who need advice about bovine cases – or about life.

As the news spread, dozens of former and current WCVM students left messages of congratulations on the veterinary college's Facebook page. A fitting touch was that fourth-year WCVM student Katrina Barth, one of Schumann's recent students, won the WCABP-Merck Animal Health Student Case Presentation Award.

As a long-time member of the VMC Field Service, Schumann is a familiar figure to farmers and ranchers in Western Canada. His main interests are herd medicine and food animal production.

Schumann's love for animals developed while he was growing up on his family's farm in Namibia, Africa. He knew that he wanted to become a veterinarian from the time that he was a young boy.

After graduating from high school and spending some time in the military, Schumann completed a Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree at the University of Pretoria's Ondersteport Veterinary Institute in 1986.

Schumann worked as a state veterinarian for the Namibian government for a year before moving to Saskatoon, Sask.atchewan, to pursue graduate studies at the WCVM. After completing his Master of Veterinary Science degree in 1990, Schumann joined the veterinary college's field service. Over the years he has become a well-known clinician and teacher who is respected by his clients, colleagues and students.

Schumann's enthusiasm for veterinary medicine and for teaching has led to his receiving the WCVM's Merial Award of Excellence in Clinical Teaching five times.

As a volunteer in the WCVM Undergraduate Mentorship Program, Schumann has participated in mentorship training workshops, and he makes himself available to any students who are interested in working with him.

Schumann is also a dedicated father who has travelled throughout Western Canada to watch his sons Jörn and Marco compete at speed skating meets. He has spent countless hours volunteering for the Saskatoon Lions Speed Skating Club, and in 2013 he was nominated for the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance Prestige Award.

In addition to cheering on their sons, Schumann and his wife Andrea enjoy many activities together, including mountain biking and cross-country skiing.

Over the years as Schumann has shared his expertise and his life philosophies with countless veterinary students, his wit and his wisdom have had a significant impact on the cattle industry.

"You do not have to travel very far to find a bovine vet who has been taught and mentored by Fritz Schumann," wrote Wiese. "His musings and lessons in veterinary medicine are a common thread linking vets of all ages in veterinary practices across Canada."

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