57 years into his career, an award-winning Zumbrota veterinarian is 'still living my dream'
Dr. Roger Madison of Anderson Veterinary Services in Zumbrota was recently named the Minnesota Veterinary Medicine Association's 2022 Veterinarian of the Year.
ZUMBROTA — Before Feb. 3, Dr. Roger Madison had already felt appreciated by his colleagues and clients. Back in the office at Anderson Veterinary Services in Zumbrota, he pulled out a few thank-you cards from clients that had hand-written messages inside.
"When they write something, we keep them forever," Madison said.
Appreciation for Madison's work became even more visible when, on Feb. 3, the longtime veterinarian was named the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association's 2022 Veterinarian of the Year. His veterinarian colleagues at Anderson Veterinary had nominated him.
"We could not think of a better way to thank him for his years of service than nominating him for the award of Veterinarian of the Year," they wrote to the MVMA. "He truly has been an asset to Anderson Veterinary Service and to the Zumbrota area livestock producers."
It was a total surprise to Madison, who only learned that he won when the award was announced at the MVMA's annual meeting.
"They had to pick me up off the floor," he said with a chuckle. "I mean, I'm the one that is thankful, thankful for them giving me that nomination."
It's not an award he would have nominated himself for, Madison said. But it underscores his 57-year commitment to large animal veterinary care in Minnesota.
Now 80 years old, Madison graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 1966 and got his feet wet at a clinic in Grand Meadow. A year later, Madison joined a practice in Zumbrota, and he has worked there for nearly 56 years.
Thirteen years ago, Madison retired from full-time large animal veterinary care but stayed on board at Anderson Veterinary on a part-time, on-call basis, handling emergency calls when the other veterinarians are busy.
"All these veterinarians here, they have scheduled work on the farms, big herd checks Monday and Tuesday mornings," Madison said. "So, there's nobody left to take in the sick cow calls that come in (on) those two days, so that's been me for the last 13 years."
Madison said covering veterinary emergencies for his colleagues helps them avoid the added stress, extra hours and missed opportunities that sometimes come with the job.
"It's not a big deal to me, but I think it helps them a lot," he said.
Madison's commitment to veterinary care extends beyond the clinic and the fields. For several years, he was an alternate delegate representing Minnesota for the American Veterinary Medical Association and has helped support the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Foundation's annual golf tournament fundraiser. Madison also served on the board that founded the Minnesota State Fair's CHS Miracle of Birth Center, where he volunteers every Labor Day.
Through his time as a large animal vet, Madison has seen how the industry has changed. Large animal vets are harder to come by, as new veterinary school graduates are more likely to specialize in small animal medicine.
"As far as some people think, there are enough veterinarians, it's just the location — to get them distributed properly and stuff is a problem," Madison said. "That's, again, partly why my colleagues are so busy. Pine Island used to have a large animal vet, Kenyon had one. Cannon Falls, Red Wing, Lake City. Now, all of a sudden, we're covering a lot more territory, so that makes their life a lot more hectic."
At the end of the day, Madison said his favorite part of being a veterinarian is making connections with people.
"They become more than clients. They become friends," he said.
It's why Madison hasn't stopped doing what he called his childhood dream job.
"My financial adviser says to me, 'Roger, people at your age are supposed to be spending down their retirement fund, not building it up,'" Madison said. "I've just enjoyed it. ... I'm still living my dream."