The nuts and bolts of a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship

A veterinarian needs to know your operation and you need to agree to his or her recommendations

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The requirement for a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship for obtaining a prescription for an antimicrobial isn’t just a Canadian thing.

Dr. Mike Jelinski.
photo: Supplied

“It’s much bigger than us, it’s a global initiative,” said Dr. Mike Jelinski, a partner in Veterinary Agri-Health Services in Airdrie.

This whole initiative of tightening up on antibiotics came down from Health Canada because it is a signatory to the World Health Organization. The UN agency launched the initiative in 2016 to reduce the use of antibiotics in both agriculture and human medicine.

So what exactly does a VCPR involve?

There are four conditions that must be met.

The first is that the vet has assumed responsibility for the health of the animals on a livestock operation. Typically, Jelinski said, that begins with a producer coming to him and saying, “I’m interested in working with you.”

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Once a vet agrees to do that, he or she must then meet the second condition: Having an understanding of what is going on at that particular operation.

“It’s not just enough for you to say, ‘Will you do my work?’ I have to also be familiar with the animal and know what the producer is doing,” said Jelinski.

The specifics depend on the operation — a feedlot, cow-calf ranch, and hobby farm are, of course, all different. But it’s the specifics of individual operations that “is going to drive the relationship and how we interact,” he said.

The third condition is that the producer has to be in agreement with the veterinarian’s recommendations. If the producer doesn’t accept or follow those recommendations, that’s not a VCPR.

“We hope we bring enough to the table that the producer sees the value in working closely with his or her veterinarian,” Jelinski said.

The fourth condition is the veterinarian is available or has arranged a followup evaluation, especially in the event of an adverse reaction to treatment or if the treatment doesn’t work.

“If we prescribe or dispense to treat an animal we have to be available in the event of a treatment failure or being available for followup on treatment regimes — that’s part of our responsibility,” said Jelinski.

Under VCPR rules, vets are also audited in regards to the medical records they keep, the prescriptions they write, and the dispensing process.

About the author


Jill Burkhardt

Jill Burkhardt, her husband, Kelly, and their two children, own and operate a mixed farm near Gwynne, Alberta. Originally hailing from Montana, she has a degree in Range Management from Montana State University. Jill’s agricultural passions are cattle and range management but she enjoys writing and learning more about all aspects of farming.



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