A familiar name celebrates a milestone

"One of the key aspects of working in practice must be showing your clients that you care about their animals and, if working with production animals, their business."
Jakob Malmo

“I was born to be a veterinarian” – these are the words from longstanding member and friend of the AVA, Jakob Malmo, who this year celebrates over 50 years, and counting, of service to the Australian veterinary industry.

Jakob started practising as a veterinarian in Maffra in 1962, a town set 3 hours east of Melbourne. His father was a practising veterinarian from Norway who immigrated to Australia during the Great Depression and established a practice in the town.

During the early 1930s, veterinarians were few and far between and the nearest fellow veterinarians to his father’s practice were located either 2 hours west of Maffra or 8 hours interstate.

However, it was not long before Jakob embarked on a path that would make him one of the newest additions to the veterinary profession in the region. From a very early age Jakob travelled alongside his father, providing a helping hand with cattle work.

“I do not think I ever gave any serious thought to any other job or profession,” he said.

In 1983, Jakob completed his Fellowship in cattle medicine and has since worked almost exclusively with cattle.

Jakob was fortunate enough to work alongside Professor Douglas Blood, an Australian veterinarian renowned for his work in large animal medicine and significant contributions to the profession. Describing it as a career highlight, Jakob worked with Professor Blood to set up the University of Melbourne’s Rural Teaching Unit at Maffra.

“I estimate that we have had over 1500 students come through the unit, as well as having a number of veterinarians complete advanced courses,” he said.  

One of the most rewarding aspects of his veterinary career has been to work with these undergraduate students, assist in their training and facilitate their exposure to cattle practice.

“Working with these young undergraduates has helped sustain me through a very long career working in veterinary practice,” said Jakob.

He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (1994) – a testament to his ongoing significant contributions to the profession. But his dedication to veterinary science also extended to the AVA family. He has received numerous AVA awards for his outstanding service, including the Meritorious Service Award (1980 & 1988), Fellow Award (1992) and the Gilruth Prize (2002).

Speaking of his involvement with the AVA, Jakob said, “it gave me an opportunity to contribute to the profession that has given so much to me and my father before me. This involvement also gave me the opportunity to make friends with veterinarians from many of the different fields of veterinary science.”

Jakob continues to apply his expert knowledge and training in other areas and describes himself as a “farmer and hobby veterinarian” where he dedicates some of his time running dairy farms.

“I still very much enjoy veterinary practice, but as I am now reaching my senior years, the physical aspects make it a little more challenging.”

Now reflecting on the more than five decades he’s been in practice, Jakob said there have been enormous changes in the profession.

“At least where I work, the biggest change has been the massive increase in the importance of small animal practice to the veterinary profession. When I graduated, there were only a relatively small number of veterinarians who made their living working with small animals. This has now changed such that even in practices such as ours that were almost exclusively cattle practices, small animals and horses make up an ever-increasing percentage of the practice,” he said.

And what advice does Jakob have for the next generation of veterinarians eagerly ready to embark on their career?  

“One of the key aspects of working in practice must be showing your clients that you care about their animals and, if working with production animals, their business.”

“But probably most importantly, it is a terrific profession in which to work and we should enjoy the opportunities that present themselves to us.”

Barbara Vallejos
AVA Marketing Coordinator

This article appeared in the November 2017 issue of the Australian Veterinary Journal

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