Merck Animal Health (known as MSD Animal Health outside of the United States and Canada) and the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) recently recognized Dr. Sarel Rens van Amstel, BVSc, Dip Med Vet, M Med Vet, Diplomat ABVP & ACVIM, with the Mentor of the Year Award. The award, which is given out each year at the AABP Annual Conference, recognizes an individual who has shown commitment to educating, guiding and advancing the careers of future bovine veterinarians.

“Dr. van Amstel’s achievements in veterinary medicine and his ongoing desire to help the next generation of bovine veterinarians are impressive,” said Norman Stewart, D.V.M., livestock and technical services manager for Merck Animal Health. “We applaud his commitment to the veterinary medical profession, as well as the hard work, dedication and contributions to sharing knowledge and real-world experiences with his students.”

An expert in cattle lameness, Dr. van Amstel, together with Dr. Jan Shearer of Iowa State University, established a Master Hoof Care certification program, a collaboration between the University of Tennessee and the University of Florida. Thousands of students, dairy farmers, hoof trimmers and veterinarians have benefitted from the expertise of the program designed to improve the wellbeing of dairy and beef cattle. This program received the USDA Group Honor Award for Excellence for outstanding innovation in animal health. In addition, several textbooks and training manuals have been produced as a result of the initiative, which was the nation’s first foot care training program for use by dairy employees.

“Dr. van Amstel is widely recognized as a pre-eminent teacher, clinician and researcher,” said David Anderson, DVM, MS, DACVS, professor and head of Large Animal Clinical Sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tennessee. “Dr. van Amstel has never waivered in his dedication to the advancement of teaching, service and research in bovine medicine. He is highly respected and admired by the students for the tireless hours he dedicates to their training, the many opportunities he provides for their professional advancement, and the personal interest he takes in their health.”

A graduate of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, Dr. van Amstel served several years in private practice, as well as on staff at the Onderstepoort School of Veterinary in Pretoria, before coming to the United States in 1996. In the United States, he was appointed Associate Professor and eventually full Professor and Senior Clinician in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at the University of Tennessee where he is the Head of Farm Animal Medicine and Surgery.

Dr. van Amstel has inspired generations of veterinary students on two continents for nearly 50 years. As a result of his dedication to his students’ training and the many opportunities he provides for their professional advancement, he has been previously recognized with several awards for teaching excellence. 

Dr. van Amstel is an active member of numerous veterinary organizations, including AABP, and is the tenth recipient of the Mentor of the Year Award, which was established in 2007.