One of the most important impacts a veterinarian can make is to help guide younger people toward success in the profession. Recognizing that fact, Merck Animal Health each year sponsors the Mentor of the Year Award, presented during the annual American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) conference.

This year’s award goes to Dr. Sarel Rens van Amstel, BVSc, Dip Med Vet, M Med Vet, ABVP, ACVIM, with the University of Tennessee. Dr. van Amstel graduated from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and spent several years in practice in South Africa and on the staff at the Onderstepoort School in Pretoria. He moved to the United States in 1996 and joined the faculty at the University of Tennessee, where today he serves as a full Professor, Senior Clinician and Head of Farm Animal Medicine and Surgery in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences.

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. 

van Amstel is known as an expert in cattle lameness, and has collaborated with Dr. Jan Shearer at Iowa State University in developing the Master Hoof Care certification program. That program has benefitted thousands of cattle producers, hoof trimmers and veterinarians, and received the USDA Group Honor Award for Excellence for outstanding innovation in animal health.

“Dr. van Amstel’s achievements in veterinary medicine and his ongoing desire to help the next generation of bovine veterinarians are impressive,” says Merck Animal Health livestock and technical services manager Norman Stewart, DVM, in a Merck news release. “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.”

“Dr. van Amstel is widely recognized as a pre-eminent teacher, clinician and researcher,” says 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.”