Dr. Jim McMillan

As a veterinary student, Dr. Jim McMillan was told large-animal vets had no future. He ignored them, and today boasts a successful career that spans more than three decades.

McMillan, 58, attributes those early warnings to the economic farm crisis of the 1980s.

In spring 1993, his first veterinarian job was at a mostly cow-calf practice in southwest Iowa. But after about a year and a half, McMillan wanted more diversification, and particularly missed treating pigs. At that time, common swine ailments included transmissible gastroenteritis, bloody scours, pseudorabies, and mystery swine disease (now known as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, or PRRS).

As he looked to move, he recalled meeting Dr. Don Dutler and Dr. Don Bowden while attending a national swine meeting his senior year of veterinary school. The two had told him about the Winthrop Veterinary Clinic, a mostly large-animal practice that specializes in dairy, beef, equine, and swine. McMillan reached out, they hired him in 1994, and he never left.

Being on farms daily gives McMillan a front-row seat promoting animal welfare and food safety, and helping producers succeed and achieve their goals is rewarding, McMillan says. His advocacy for the industry was recently recognized by the Buchanan County Pork Producers, who named him the 2022 Buchanan County Master Pork Partner — Veterinarian of the Year.

McMillan was raised on a diversified livestock and grain century farm north of Aurora. He earned an animal science degree from Iowa State University in Ames in 1987, then briefly worked in the feed industry before his acceptance into the Iowa State College of Veterinary Medicine in fall 1989. He graduated with his doctorate in 1993.

Beyond his workday, McMillan volunteers at county fairs inspecting animals as they arrive. As a member of the Buchanan County Pork Producers, he’s worked several shifts at the group’s food stand at the county fair. In addition, he’s volunteered at an elementary school, helping students dissect pig hearts, as well as mentors aspiring veterinarians to encourage them to pursue a career in food animal medicine. He currently serves on a local bank board.

McMillan and his wife, Anne, live in Independence and have two grown children, Stephanie, 26, and Matthew, 24.