Key Learnings and Applying the Results

Following a presentation of the research results to the CVM Team and many of their colleagues in December, 2011, the Team used the findings to address specific challenges identified in the research and to develop focused communications strategies.

When asked about the key learnings for the CVM Team, project lead Martine Hartogensis commented that “the project really opened our eyes to things we were missing and things we could be more clear on in our communications. For example, we had to reframe our thinking on residues and residue avoidance. And we had to develop specific communications strategies that met the needs of our various stakeholders on the issues and challenges identified. Using the research results to open the dialogue is a new approach for CVM and it is really having a significant impact.”

From a risk management perspective, the CVM Team reached out to the organizations responsible for the marketing and sales of the various penicillin drugs used by dairy farmers and shared their concerns about the adequacy of the labels. Some of these drugs have been in use since the 1950s. Many are sold over the counter. Based on the research results, the Team asked these organizations to meet to discuss approaches for working collaboratively to address the concerns.

A significant change for CVM was the strategy for conducting outreach to drug sponsors. The Team decided to use a dialogue approach rather than “the traditional us telling them what we want them to do,” noted Hartogensis. The Team reached out to the sponsors in small group meetings or by phone to ask for their help, voluntarily. They framed the challenge of residual pharmaceuticals in dairy cows as a public health issue. To date, Hartogensis reports that sponsors have been very positive and supportive of achieving better public health outcomes through more and better communication about the proper use of these fundamental drugs. “They clearly saw the need and are willing to work with us on how to better communicate with users. And they appreciated this new, more collaborative approach.”

The CVM Team has also changed its strategy for working with veterinarians, reaching out to them as partners. Both formal and informal communications channels have been used to share the results of the research and the key learnings and ask veterinarians to support CVM’s efforts in improving public health outcomes through more effective outreach and communications with producers. Hartogensis commented: “We’ve emphasized one of our key learnings—that producers really want to do the right thing, but they need the right tools. We’re asking vets to help by partnering with producers and provide them with better communications aligned to their needs and at a level they can understand.” To date, the response has been very positive. Hartogensis believes this is largely due to the CVM’s new approach of outreach and partnership, underscored by sharing the critical insight revealed by the research with vets who are a primary point of contact with producers and highly trusted.

The CVM Team will continue to share research results throughout CVM and with various stakeholder groups through presentations, meetings, and peer-reviewed papers. One group, CVM and external veterinarians working with swine producers, is using the results to frame the dialogue on how the key stakeholders can work together to reduce residual drugs in swine.

Summing up the key learnings from applying the Mental Modeling approach to the challenge of residual drugs in dairy cows intended for the food stream, Hartogensis said: “We all learned a lot from this work. Based on the final report, we are willing to give producers the benefit of the doubt, even when they have had violations in the past, as long as they take the necessary steps to be in compliance. We are all working on the same challenges, but from different perspectives. We need to think about the overall system and what needs to be done at every step in the chain of custody to achieve the public health outcomes we all desire.”


Dickrell, J. (2010). Dairy to blame for beef drug residues. Retrieved January 11, 2016, from http://

Koeman, J., Goldsmith, T., & Eustice, R. (2010). Now more than ever: Check records and talk to your veterinarian before you ship the cow. Retrieved January 11, 2016, from and-talk-to-your-veterinarian-before-you-ship-the-cow.

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