The Veterinarian of the Year / Veterinary Deed of the Year

Since 2001, the Finnish Veterinary Association has selected either the Vet of the Year or the Veterinary Deed of the Year as a part of celebrating the World Veterinary Day in the end of April.

The goal is to promote knowledge of the veterinary work among the public and to strengthen the unity of the profession. 

Year 2022

The Veterinary Deed of the Year 2022 award went to the veterinary peer support line EPE Eläinlääkäri Puhuu Eläinlääkärille = Vet talks to a Vet.
Shortage of veterinarians, excessive availability for work, being targeted and harassed online, and high personal standards are some of the challenges involved in veterinary work. Set up by volunteer veterinarians, the peer support line helps relieve stress and offers accessible support by industry professionals.

The idea came from a group of veterinarians, who have been ambitiously and cleverly promoting the implementation of peer support. Now there are 13 volunteers involved, and the helpline is available four nights a week. The helpline workers have undergone and continue to undergo training organised by a mental health organisation. All conversations are confidential. Speaking on behalf of all volunteers, veterinarians Anna Pasanen and Anna Kurtén said that the idea came about in spring 2021 and that implementation was surprisingly quick. The Finnish Veterinary Association gives the project financial and moral support, but is not responsible for its operations. (5th May 2022)

Year 2021

In 2021, Suvi and Teppo Heinola are the Veterinarians of the Year. They are veterinarian entrepreneurs (AlmaVet), social media influencers, animal welfare promoters, and strong believers in the joint development of the profession. Suvi and Teppo Heinola employ 12 people and promote animal welfare alongside their work as veterinarians. They educate the public on animal welfare issues on social media and contribute to the development of professionals’ expertise by training to colleagues and sharing information. 

The Heinolas were involved in establishing the AlmaHelp organisation, which has carried out sterilisation campaigns in Romania; set up a non-profit blood bank for dogs; and developed a dog first aid course for the public, among other things.

The One Health approach can be seen in the Heinolas’ work, such as in minimising the use of antibiotics in surgery and in providing pet owners with advice on how to care for their pets at home. Suvi specialises in problems associated with short-nosed dogs; each year, she performs dozens of surgeries to treat brachycephalic dogs who experience breathing problems.

The company was founded in 2016 and had a turnover of EUR 1.4 million last year. It recently treated its 10,000th patient. (11th May 2021)

Year 2020

The Veterinarian of the Year 2020 is Ruska Rimhanen-Finne. She is a disease detective, a veterinary epidemiologist who was awarded for her long-term work in promoting food and water safety and the prevention of pathogens common to animals and humans.

Ruska Rimhanen-Finne works at the Finnish institute for health and welfare (THL). Rimhanen-Finne participates in the global 24/7 health threat surveillance system of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and acts as one of the contact people in the network of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on food and water-borne pathogens and zoonoses. She assists veterinarians and other professionals investigating local, regional, and national epidemics, as she always has the latest information on epidemics. Rimhanen-Finne has been a popular lecturer who also develops disease research by training his colleagues. Another appreciated feature is her enthusiasm for her own field and appreciation of the skills of others. She is an excellent colleague.(13th May 2020).

Year 2019

The Veterinarian of the Year 2019 is Teija Korhonen, an influential member of her profession and a European expert in epidemics. Teija Korhonen works as an expert in outbreak response at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in Solna, in Stockholm County in Sweden. Her work is related to diseases transmitted by food and water as well as zoonoses, focusing especially on monitoring cases of Legionnaires’ disease related to tourism and compiling statistics on them. She also has field experience in combating Ebola. Teija Korhonen is an active and constructive person with influence both within the veterinarian community and outside it; she disseminates measured information to colleagues effectively. The creation of the Oikeus kuonoon (Right to a Snout) campaign concerning the excessive breeding of dogs is largely due to the Veterinarian of the Year. (15th May 2019)
Here you can read an article about Teija Korhonen in english, this was first published in finnish in Finnish Veterinary Journal 16th May. 

Year 2018

In 2018 DVM Reijo Junni, Specialist in Bovine Health Care and Production Animal Medicine and Health Care, Instructor, has been named the 2018 Veterinarian of the Year. Reijo Junnis long-term dedication to the development of bovine hoof care and foot health alongside training of veterinarians, agricultural producers and hoof care specialists, has resulted in an apt nickname: occupational health care veterinarian for cows. Health care veterinarian Junni is an internationally networked expert and a professional who conveys information reciprocally.

In Finland, as most households consume dairy products, dairy cattle hooves and their welfare are an integral part of the daily life. Reijo Junni was a research group member in a University of Helsinki research project (2012-2015) studying infectious hoof diseases in large dairy cattle free-range areas. The project produced a colour atlas for educational purposes, titled ‘Infectious Hoof Diseases in Finland 2015’ in Finnish, as well as a Nordic, English and Russian version. (16th May 2018)

Year 2017

In 2017  Merja Rantala, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Specialist in Veterinary Infectious Diseases, an expert in antibiotic resistance and an accomplished teacher, has been named the 2017 Veterinarian of the Year.  Merja Rantala leads the way in the controlled use of antibiotics when treating companion animals. She is a distinguished expert who studies the effectiveness of various treatments and the risk factors and spread of antibiotic resistance. She is the head of the clinical microbiology laboratory at the University of Helsinki and trains veterinarians in the moderate use of antibiotics, introduces new technology and advocates long-term research. Ways of achieving the controlled use of antibiotics include good diagnostic practices, responsible use of antimicrobials, the implementation of good hygiene practices and the prevention of infections. The Veterinarian of the Year also has a strong international network.  (16th May 2017)

Year 2016

In 2016 Kristiina Törmä, leading veterinary inspector, chairman of the Association of veterinary inspectors, and union steward, has been named the 2016 Veterinarian of the Year. With her extensive expertise Kristiina Törmä has worked to improve meat inspection practices and slaughterhouse control. Veterinary inspectors play a vital role in the process of turning animals into food. In her work as a public official, Törmä ensures that slaughterhouses spare animals avoidable pain, suffering and distress and that the produced meat is safe and suitable for consumption. Törmä works in a slaughterhouse for poultry. (11th May 2016)

Year 2015

In 2015 Vice-Dean for undergraduate education at the Faculty for Veterinary Medicine at the University of Helsinki, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Docent Mirja Ruohoniemi has been named the 2015 veterinarian of the year. First Mirja Ruohoniemi built a long and distinguished career concerning diagnostic imaging of horses. Since then she has delved into university pedagogy and has reorganized and clarified the veterinary studies in a unique way. She has promoted the defining of the core content and learning outcomes throughout the curriculum. She also actively participates in the quality control of veterinary studies on an international level. (28th May 2015)

Year 2014

In 2014 the Veterinarian of the Year is Marja Nuorgam. She is a municipal veterinarian in Utsjoki and Inari, the very northern tip of Finland. Marja Nuorgam is known for her important and long-standing work for reindeer health and as a hard-working practitioner and a trusted partner of owners of production as well as companion animals. She has worked over 20 years in Finnish Lapland. Her expertise includes the veterinary law and the border formalities of the polar region. Marja Nuorgam is a highly valued member of the profession for her decision-making and risk management skills. (13th May 2014)

Year 2013

In 2013 the Veterinarian of the Year is Riitta Maijala. PhD, Docent. Dr Riita Maijala works as the Director of Science Policy Division at the Department for Higher Education and Science Policy, Ministry of Education and Culture. Her expertise covers areas such as veterinary risk assessment, food safety and research. She has held international and domestic managerial posts for almost 20 years. They include positions in the European Food Safety Authority EFSA and the National Veterinary and Food Research Institute, EELA, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira and presently in the Ministry of Education and Culture. (14th May 2013)

Year 2012

In 2012 the Finnish Veterinary Association nominated Ava Sovijärvi as the Veterinarian of the Year. She was rewarded as an expert of military environmental health. Dr Ava Sovijärvi is the first woman to serve in the Finnish Defense Force as a Veterinary Officer, a position she has held longer than any other female colleague. She is also the first Finnish female veterinarian to participate in international Crisis Management Operations. (8th May 2012)

Year 2011

In 2011 The Finnish Veterinary Association nominated Jouni Niemi as the Veterinarian of the Year for his innovative and highly appreciated work as a veterinary entrepreneur. Dr Jouni Niemi is a multitalented veterinarian, entrepreneur, training organiser, champion of bovine foot care and importer and promoter of veterinary equipment.  (9th May 2011)

Year 2010

In 2010 The Finnish Veterinary Association has nominated the work performed by the Association for Animal Disease Prevention (ETT) as the Veterinary Deed of the Year for 2010. The prize is granted for 15 years of successful work for maintaining the favourable animal disease situation in Finland. ETT was founded in 1994, shortly before Finland faced the challenges of joining the EU.

In 2009 Dr Outi Lepistö, PhD, has been nominated the Veterinarian of Year for 2009. Dr Lepistö works as Chief of Environmental Health. The award is given for her outstanding work for the quality and publicity of environmental health, as well as the leadership and management she has displayed within the field.

In 2008 Dr Aila Rauatmaa and Dr Tuija Saari were nominated as veterinarians of the year for 2008 for their work for animal welfare at the municipal level in Kainuu and in Helsinki.

In 2007 Professor Marjatta Snellman of the Helsinki University faculty of Veterinary medicine was nominated for her longstanding work for the development of veterinary diagnostic imagining 

In 2006 Professor Hannu Korkeala was nominated as the veterinarian of the year for his work at the Helsinki University Faculty of Food and Environmental Hygiene 

In 2005 Dr Aimo Välimäki, municipal veterinary practitioner, was nominated.medicine and defending health aspects in breeding of dogs.

In 2004 Dr Jukka Houttu, a well-known equine specialist, was nominated. 

In 2003 a group of researchers of the University of Helsinki were nominated for their work for pig welfare. The group consisted of Hannu Saloniemi PhD, Olli Peltoniemi PhD, Mari Heinonen Phd and Anssi Tast PhD. 

In 2002 Dr Riitta Aho PhD was awarded for her work for the profession in changing times. 

In 2001 Dr Veikko Tuovinen PhD was nominated for his work for advancing bovine health.