Embracing diversity in the profession and promoting horse welfare are among his goals as president
Dr. Thomas R. Lenz
Dr. Thomas R. Lenz took office as the 49th president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, Dec. 7 during the association's annual convention Orlando.
Dr. Lenz of Louisburg, Kan., a 1975 graduate of the University of Missouri, recently retired as senior director of strategic science and technology for Bayer Animal Health in Shawnee Mission, Kan. He earned board certification from the American College of Theriogenologists in 1986.
Helping to achieve the current goals of the AAEP—improving continuing education opportunities, promoting careers in equine medicine, raising the profile of the AAEP, and addressing the needs of an increasingly diverse membership—is first and foremost on Dr. Lenz's agenda as president, he said during an interview.
He said providing continuing education is the top priority of the AAEP, and to achieve that goal, the AAEP is launching a new conference called Focus, which will provide three days of presentations, discussions, and demonstrations on a single topic. The new conference will replace the AAEP Encore conference, which offered an encore presentation of popular convention scientific sessions. The 2003 Focus meeting will cover reproduction; the date and location have not yet been set.
Dr. Lenz said the new conference is exciting because it will bring together researchers and practitioners to discuss a subject in depth. The conference will include presentations on infertility, cooled and frozen semen, embryo transfer, fetal sexing, embryo handling, and endoscopy.
"It's a new concept and it will stimulate interaction between two groups who traditionally haven't communicated very much," he said.
Another project under way is branding of the AAEP and raising horse owner awareness of the association's efforts in horse health. To accomplish these goals, the AAEP has launched a Web site for owners, www.myhorsematters.com.
"We want to be the primary source of equine health information for horse owners," Dr. Lenz said.
Addressing the concerns related to the growing diversity of the association is another goal of the AAEP, one that is of particular interest to Dr. Lenz.
"AAEP is diverse and it gets more diverse every year," he said, adding there are a growing number of women in the profession and that many young practitioners have a different outlook on balancing work and home life. "The younger generation has a different approach to life, and different needs."
He explained that, while many older practitioners have a "warrior mentality" and accept 60 to 100 hours of work per week as a part of the profession, younger practitioners are interested in fewer work hours and more time for family and social activities.
Additionally, Dr. Lenz, who is active in the equine industry and serves on the American Horse Council's Animal Welfare Committee and the Research Committee of the American Quarter Horse Association, would like to see the association become more involved in equine welfare issues.
"I'm personally interested in equine welfare and our role in promoting welfare," he said, adding that it's essential for the AAEP and other organizations to participate in discussions about animal welfare, promote research to improve the life and welfare of horses, and rededicate themselves to doing what's right for the animal.
"As generations of Americans have moved off the farm, they've lost touch with animal management issues," he explained, adding that it's important for veterinarians to educate people about what's in the best interest of animals and to participate in discussions about animal welfare. "I think it's real important for the AAEP, the AVMA, and other organizations to step up to the table."