Dr. Thomas D. Brokken was named the 52nd president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners during the group's annual convention in Seattle Dec. 3-7.
A 1969 graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Brokken most recently served as the AAEP vice president and 2005 program chair for the association's annual convention.
Since joining the AAEP in 1969, Dr. Brokken has held positions on numerous committees and task forces. He served on the board of directors from 1985-1990. He participates in the AAEP's On Call program as a veterinary spokesperson.
In addition to his role at AAEP, Dr. Brokken is a senior partner at Teigland, Franklin & Brokken, DVMs, a 12-veterinarian equine medicine and surgery practice exclusively for Thoroughbred racehorses. He began working at the practice in 1970 and has served as a senior partner for 14 years. Based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the practice also operates offices in Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania.
During a presentation at the AAEP convention, Dr. Brokken said he plans to lead the AAEP in three key initiatives in 2006: membership development, continuing education, and advocacy.
In an effort to develop membership, Dr. Brokken said the AAEP plans to identify ways to improve the association's relevance and value to the increasingly diverse needs and interest of its members.
"Our membership is changing tremendously, from an increased number of women to an increased number of (veterinarians) that want to change their lifestyle," Dr. Brokken said.
A few AAEP membership categories dubbed at-risk groups, or groups with low retention rates and satisfaction levels, are members who have joined within the past four years, female practitioners, international practitioners, and mixed practitioners who perform 25 percent or less equine work.
To help improve and retain membership, the AAEP plans to create a membership committee with representatives from the at-risk groups, continue gathering data about members and the at-risk groups, and improve tracking of membership subgroups and the demographics of event attendees. The AAEP plans to increase connectivity between members by providing online communication tools, such as message boards. The association will also develop specialty communications for subgroups, such as increasing contact with members during their first year of membership.
Improved continuing education will also play a role in membership development. The AAEP plans to adjust current offerings to address needs of the at-risk groups, and improve the AAEP Web site's usability and educational content.
Along with membership development, the AAEP plans to build a successful and diverse mix of continuing education offerings, primarily outside of the annual convention.
"I would like to continue to advance our goal of continuing education, to provide a lot of interactive question-and-answer sessions on popular subjects that would help benefit both the new and established practitioners," Dr. Brokken said.
To help expand the continuing education offerings, the AAEP will develop a template for regional meetings, continue wet labs as a stand-alone event, and expand the AAEP Web site offerings, such as downloadable audio tracks of convention presentations. The association also plans to evaluate the changes made to the continuing education program at the 2005 convention (see page 337).
Also in 2006, the AAEP hopes to strengthen its influence in public policy decision making.
"Public policy issues have increased, particularly those related to animal welfare," Dr. Brokken said. "(The AAEP's) primary approach has been, and will remain, in conjunction with AVMA and the American Horse Council; however, there is a need for AAEP to be more politically active on both a federal and state level."
Most recently, the AAEP has been actively involved in the issues that surround the care of unwanted horses in the United States. The association has spoken out about its stance against the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 503). If passed, the bill would ban the transportation and sale of horses for slaughter for human consumption and other purposes. The AAEP believes slaughter is symptomatic of a larger problem affecting the welfare of U.S. horses, and that the problem is created by issues surrounding unwanted horses.
To increase the association's advocacy, the AAEP will build a member contact network to keep current with state and federal legislative issues. The association will also educate members on legislative issues through regular updates in the association newsletter and other outlets, and encourage members to contact Congress about legislative issues.