About 5,000 veterinarians are members of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, but that’s still likely less than a third of all veterinarians who work with cattle in the U.S.
Dr. John M. Davidson (Texas A&M ’01) cited those figures, attributed to an AVMA member database, in stating that he wants to show more cattle veterinarians the value of the AABP. He started his one-year term as president of the organization in September.
||Dr. John M. Davidson (Courtesy of Dr. John M. Davidson)
“If they’re disconnected from organized veterinary medicine—particularly AABP and the issues that we address and the things that we offer to cattle veterinarians—then that’s a chief concern of mine,” he said.
Recruitment and retention
An AABP task force has started work on member recruitment and retention, with a focus on the former. Part of the group’s job will be figuring out how the AABP can tell nonmembers about, for example, the clinical continuing education and business training the AABP gives members and educate them about its advocacy efforts, which can affect veterinary practices across the cattle industry.
Dr. Davidson also wants AABP efforts to help veterinary students develop in bovine practice, and he expects the association will be key in recruiting the “best and brightest” students into cattle medicine.
The AABP particularly needs to identify solutions to the rising burden of educational debt and the lack of opportunities for veterinarians to work in some regions where cattle are raised, Dr. Davidson said.
The organization already is working to expand on the tools and training it provides to help those in clinical practice improve their business. The association has been developing training on subjects such as accounting principles, areas of practice opportunity, benchmarks for practice success, and communication with clients about the benefits of services that can increase practice revenue.
He expects the public will want more accountability on animal welfare and production practices in coming years and that AABP members will gain broader recognition for their expertise.
“As our membership knows, we are the original experts in cattle welfare,” he said. “Our profession needs to increase its visibility on these important issues.”
The AABP is playing a large part in that improvement, he said.
While cattle practice has changed since the AABP was founded in 1965, the association’s leaders have worked to remain true to the organization’s founding principles “to endeavor to do all things necessary to enhance the interests, to improve the public stature, and increase the knowledge of veterinarians in the field of dairy and beef cattle practice,” Dr. Davidson said.
Commitment to AABP
Dr. Davidson grew up in Floresville, a rural, southern Texas town where he spent countless hours working with his grandfather and his grandfather’s cattle. The rising number of veterinarians in the growing town impressed him with their hard work and the way they gave of themselves for their community.
He spent summer breaks from Texas A&M University learning from a veterinarian, Dr. Wayne Deason, and he envisioned having a long career in rural mixed animal practice.
Dr. Davidson worked in private practice for several years after graduation before joining the faculty at Texas A&M as an ambulatory clinician and extension veterinarian. He enjoyed teaching veterinary students, fellow veterinarians, and ranchers while continuing his work in bovine veterinary medicine. He now works as senior professional services veterinarian for Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc.
Dr. Davidson found a home in organized veterinary medicine early in his career through the Texas VMA and through a mentor, Dr. Lelve G. Gayle, who had been TVMA president in 1996. He was hooked again after attending the 2007 AABP meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, and he hasn’t missed an AABP meeting since.
“The AABP has a tremendous group of volunteer leaders working on very important issues facing animal agriculture” and the veterinarians that serve agriculture, he said.
Dr. Gayle, Dr. Davidson’s mentor from the TVMA, described Dr. Davidson as the consummate veterinarian and an outstanding person, as well as honest, well-liked, and willing to help others any way he can. He thinks the AABP could not find a better choice for president.
“He is a straight shooter, hard worker, and he can do anything and do well at it, so I would highly recommend him,” he said.