Drs. John R. Brooks of Annapolis, Md., and John R. Scamahorn of Greencastle, Ind., were elected to the AVMA Executive Board in uncontested district elections in February.
They will officially join the board following the AVMA Annual Convention in Minneapolis this July when the six-year terms expire for District II representative Dr. Gregory S. Hammer and District VI representative Dr. Roger K. Mahr.
Before he can join the board, Dr. Brooks must first resign his position in the AVMA House of Delegates as required by the AVMA Bylaws. Dr. Scamahorn's term in the HOD expires in July.
Dr. Brooks, the deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture, was nominated to the AVMA board by the Maryland and Pennsylvania VMAs. As the new District II board member, he will represent Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
After receiving his DVM degree from the University of the Philippines in 1974, Dr. Brooks spent 30 years in private practice until his appointment to the state Department of Agriculture by Gov. Robert Ehrlich in January 2003.
Dr. Brooks has been involved with civic and not-for-profit organizations and organized veterinary medicine throughout his career. "When I graduated from veterinary school, I came out with the commitment to return something to the community and to my association. I've been able to follow that creed throughout my life," he said.
Dr. Brooks says his volunteer work has taken on a life of its own. "I've tried to never say no," he admits.
He's participated on a wide variety of boards and committees, including the Maryland State Board of Stable Inspectors and an advisory council with the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
After joining the Maryland VMA in 1974, Dr. Brooks went on to serve on the association's board for 20 years and was elected president in 1991. He was also president of the local Harford County VMA.
Dr. Brooks currently is the Maryland delegate to the AVMA House of Delegates, as well as chair of the House Advisory Committee. He also chairs the Maryland VMA's Professional Affairs and Veterinary Technician committees.
Serving among the AVMA leadership is a "daunting" task because of the broad range of professional issues within the Association, according to Dr. Brooks. Although vision is important to leading, Dr. Brooks prefers the hands-on approach.
"I get the most gratification out of being able to seize upon an issue that will directly benefit our members in their daily lives," he explained.
Members of District II have a variety of professional concerns, according to Dr. Brooks. In addition to the challenges from animal rights groups, there are questions about Internet pharmacies as they relate to the veterinarian-client-patient relationship. Moreover, veterinarians worry about the effects gender and generational differences will have on private practice.
Regardless, Dr. Brooks is eager to join the fray. "It is an honor and privilege to serve on the AVMA Executive Board, and I'm looking forward to serving members at the grassroots level," he said.
The Indiana and Wisconsin VMAs nominated Dr. Scamahorn to represent District VI, which comprises Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
For the past three decades, Dr. Scamahorn has owned and operated a mixed practice serving clients in west-central Indiana. He has been active in organized veterinary medicine, as well, from the time he graduated from Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1972.
He was the 1991-1992 president of the Indiana VMA and is a former chairman of its board. At the national level, Dr. Scamahorn has been Indiana's alternate delegate or delegate to the AVMA HOD for the past 12 years. He also sits on the AVMA/Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges Joint Committee as the HOD representative.
Dr. Scamahorn described his election to Executive Board as a continuation of a long-held desire to serve and speak on behalf of veterinarians. It was a lesson learned at an early age from his grandfather and father, who were medical doctors.
"I saw the importance of watching my dad as he worked in organized medicine—through the state association and the AMA—and it really hit home that this was important," Dr. Scamahorn said.
"Somebody needs to speak up and take care of the issues," he added, "or someone other than veterinarians will address them."
Dr. Scamahorn hopes to be an advocate for the veterinarians and veterinary students in his district, which is also home to three veterinary colleges. He prepared for his candidacy by attending the board meetings of the Illinois State and Wisconsin VMAs along with the Nine States Conference this fall.
At those meetings, many veterinarians expressed their concern with challenges to the practice of veterinary medicine, especially those emanating from legislatures and regulatory agencies. A bill recently introduced in Indiana that would license chiropractors to treat animals is just one example, according to Dr. Scamahorn, who identified the shrinking supply of food supply veterinarians, animal rights, and veterinary student debt as other concerns.
"It's critical that we defend the practice of veterinary medicine and hold up our values," Dr. Scamahorn said.