AASV president wants members and students on the farm

Alliances and research also continue as priorities
Published on April 15, 2008
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Dr. Kerry Keffaber
Dr. Kerry Keffaber
AASV officers
AASV officers: Drs. Paul Ruen, Fairmont, Minn., vice president; Rodney Baker,
Ames, Iowa, president-elect; Kerry Keffaber, president; and Daryl Olsen,
immediate past president

Dr. Kerry Keffaber's life and livelihood have always included working with pigs.

As president of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, he hopes to help swine veterinarians and veterinary students spend more time on the farm and be the leaders in caring for pigs. He also wants to strengthen the AASV by building on the foundation of his predecessors.

"The AASV has done so much for me and my career, so I wanted to give a little back as we move on to challenges in the future," Dr. Keffaber said.  

On the farm  

Dr. Keffaber's upbringing up on a farm with pigs helped set him on the path to a veterinary career.

He earned his veterinary degree from Purdue University in 1981. Then he went into mixed animal practice in northern Indiana, but he spent most of his time with swine. He later started a swine-only practice, which he operated for 14 years, because he liked working with pigs.

"They're neat animals," Dr. Keffaber said. "They're responsive and curious."

Five years ago, Dr. Keffaber left private practice to take a position as a field technical consultant with Elanco Animal Health. In January, he became manager of Elanco's swine technical group.

Throughout his career, starting as a veterinary student, Dr. Keffaber has participated in the AASV.

"The AASV has been my primary source of shared learning—either directly through the educational meetings and materials or through the other members who have served as my mentors and resources through the years," he said.

Dr. Keffaber served on AASV committees and then on the board before taking on the presidency. He plans to spend the year promoting member services and participation, deepening alliances with organizations such as the AVMA and American Association of Bovine Practitioners, and examining ways to meet the demand for veterinary services.

Recruitment of veterinary students into food animal medicine remains a concern. Fewer veterinary students have a farm background, Dr. Keffaber said, so the challenge is to expose students to that setting and show them the likeability of pigs.

Several years ago, the AASV began sending speakers and mentors to the veterinary colleges. The AASV helps sponsor student travel to the annual meeting, scholarships, and internships with swine veterinarians.

As president, Dr. Keffaber also hopes to examine ways to increase the amount of time that swine veterinarians spend directly caring for the health and welfare of pigs, perhaps by removing barriers in bookkeeping or providing other tools to process data.  

Business and board meetings

Joining Dr. Keffaber as AASV officers are Drs. Rodney Baker, Ames, Iowa, president-elect; Paul Ruen, Fairmont, Minn., vice president; and Daryl Olsen, Audubon, Iowa, immediate past president

Dr. Gregory S. Hammer, AVMA president, spoke during the annual AASV business breakfast.

"I've noticed this is a very close fraternity and a very good group," he said.

Dr. Hammer complimented the AASV on its work with students. He urged swine veterinarians to write to Congress in support of the Veterinary Public Health Workforce Expansion Act, which would help expand the capacity of veterinary colleges.

The AASV board convened following the annual meeting. Among other actions, the board approved a position statement encouraging the Department of Agriculture and Congress to increase federal funding for swine research.

At the fall board meeting, one of the actions had been to approve open access to the Journal of Swine Health and Production on the AASV Web site at www.aasv.org.