AABP president promotes responsiveness, collaboration, online CE

Organization to continue addressing issues of animal welfare, student recruitment
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Bovine practitioners
Dr. Richard L. Wallace, president of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners and a professor at the University of Illinois, poses for a snapshot with veterinary students on the university's dairy farm.

Dr. Richard L. Wallace wants the American Association of Bovine Practitioners to be faster, stronger, smarter—faster at addressing the issues of the day, stronger in maintaining ties with producer groups, smarter by offering online continuing education.

The incoming AABP president, a dairy extension veterinarian at the University of Illinois and an associate professor in the veterinary college, said he builds on the efforts of many other members in these endeavors.

Dr. Wallace and the other AABP officers, along with leaders of the AVMA and producer groups, also continue to address perennial issues in bovine practice such as animal welfare and student recruitment.

President's perspective

Dr. Wallace developed his interest in dairy practice during veterinary college rather than on a family farm.

"My grandfather was the last farmer in my family," he said. "I tell people I have agriculture in my blood, not in my background."

Growing up near Columbus, Ohio, he decided he wanted to be a veterinarian. Then, during veterinary college, he spent time riding with dairy practitioners in Vermont.

"I really loved the lifestyle, liked working with cattle," Dr. Wallace said. "I guess it goes to show you don't have to come from a farm to work with cattle."

He opened a mixed animal practice in Ohio after graduating from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1985. Later, he joined a large dairy practice in Wisconsin. Now he has multiple duties at the University of Illinois, such as overseeing the university's dairy farm.

Dr. Wallace became more active in the AABP in the early 1990s partly because of his affinity for technology. A member of the AABP Information Management Committee recruited him, and he was chair of the committee for six years. He has served informally as audiovisual coordinator for the annual conference.

Additionally, Dr. Wallace was a member of the AABP Lameness Committee for six years before his election to become president. He is also a past president of the American Association of Extension Veterinarians.

As AABP president-elect, Dr. Wallace was chairman of the program committee for the 2008 conference. The committee focused on the welfare of dairy and beef cattle as the subject of the general sessions.

The timing was appropriate because the conference happened to take place not long after the release of a video of abusive cattle handling at a California slaughterhouse. Dr. Wallace said the speakers at the AABP conference discussed management practices that can improve animal well-being and remain feasible for production purposes.

Dr. Wallace plans to focus his presidency on positioning the AABP to respond rapidly to the issues of the day, strengthening ties with producer groups, and helping launch online CE.

Drs. Wallace and Bolton
Dr. Richard L. Wallace (left) succeeded Dr. Michael Bolton as AABP president.

The Food and Drug Administration's prohibition on extralabel use of cephalosporins was an issue that arose just before the AABP conference, and members spent part of the time together hearing from an FDA official about the ban and discussing a response in open committee meetings. The AABP board of directors meets electronically during the year, too, so the board can address other issues as they arise.

The AABP also works with producer groups such as the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and National Milk Producers Federation during the year, Dr. Wallace said, but he would like to arrange meetings between the AABP and producer groups. Another goal is to work more closely with veterinarians from other countries.

Online CE, student recruitment

Dr. Wallace said online CE, which the AABP has been exploring for some time, should move forward quickly now. He foresees a range of possibilities for online CE, from providing resources for sole practitioners with unusual cases to serving as a teaching tool for clients.

"There are so many opportunities for this online education to offer more than just the CE credits that states require for you to keep your licensure," Dr. Wallace said.

Along with Dr. Wallace's priorities for his term as president, an ongoing concern of the AABP is recruiting students into bovine practice.

"We need to maintain veterinary coverage of the country," Dr. Wallace noted. "The organization is really trying to do as much as we can to get students involved."

The AABP continues to offer scholarships and grants for travel to externships. The annual conference features a number of student sessions.

This year, for the first time, the conference also extended to a job fair. The fair gave students a chance to engage in one-on-one conversations with mixed practice and food animal veterinarians about externships and employment.

Working together

Dr. Larry R. Corry, AVMA president-elect, spoke at the AABP conference during the annual business meeting and awards luncheon. Though he's not a bovine practitioner, Dr. Corry recalled milking cows for a neighbor back in high school. He went on to update AABP members about AVMA activities.

Also during the business meeting, Dr. Elizabeth Parker described her advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C., as chief veterinarian for the NCBA. She said the cattle industry needs to tell the world about the humane handling programs that producers started years ago. At the same time, producers should see where they can improve.

Dr. Parker said other issues of concern to the cattle industry are climate change, food safety, the growing demand for protein, restrictions on antimicrobials, international standards, and research funding.

"We all need to work together as veterinarians and producers," she said. "Collectively, we are the solution."

Dr. Parker also spoke with the AABP board, which holds face-to-face meetings during the conference and installs new officers.

Joining Dr. Wallace as AABP officers are Drs. Roger L. Saltman, Cazenovia, N.Y., president-elect; Christine B. Navarre, Baton Rouge, La., vice president; and Michael Bolton, Belding, Mich., immediate past president.