Leading AABP during change

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Dr. Grooms
Dr. Daniel L. Grooms

Dr. Daniel L. Grooms said the American Association of Bovine Practitioners is working to help veterinarians and veterinary students through a period of tremendous change and challenges.

“We’ve got a decreasing number of cattle owners, we’ve got larger herds, and we’ve got people that are doing some of the things that we historically used to do as veterinarians,” he said. “I’m not saying whether that’s right or wrong, but I’m thinking: With these challenges, we have to identify other opportunities to remain relevant to our clients and to society in general.”

Dr. Grooms, who started his one-year term as AABP president during the association’s annual meeting in September, said the organization will continue developing recommended practices in subjects ranging from castration to establishing a veterinarian-client-patient relationship, guidance he wants to ensure is useful in daily veterinary practice. And the AABP is developing alternative practice models that could help veterinarians take advantage of changes in livestock industries.

He also said the AABP needs to maintain leadership in ensuring cattle health and well-being.

Supporting future members

The AABP also is trying to help relieve veterinary students’ debt through scholarships as well as offer guidance on debt management and career development, he said.

As a professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Grooms said he understands why tuition prices are rising, as his university has lost substantial state funding. Universities can counter such losses by raising tuition, making employees increase research grant income, or laying off employees or cutting other costs.

In addition, graduates will need to figure out how to make a living serving a smaller number of larger cattle-owning businesses. He cited the AVMA’s 2013 U.S. Veterinary Workforce Study results in saying that the nation has enough veterinarians, despite some underserved areas.

Those areas are underserved, he said, because veterinarians who live there have difficulty making a living and repaying education costs. But he said the Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program and initiatives from the AABP Veterinary Practice Sustainability Committee are helping address the problem.

In May 2011, the AABP published a report that indicated the U.S. did not have a shortage of veterinarians able to provide private food animal practice services in rural areas but that likely they were unable to sustain a practice in the underserved areas.

Inspired by cattle veterinarians

The son of a schoolteacher and a nurse, Dr. Grooms grew up on a central Ohio farm that had 20 beef cows. He knew he wanted to become a veterinarian when he was a junior in high school as he watched Dr. Bill Taylor try to save the life of his bloated show steer.

“It turns out the animal did not live, but I was just so impressed by the dedication and the work ethic that this veterinarian showed in trying to save that animal,” he said.

After Dr. Grooms earned his DVM degree at The Ohio State University in 1989, he returned to his home town of Mount Gilead and worked for Dr. Taylor. After five years in the mixed animal practice, Dr. Grooms returned to school and earned a doctorate in veterinary preventive medicine at The Ohio State University, then began working at Michigan State University.

Dr. Grooms had joined the AABP when an adviser at Ohio State encouraged him to attend AABP meetings. He found common interests with members and benefited from their knowledge. He hopes veterinarians and students continue finding the same value he did when he joined.

“I think we do a great job of helping educate those veterinarians and provide information and services that can help them keep moving forward in finding new opportunities in challenging times,” he said.