From the Executive Director

An association is a reflection of its
members. Its existence depends
upon the advancement of its members' interests. An association that changes without taking these interests into account has little or no relevance for its members. As you might guess, lack of relevance will soon lead to a lack of members. An association avoids this by placing the interests of its members as the primary concern.

There is a change coming for your association. By a unanimous vote of the Board of Directors, the American Association of Swine Practitioners (AASP) has become the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV). This change has been discussed at length since early April, when the idea was conceived during the strategic planning process.

There are many reasons for changing our association's name. The word "practitioners" is often construed to include only those in private, clinical practice, which excludes many veterinarians in the swine industry. The lines between health assurance, technical services, research, and production have blurred as the pork industry continues to change. The future holds jobs that we can not even imagine now. The new name acknowledges that we are veterinarians engaged in the swine industry, without limiting us to one capacity.

Another reason for changing the association name is for clarification. The general public may be unfamiliar with the word "practitioner" as applied to veterinarians. The new name is clear and to the point in describing our members. This is also helpful for those working on advocacy and dealing with representatives of regulatory agencies, consumer groups, and elected officials. The less time you spend on describing who you are, the more time
you have to get your point across.

The bottom line is that the name change is not merely a cosmetic modification. It is part of a strategic plan aimed at improving the AASV. We will continue to advance the interests of our members. We will continue with the same mission: to increase the knowledge of swine veterinarians. This is our core value and it will not be abandoned. It affirms that we will continue to provide the educational opportunities and services needed by swine veterinarians.

The strategic planning process gave rise to other initiatives that focus on providing incremental improvements to the value received by our membership. An improved and expanded web site will get information out to members, as well as providing a portal of entry to other resources found on the Internet.

Planning is also underway for new services in the areas of career development and placement for veterinarians in all stages of their careers. Our mission statement now includes: "Mentoring students, encouraging lifelong careers as swine veterinarians." Veterinary students represent an important part of the future swine industry. We need to assume a leadership role if we are to adequately staff our practices and production systems.

Strategic planning is not a static event. It is an ongoing effort, assessing how well you are currently serving your members and anticipating their needs in the future. A critical part of the process is feedback from the membership. One of our greatest strengths is the insight that members have offered on a myriad of issues, including improvements to existing services, needed new services, and industry trends. I am hopeful that every member will feel welcome to make suggestions at any time.

Change will continue in the veterinary profession as well as the pork industry. Will AASV continue to be relevant to every swine veterinarian? The answer will depend on the ability and willingness of the Association members and leaders to adapt and change with the changing swine industry.

Is change good? The value of change is found not in the act itself, but in the tangible effects it has on the members of AASV.