The 2015 AASV Annual Meeting was held in Orlando, Florida, February 28th to March 3rd. Once again this annual meeting was a valuable experience for all who attended. No doubt all veterinarians were able to take home good scientific knowledge as well as practical information to use when returning to their professional lives. For me, this annual meeting was a unique experience. As chairman of the program committee, instead of being in the audience looking on, I was on the inside looking out. I was very pleased. From the podium, I could see the record crowd consisting of seasoned veteran practitioners, many international veterinarians, young up-and-coming veterinarians, and once again, many, many students.
The experience of our association staff (Tom, Sue, Harry, and Dave), along with their assistants, made the event flow smoothly and seamlessly. The hotel venue was an excellent choice, and the hotel staff was accessible and accommodating. Orlando is a great place for a meeting.
I want to thank our speakers for the quality of their presentations, especially Dr Greg Stevenson for the Howard Dunne lecture and Dr Scanlon Daniels for the Alex Hogg lecture. Both great messages addressed our theme “Beyond Our Oath: Integrity, Intensity, Professionalism.” I have reviewed both, and found more gems of knowledge that I will share with you in this letter. I was impressed by how well all sessions drew a crowd and how evenly the attendance was spread among concurrent sessions. All provided excellent technical information. The quality of the workshops on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning offered some difficult choices for many of us.
I also want to thank our program committee for volunteering their time and effort to put together our program. Many of them were chairpersons of a session. They were Matt Anderson, Butch Baker, Andrew Bents, Mike Brumm, George Charbonneau, Mitch Christensen, Scanlon Daniels, Monte Fuhrman, Jeff Harker, Megan Inskeep, Karen Lehe, Michelle Michalak, Chris Rademacher, Alex Ramirez, Craig Rowles, Adam Schelkopf, Michelle Sprague, Scott Stehlik, Jennifer Stevens, Matt Turner, John Waddell, Todd Williams, and Nate Winkelman. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your collective time and expertise compiling a great program!
Some highlights from our two keynote lectures: Greg Stevenson in his Howard Dunne lecture focused on integrity as a virtue in our lives and how essentially important it is to practice integrity in our veterinary profession. He cited the importance of integrity with respect to antibiotic usage, as well as quality of scientific study. Dr Stevenson emphasized the importance of healthy, constructive criticism of scientific studies as a civilized process that should not be viewed as “critical” toward an individual or entity. He said “Quality of science includes both civility and criticism.” Greg is a great role model for this and has one of the best scientific minds in our profession. He also stressed the importance of identifying and disclosing conflicts of interest within our profession. One of his key observations: “The reduction in the number of decision makers combined with increased numbers of pigs and amounts of money involved in single decisions has changed the competitive landscape and put increased pressure on the professional integrity of swine veterinarians in their many roles.” Greg and I agree. I believe we as veterinarians can withstand the pressures we face. As we maintain our integrity and professionalism, we will raise the value of swine veterinarians to the pork industry and cultivate the respect of consumers of pork.
Scanlon Daniels offered some real “gems” of advice in his Alex Hogg lecture “Influence and Advocacy: Opportunities for Swine Veterinarians.” Dr Daniels is a private-practice veterinarian respected and admired by many of his colleagues. He has experience working for corporate hog production and has applied his experience to private practice. He emphasized the value of developing and maintaining relationships with the people you seek to influence. He said “For me it became clear that I had more influence with farms where I had a stronger relationship with the people.” Influencing farms toward the implementation of new technology, Dr Daniels said “If science is the engine driving change, then relationships are where the rubber meets the road.” Does AASV have a role in advocacy? He believes AASV as an organization “needs to assertively and proactively address societal concerns” for us to have a strong role of influence. To be taken seriously we must “continue our strengths and engage society.” The new emphasis should be on “engagement.” Scanlon is still a young veterinarian with wisdom beyond his years. I expect he will have long-lasting influence within AASV.
There were numerous other great technical presentations that I will review in my next letter. Reference to porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) was common throughout many of them: PEDV could have been the theme for the meeting. Fortunately, PEDV virus has been uncommon this winter, much to the relief of producers and veterinarians. Here I will close by offering credit to AASV swine veterinarians in the field and in our laboratories for putting science into practice so quickly through integrity, intensity, and professionalism.
Ron Brodersen, DVM AASV President