It’s no surprise that students in almost any industry are the future members and leaders of organizations, and the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) has recognized for decades that veterinary students need much of the same – and even more – opportunities at its annual conference as graduate veterinarians receive.
AABP Past President Reilly Glore, DVM, CVCP, Olympia, Wash., notes that formal student programs in conjunction with the conference had an informal start. “I was involved with the first student reception which occurred because we met a group students and decided to buy a couple of cases of beer and socialize in an empty room at the hotel,” he says. “I don't remember the city, but it is gratifying to see how it has evolved. I know of no other national veterinary organization that so enthusiastically promotes student involvement at their annual meeting.” And that involvement includes the AABP Delegate Program, annual Quiz Bowl, scholarships, student-specific programming, a student reception, and more. In recent years, typically more than 300 veterinary students from U.S., Canadian and foreign veterinary schools attend.
Fourth-year University of Wisconsin veterinary student Kendra Wells has taken full advantage of these opportunities to help establish her soon-to-be career. “Attending my first conference was more on a whim after our AABP Junior Delegate at the time, Brandon Debbink, convinced me to purchase a $500 flight to the 2015 AABP conference in New Orleans,” Wells explains. “I was invigorated by the conference and the people who attended, and what impacted me most was the camaraderie between veterinarians, industry and students. Everyone seemed interested and supportive of the students and the majority of students exhibited a positive and hardworking attitude, which I love to work with.” Wells says that was evidenced by the fact that students would be up for the annual 5K Stampede or breakfast sessions regardless of how late they stayed out the night before. “It was an infectious attitude that bound me to them,” she says.
AABP student leadership
Wells is currently the AABP Senior Delegate for the University of Wisconsin, starting as a Junior Delegate last year. This three-year leadership program (concluding after the first year after graduation) encourages attendance at the AABP conference and allows for delegates to attend committee meetings and potentially start on a path of volunteerism within the organization. “Through the student delegate program and other AABP activities, I have met many excellent veterinarians, faculty at various schools, and industry representatives,” Wells says. “The student delegate program has given me a vast amount of opportunities and inspiration to continue working on my own personal life goals, support other students’ goals and encourage attendance at AABP and interest in bovine medicine.” Because the University of Wisconsin upheld a policy barring drug companies from visiting schools in the health profession (until recently), exposure to and learning about companies and their products has been valuable to Wells.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t always been easy for all interested students to attend the conference. AABP President-Elect Mike Apley, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVCP, Kansas State University, says, “There has always been a certain irony in the fact that veterinary schools always talk about the need for their graduates to be lifetime learners, but yet some of them find it difficult if not impossible to grant students time off to actually attend this conference.”
Though she’s only been to two AABP conferences (2017 will be her third), Wells has still had some memorable moments at them. The 2015 conference was a turning point in her career goals. “That conference inspired me to go into bovine medicine,” she explains. “It invigorated me to seek out a new veterinary advisor, Dr. Terri Ollivett, who pushed me and inspired me to learn and pursue bovine medicine further. I owe her a lot and am so thankful she has been in my life.”
In 2016, she was the recipient of a $7,500 Amstutz Scholarship. “I remember talking to my fellow student, Brian Schnell, and we both agreed how honored we were to receive such an award, regardless of the monetary value associated with it.” At that meeting in Charlotte, Wells was also one of the veterinary students who was selected to attend a preconference seminar. “I felt very included even though I didn't know a ton about the subject. The coordinators had a lot of infectious enthusiasm for the subject, which encouraged me to continue participating.” AABP student chapters also help fund the Amstutz scholarships through their chapter donations to the Annual Amstutz Scholarship Auction, which accounts for thousands of dollars a year.
“At the AABP Annual Conference, students have the same networking opportunities veterinarians do,” adds AABP Executive Vice President K. Fred Gingrich, II, DVM, “And they are provided a glimpse into what bovine veterinarians find exciting about our meeting.”
Wells encourages students and veterinarians to become more involved with the conference to stay up to date on information, learn where the industry is trending, and form a support network of colleagues for their career and life. “Students, if you want to learn if bovine medicine is truly for you, attend this conference and you won't regret a single second of it,” she says. “After those four days in New Orleans, I knew this was an organization I could work with for the rest of my life because of the people and their impeccable values. AABP’s impact on students is an absolute.”
AABP’s Support of Students
AABP takes a serious interest in the future of bovine medicine with its veterinary students. Below are some of the student-centered activities AABP provides at the Annual Conference:
· Amstutz Scholarships - $828,750 to-date
· AABP Foundation-Zoetis Scholarships – $675,000 to-date
· Merck Student Recognition Award – $394,000 to-date
· Student Case Presentation Competition
· Quiz Bowl, sponsored by Elanco
· Student-specific programming
· Student Delegate Program, sponsored by Norbrook, Inc.
· Student Reception, sponsored by Elanco
· Recognition at Annual Business Luncheon
· Job Fair
· Networking opportunities