Continuing Education at the AAEP Convention

T he American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) recently held its 45th Annual Convention in Albuquerque, N.M. More than 2,600 veterinarians attended, plus spouses, veterinary students, technicians, and exhibitors. Ben Franklin, DVM, Program Chair, aided by the Educational Programs Committee, Abstract Selection Committee, and staff of AAEP, put on a terrific four-day Scientific Program. As President-Elect of AAEP, I am the Program Chair for the 2000 meeting to be held in San Antonio, Nov. 26-29, which means I have the onerous task of developing the program.

Continuing education of our members is considered the most important function of the AAEP and the biggest reason that our members belong. It leads to the obvious question--what is continuing education for veterinarians and what does continuing education for veterinarians mean to horse owners?

The answer is quite simple and is well represented by the words continuing education. Like any other professional, the equine veterinarian must stay current on the best methods of diagnosis and treatment of horses' conditions. He or she also must be informed of new disease developments, including new understandings of disease mechanism (what we call pathophysiology). If the veterinarian does not do this, then the horse does not receive the best care. If that happens, we as an association are not doing our bit to fulfill our membership statement, which is to maintain the health and welfare of the horse.

I will give some examples from this year's program to illustrate what kind of continuing education our members received.

There was a seminar on purchase examination, an area fraught with pitfalls and legal implications. Experts on the prepurchase examination of various breeds presented their views and addressed the critical questions. There was another half-day session on infectious disease with information on new modified live vaccinations being presented and critical data on their effectiveness being analyzed. There was the Frank Milne Lecture, which was set up only three years ago to recognize a person who has made a lengthy and lifetime contribution to an important discipline. A very appropriate lecturer this year was Dr. Joe Mayhew, who is recognized worldwide as the authority on equine neurologic disease. There was an in-depth seminar on how to interpret radiographs of the distal limb, and various new treatments in lameness and orthopedics were presented.

As part of the podiatry (hoof) session, Dr. Chris Pollitt presented exciting new (but also controversial) ideas with different thinking on the process of laminitis. There also were sessions for internal medicine and sports medicine as well as a back-to-basics session that included a talk on how to read a scientific paper and screen the literature--something that is quite a challenge for the busy practitioner in the information age. The opening session had Dr. Lowell Catlett giving us a look at the future of the world in which we live, and the Kester News Hour provided a series of news updates on significant events of the past year in equine veterinary medicine.

Veterinarians who attended can't help but come back to their practice--and your horses--better informed. Obviously, this meeting is not the only continuing education medium we have, but I use it as an example of what the AAEP does for the equine veterinarian and in turn, your horse. The oral and visual presentations are supported by an excellent proceedings book that vets can continue to use as reference. If veterinarians had to stay home and mind the practice at the time of this meeting, they can come back to "Encore" in July 2000 and get the best of the December 1999 program.

This year, I will try to imitate this quality. I will pick in-depth speakers who are recognized experts, and all submitted abstracts will be carefully reviewed by an Abstract Selection Committee headed by Dr. Gayle Trotter and me. We will critically review abstracts of submitted papers to ensure the conclusions are valid, and the information is ready for "prime time." In this way, it is hoped that only valid information will be transmitted to our membership, and in turn be applied to the treatment of your horse.

About the Author

C. Wayne Mcllwraith, BVSc, FRCVS, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, Dipl. ECVS

C. Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, FRCVS, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, Dipl. ECVS, is Director of the Orthopaedic Research Center, Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Colorado State University, and a past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

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