Showcasing equine practice
LEXINGTON, KY. — For the last five years, Dr. William A. Rood, co-founder and director of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, has been doing some proselytizing — seeking to convert as many young veterinary students as he can to the practice of equine medicine.
It seems to be working.
Over Labor Day weekend, 528 third-year students from 34 veterinary schools across North America and the Caribbean attended Rood & Riddle's fifth annual Opportunities in Equine Practice Seminar (OEPS). Most received all-expense-paid trips to Lexington to hear leading speakers on equine medicine, meet practitioners, visit horse farms and tour veterinary hospitals and Keeneland Racecourse.
Attendees must be third-year students and members of their school's chapter of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP).
The culture in veterinary schools tends to encourage students toward companion-animal practice and away from equine medicine, Rood says, adding that "some professors openly preach to them that life will be better on the companion-animal side — fewer hours, better starting pay, less likelihood of getting hurt and so on."
That's part of Rood's message, and he's making converts.
Of the first-year OEPS group, now graduated, 57 percent are still AAEP members and 52 percent of the second-year attendees are still in the AAEP. "That's perhaps 200 to 250 new equine practitioners," Rood says.
Rood is particularly pleased with this year's turnout. The 528 third-year students at OEPS represent the third-largest veterinary-student gathering in the country, after the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SCAVMA) and those who meet at the North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC).
"It really says something that representatives of 41 practices (nationwide) put forth the effort to come here, — some from as far away as California, Arizona and Canada — set up exhibits like a job fair and meet the students," Rood says. "That just shows how much new equine doctors are needed. Another indicator is that the AAEP now has 226 jobs and 124 resumes on its Web site."