In this episode of The Business of Practice podcast, Katie Garrett, DVM, DACVS, shareholder and director of diagnostic imaging at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, and 2024 AAEP President, joined us to talk about the veterinary industry and what she hopes to achieve during her term.
Priorities as AAEP President
Garrett said she will “continue the work of the AAEP Commission for Equine Veterinary Sustainability,” which began several years ago by identifying problems and then moving on to solutions. She applauded the “amazing work products” the subcommittees created and promised to disseminate these tools to as many equine veterinarians as possible. In addition, she spoke of the many accessible and practical ideas that bubbled up from members in this effort. She noted that in this time of demographic change in the profession, with many baby boomers moving toward retirement and new generations joining the workforce, “it is critical to engage ALL members and embrace diversity, because the more perspectives we have, the more successful we’ll be!”
Issues Facing the Veterinary Profession
In exploring the most pressing issues facing the profession in the coming decade, Garrett first spoke about the difficulty in attracting and retaining veterinarians and staff members, the burden of educational debt, differing generational needs and expectations, and the struggle of financial realities in many underserved rural areas of the country. She emphasized the importance of using veterinary technicians fully to increase efficiency and productivity.
Garrett also highlighted the social license to operate. “The public determines what is socially acceptable, which is appropriate,” she said. Particularly in some horse sports such as horse racing and rodeo, social license has been eroded. “Horse racing needs to be safer for horses as well as jockeys,” she said. In addition, all the recent efforts to do this need to be shared effectively with the public. Garrett emphasized that veterinarians have an opportunity to educate the general public with every small interaction.
AAEP Resources and Governance
The most important things about the AAEP Garrett wished to share with podcast listeners were related to available resources and governance. “Sometimes it’s like drinking from a firehose,” she said. “If you’re wondering about something, likely you can find it on the AAEP website—that is, our new website, which will launch early in 2024.” She said the new site will be much more user-friendly and easier to search.
With regard to governance, Garrett explained the organization is currently fairly opaque, with many members not understanding what happens behind the curtain or how leaders are selected. In 2024, the AAEP will provide members with more information about the organization’s internal functions. In addition, she said, “The AAEP has a unique problem for an association—we have too many volunteers rather than too few.” However, the AAEP is working hard to involve new people while continuing to lean on those with experience, and it is developing fresh outreach opportunities this year.
In closing, Garrett said, “We want to hear from you!” She spoke of the association’s commitment to a culture of inclusion and belonging. “This is your organization. Make your voice heard,” she said. She encouraged listeners to call the AAEP office or reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Dr. Katie Garrett
Katie Garrett, DVM, DACVS, attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 1999. She then attended veterinary school at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, graduating with distinction in 2003. Garrett completed two internships and an equine surgery residency at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, achieving board certification in the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 2012. Her main area of interest is diagnostic imaging, in particular musculoskeletal MRI and laryngeal imaging. She heads Rood & Riddle Equine’s diagnostic imaging department and is the 2024 President of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
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