The Business of Practice: Equine Veterinary Sustainability
happy veterinarian
“We have the opportunity to show people that [being an equine practitioner] is an amazing life!” said Dr. Rob Franklin (not pictured here). Thinkstock

We are happy to have AAEP President Rob Franklin, DVM, DACVIM, on The Business of Practice podcast to talk about equine veterinary sustainability. The AAEP has been leading the charge in working toward solutions in the equine veterinary industry through its Commission for Veterinary Sustainability.

We began our podcast with the question: What do you think the turning point was for the AAEP to make veterinary sustainability its number one area of focus? Franklin said, “I don’t think It was a singular moment or event that created the need to get this Commission underway. It was a culmination of many events. A lot of them were a long time coming. There’s been changes in the way equine practice looks.

“You can look at something like gender change that has taken place over the last three decades, where we have gone from predominantly male profession to now, where we’re about equally represented,” he added. “In the future, the majority of practitioners will be female. That’s great, but it certainly comes with some changes that are inherent in how males and females practice and some generational shifts and the way general society shifts.”

Franklin said while equine practitioners are noted for their work ethic and service of horse owners and horses, “There always was ‘old Doc,’ and he or she was always available. That served horse owners and horses very well. It also resulted in broken marriages, estranged children and health issues with the practitioners who don’t get to care for themselves.

“We’ve known about those things…and those things have not snuck up on us,” he added. “We’ve been adapting practice. But in the past five years—including COVID, the ability to work, the shortage of workers, and veterinary medicine having a lot of demand on the small animal side that has a strong pull for equine practitioners to go that way because there are a lot of opportunities—that it just created a tipping point.”

Franklin said he was happy we made it to the tipping point because he knows “there is a silver lining. When we make it through this mess, equine practice will be better.”

About the Commission for Veterinary Sustainability

Franklin talked about how the Commission was started and how it has progressed in the last three years. He discussed each of the subcommittees of the Commission and the types of research, tools and deliverables that the subcommittees were now making available.

The subcommittees are Compensation, Emergency Coverage, Students, Internships and Practice Culture.

The Future

Franklin said the desire of the equine veterinary industry is to build a profession that young people want to be a part of. “People are motivated to see these changes,” he said. “But it’s the vet at home who creates the change.”

He added that, “What AAEP members can do is make changes in the profession at home. Talk to FFA groups, high schools and local colleges. Talk to clients. Construct a practice with a strong culture. Be agents of change.”

“We can make it happen!” he emphasized.

“We have the opportunity to show people that [being an equine practitioner] is an amazing life!” Franklin stated. “We need to show them change as we talk about it. But if we don’t change and make it great, we are charlatans. If you aren’t walking the talk, it’s not working.

“We need to start the process in 2023,” he added.

Editor’s note: Tune in to listen to the entire podcast conversation with Franklin to learn more about what the AAEP is doing and how you can get involved.

About Rob Franklin, DVM, DACVIM

Dr. Rob Franklin is a board certified equine internal medicine specialist who has a special interest in sports medicine, lameness and advanced diagnostic work-ups in seriously ill patients. He serves as a consultant and business manager for Fredericksburg Equine and currently does not offer routine appointments due to other business endeavors and volunteer obligations.

Franklin graduated with Honors from Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999. He performed his internship in Ventura Country, California, working on English sport horses (dressage, jumping, hunters), Western athletes (team penning, cutting, reining) and Arabian Show horses. Following his internship, he completed his 3-year specialist’s residency at the University of Florida in 2003. The University of Florida is the pioneer of equine neonatal medicine and in the center of Thoroughbred breeding and training facilities. Franklin was at ground zero during the West Nile virus epidemic in 2001-2002, admitting more than 100 clinical cases to the ICU during this time. His research included the study of EPM prevention, determining survival in neonatal foals and monitoring cardiac health in speed athletes.

After his residency, he worked as a specialist, establishing the first intensive care unit at the Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital in Shepparton, Victoria, Australia. Victoria is home to a large population of Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses in training and breeding farms. Franklin returned to Ocala, Florida, and established another intensive care unit at Equine Medical Center of Ocala. This center served the local Thoroughbred breeding and training farms, winter horse show circuits, Quarter Horse farms and a large population of gaited Spanish horses. Franklin returned to Texas in 2008 to start another intensive care program at Weatherford Equine Medical Center in the Cutting Horse Capital of the World.

Franklin has published in peer-reviewed medical journals, written multiple scientific book chapters and has presented at veterinary meetings locally, nationally and internationally. As a respected practitioner, researcher, lecturer and leader, Franklin formed the Texas Equine Veterinary Association in 2008 and served as its president in 2012. In 2014 he was elected as a director of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the largest equine veterinary organization in the world. After serving three years on the board between 2015-2017, then chairing the newly formed Wellness Committee, Franklin was selected as the Vice President of the organization in 2021, and assumed the role of President of the AAEP in 2023.

Franklin is also co-founder of the animal nutritional supplement company FullBucket.

Rob is married to Laurie Jenschke Franklin and has two daughters, Bree and Colbie. Bree attends Fredericksburg High School and Colbie attends St. Mary’s Catholic School. The family attends church at Hill Country Church and enjoy all things Fredericksburg and Texas: fine wines, tennis, saltwater bay fishing, wakesurfing and travel. Rob has been leading veterinary volunteer trips to Central America for the past 9 years with over 16 trips completed to Mexico, Guatemala, Panama and Nicaragua serving indigenous people and their working horses/donkeys/mules while helping to train veterinary colleagues of the country. 

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