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He will be away from home 330 days out of the year traveling to just about every state by the time it is done.

He will be away from home 330 days out of the year traveling to just about every state by the time it is done.

He will likely make it to half a dozen countries and rack up more frequent flyer miles than anyone can count.

He'll deliver 75 to 100 speeches in the course of the year and give three to four interviews each week, meeting thousands of veterinarians along the way.

And it's the most incredible experience any vet can have, AVMA President Gregory Hammer says as he prepares to pass the crown to President-elect James Cook later this month.

While Hammer isn't done with his duties just yet (he will continue to serve as immediate past president for the next year), the new face of the organization is Cook.

Dr. James Cook

"Just do the best job he can and it will be really good," says Hammer, a small-animal and equine veterinarian in Dover, Del., to Cook. "It's really humbling representing veterinary medicine on a national level. Testifying before Congress was a real highlight. But most of all, I like interacting with the members — telling them the things we are doing."

Cook, a mixed-animal vet from Lebanon, Ky., will address the House of Delegates later this month at AVMA's annual meeting in New Orleans and highlight his goals for the one-year term.

The 61-year-old Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine graduate said his practice, like many others, has changed considerably since he started in 1977 from a mostly food-animal and equine practice to a predominately small-animal practice.

Modern times: When AVMA President-elect James Cook, of Lebanon, Ky., began his career 30 years ago, he treated few patients like the dog he's exami-ning in this photo. At that time, most of his patients were farm animals.

That trend has been common throughout the United States, and it is the root of several issues American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is facing today, including a shortage of food-supply animal veterinarians and public perception of animal welfare.

In an exclusive interview with DVM Newsmagazine, Cook addresses the projected food-animal veterinarian shortage, the public perception of animal- welfare issues, economic stability and promotion of the profession, the failing economy and unwanted animals and limited licensure.

While Cook doesn't have the solution for all of the issues facing the veterinary community, he does have three decades of first-hand experinece as a veterinarian, as well as the support and backing of the AVMA – and he plans to put both to good use.

Click here for Four veterinary leaders speak out.

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