You Asked For It …

Dear Colleagues,

AVMA@Work is going interactive!

You might recall responding to a recent survey we sent to AVMA@Work subscribers asking for your input on the e-newsletter and how we might improve it to better meet your needs. Well, about a third of you indicated that you’d like to be able to comment on what’s included in AVMA@Work, and two-thirds of you said you’d like to be able to see the comments of others.

Starting this month, you can have all that and more, as we launch the blog version of AVMA@Work.

Along with the opportunity to comment, the online AVMA@Work also lets you see archived versions of the e-newsletter, and it provides a list of topics that allows you to search for other items of interest or things you might have missed. There’s also a listing of other AVMA Web sites that might be of interest to you.

So, if you’ve got something to say, let your fingers do the talking.

Talking Medicine, and Life

We have a question for you: Do you ever feel like you’re being pecked to death by ducks?

This quaint query was recently posted on the AVMA Online Discussion Group by an association member who was seeking some advice on a pretty serious topic – the life-work balance and how to handle the professional demands placed on each of us. Judging from the responses by discussion group members, the life-work balance is a common issue, and all types of suggestions were offered.

If you haven’t checked out the Online Discussion Group, do so today. No matter what the topic of interest – from canine, feline, food animal, equine and exotics, to practice management, legal issues and, yes, the life-work balance – you’ll find people with something to say and something to offer.

Also known as the Network of Animal Health, or NOAH, the Online Discussion Group provides an opportunity for you to network, ask questions, consult and interact with your colleagues both near and far. This free, members-only service is made up of a pretty close-knit community that can provide guidance, support and even lend a sympathetic ear to your concerns, whether you’re dodging ducks or not.

An Inside Education

Do you know of a veterinary student interested in learning more about organized veterinary medicine through an externship at AVMA headquarters? If so, a brand new initiative might be just what they’re looking for.

Members of the Student AVMA are eligible for two- to four-week externships that will take place between May 1, 2009, and May 1, 2010, at our headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill., just outside Chicago. The five externs chosen to take part in the program will receive stipends of up to $1,000 each.

Students taking part in the AVMA Headquarters Externship Stipend Program will work with AVMA staff in one or more of the following divisions: Animal Welfare, Communications, Education and Research, Membership and Field Services, Publications, and Scientific Activities, as well as in the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. A natural extension of other AVMA extern programs, the Headquarters experience opens yet another window to veterinary medicine and its many facets.

Division assignments will depend on choice, time and availability. Applications, curriculum vitae, statements of interest, letters of approval and letters of recommendation should be postmarked by April 1. The top five applicants will be notified by May 1. For more information, students can e-mail; call (800) 248-2862, Ext. 6693; or go to Follow the “Services available from the AVMA” link, and click on “AVMA Headquarters Externship Stipend Program.”

Hitting the Hill

Recent requests for AVMA leadership to testify on Capitol Hill reflect our ever-expanding role in helping shape federal legislation that is critical to animal and public health, as well as the veterinary profession. The AVMA’s reputation as the nation’s leading authority on veterinary issues, combined with Dr. DeHaven’s past employment with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, has positioned the association as a vital resource for our federal lawmakers.

As a matter of fact, this past month has seen Dr. DeHaven travel twice to Washington, D.C., to testify on two issues that are integral pieces of the AVMA’s strategic goals. On Feb. 26, Dr. DeHaven testified before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on the dangerous shortage of veterinarians working for the federal government and in other underserved areas, including food safety and public health. His testimony focused on the sobering results of a study conducted by the United States Government Accountability Office.

As Dr. DeHaven told the subcommittee members, “It is alarming to see in black-and-white how ill-prepared our nation appears to be in the event of a major animal disease outbreak, or worse, a pandemic.” He urged Congress to focus their efforts on providing robust debt relief to graduating veterinarians and increasing funding for veterinary school expansion.

Another key issue – and one that I have made a priority during my AVMA presidency – is the National Animal Identification System and the important role it plays in protecting our nation’s food supply and food animal populations. Dr. DeHaven traveled to Washington just last week to bring that message to members of a U.S. House Agriculture subcommittee.

Dr. DeHaven explained that making the ID system mandatory would allow for the quick control of diseases entering the U.S. food supply. The speedy turnaround, he argued, could save millions of animal lives and billions of dollars, as well as shield public health and U.S. trade from profound damages.

Neither Mouse nor Bulldog

As AVMA leadership addresses animal welfare issues during our travels around the country, we try to stay focused on a central theme that animal care and housing can’t always be addressed by the quick fix. Animal welfare decisions are complex, with most animal-care systems having both advantages and disadvantages. Add the social aspect to the animal welfare debate, and things get even stickier.

Dr. Gail Golab, director of the AVMA Animal Welfare Division, recently provided a briefingfor congressional staff members to help educate them about the complexities of animal welfare decision-making. As Dr. Golab told us, she didn’t go to Washington, D.C., only with an agenda to advance AVMA positions. Her goal was to educate, and her message was well-received.

You see, many legislators are looking for the facts when it comes to animal welfare issues; they don’t want to be misled. The feedback Dr. Golab received indicated that our message was balanced and fair. Many of the legislators and staffshe spoke with said it’s difficult for them to navigate between the conflicting interests of their constituencies when it comes to animal welfare. They’re frustrated, and they’re looking for people who can provide them with complete and trustworthy information, rather than a slanted view of the facts and/or a 30-second sound bite.

Your legislators are probably grappling with the same types of issues. Make sure you sign up for AVMA CAN, our Congressional Advocacy Network, to help ensure that your legislative representatives know “the rest of the story.”(A tip of the hat to Mr. Paul Harvey.)

Our goal is to help them better understand the decision-making process. As Dr. Golab so aptly put it, “It’s not about being the mouse or the bulldog. It’s about doing what veterinarians do best, which is being compassionate, empathetic and an informed voice on animal issues. We wanted to get across to them that the AVMA is an organization they can rely on for a complete and honest picture, as well as solutions that work in the real world.”


Cook signature DeHaven signature
James O. Cook, MS, DVM
W. Ron DeHaven, DVM, MBA
Chief Executive Officer

2 thoughts on “You Asked For It …

  1. Kudos, congratulations, well done, bravo!!!! I have always enjoyed the succinct offerings of AVMA@Work. Being interactive is spectacular. Having the personnel to monitor the responses must be a pain but a necessary one. AVMA is proving that it truly is the ‘go to’ organization for the profession. I would only ask that this communique be sent to all AVMA members. My dues are being well spent.
    Bernadine Cruz, DVM

  2. It is mandatory to make the ID system required. I don’t care for being the police, but being the police with no requirement is ridiculous. I look at the USDA papers as part of my legal responsibility and if the CEM test papers ask for the Premise ID, I want to fill that in completely. So, I call around to find out it is required in one state and not in another. The owners have it opposite; as in, the one from the state in which it is suggested have the ID, but the one to which the horse has been sent as a lesson horse is required, but does not. It drives me bonkers, and I hate that it is not required. As an ASERT veterinarian, should the necessity occur that quarantine will be enforced by my state officials, I am to survey and report the situation as it stands when I arrive. Having at least some indication of what I am to report in numbers and species would make my responsibility so much more succinct. Having and owning animals is a responsibility, not a right and we need numbers and premise ID’s for situations such as these.