A little more than a week ago, I assumed the role of president of your AVMA. I am deeply honored to represent you, your interests and the veterinary profession in the coming year.
I also ask for your help. These are challenging times, and our profession is not immune from those challenges, whether they’re rooted in our global economic situation, the state of our veterinary workforce or in animal welfare issues.
So how can you help? You can volunteer your services as a member of AVMA and state VMA councils and committees. You can mentor a student. You can visit your local schools for a career day. You can join our Congressional Advocacy Network. Whatever you might choose, the goal is to make your voice heard. Every little bit helps.
I look forward to working with each and every one of you to help ensure that the veterinary profession remains a national treasure.
The Year Ahead
I’ll also need the dedicated staff members who help make our association so strong. They will be instrumental in helping me achieve some of my goals this year on issues such as education, advocacy and diversity.
I’ll rely heavily on the expertise in the AVMA’s Education and Research Division to help turn out the brightest, most well-trained doctors in the world. I’ll work with both AVMA staff and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) to help ensure that our standards remain high and that our graduates are well educated, confident in their skills, happy with their chosen career and able to sustain a wholesome lifestyle, including the ability to pay for their education.
When it comes to advocating for our profession and staying on top of the issues, no one does it better than our Governmental Relations Division, members of which I will be relying on for their help with a number of high-priority legislative initiatives. With Congress grappling with funding issues across the board, our issues risk the chance of falling between the cracks. I will not let that happen, and I pledge my efforts toward making sure that members of Congress understand the critical role that veterinarians play in our nation’s economy, food safety and homeland security. I’ll also be helping with state issues, because we all know that “all politics is local.”
Finally, my focus will also be on increasing diversity within our profession. We need to develop and implement solutions that make veterinary medicine a diverse profession that genuinely reflects the population of this great nation. I intend to shepherd that process, to foster its development with many AVMA staff members and to become its evangelist.
Animal Welfare Symposium
As we continue our emphasis on animal welfare as one of our five strategic goals, I’m excited about an upcoming event that we can proudly say is the first of its kind.
This fall, in collaboration with the AAVMC, the AVMA will be hosting what we expect to be a highly successful Joint International Educational Symposium on Animal Welfare at Michigan State University. This will be our first opportunity to bring together animal welfare experts from around the world to collaborate on how we can better integrate animal welfare questions and solutions into our educational curricula and research programs. Our goal is to strengthen veterinary knowledge about welfare issues so that we are prepared to provide leadership in this critical area.
The Executive Board approved the animal welfare symposium in June 2008, and our Animal Welfare, Education and Research, Convention and Meeting Planning, and Communications divisions have been putting in a lot of work to make it all happen. It is our hope that the symposium, which is being held Nov. 9-11, begins the process of bridging the gap in veterinary education when it comes to animal welfare. We as veterinarians need more than a soft spot in our hearts for animals to fulfill our oath when it comes to ensuring animal welfare. We need to teach animal welfare just like we teach pathology. Because, after all, animal welfare really embodies what we consider “the science and art” of veterinary medicine.
A Visit to the Hen House
Another exciting opportunity in the field of animal welfare is the advisory role we are playing in a potentially groundbreaking study in the area of animal housing. This multiyear study will involve tens of thousands of egg-laying hens in existing commercial facilities. And that’s a big deal, because such a large-scale study is critical if we want to be able to translate the findings to the real world.
This is a way to look at virtually every aspect of food animal production systems, giving us a comprehensive picture of the economics, the environment, the welfare of the animal and the ethical issues. In other words, this isn’t just about eggs and hens; this is about developing a model with cross-species applicability for the purpose of making better animal welfare decisions.
This is a way to take a very balanced look at what happens – both good and bad – when you change particular agricultural practices. It gives us a road map based on realistic data and feedback.
Researchers from Michigan State University and the University of California Davis are leading the study, which, in addition to the AVMA, includes involvement by McDonald’s, the Cargill Corp., the American Humane Association, the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and the not-for-profit Center for Food Integrity.
As Dr. Gail Golab, director of our Animal Welfare Division, put it, “This is a unique endeavor for us. The study design is aligned with our strategic goal of advocating for animal welfare from a scientific approach. And this is a refreshing example of the type of engagement we need to effectively solve problems. We are bringing together into the same room a broad range of perspectives and goals. Doing that helps us get the right questions asked and goes a long way toward making sure we don’t miss any reasonable answers.”
Look to AVMAtv for Answers
We’ve had no shortage of questions lately about some pretty hot topics. When it comes to helping answer these questions, we’ve turned recently to AVMAtv, a relatively new addition to our AVMA family of Web sites.
The brainchild of the AVMA Communications Division, AVMAtv is our very own strategic Internet “network” that allows us to reach a variety of audiences – our members, the public, governmental decision-makers and the media. With so many hot-button topics in the news recently, Dr. DeHaven has sat down with Communications Division staffers to videotape messages that we hope help answer some of those questions from our perspective.
You’ve no doubt heard some of the topics being addressed – our use of the Pike Place fishmongers at our convention in Seattle; the possibility that the use of antimicrobials might be creating “super bugs”; animal housing; the H1N1 virus; and the National Animal Identification System.
AVMAtv is a great way to stay up on topics that are in the news. We hope you’ll take a look today, and revisit every other week, when new videos with Dr. DeHaven are posted. You can also find many of the same videos on the AVMA YouTube channel.
Ode to an Old Friend
For more than 90 years, the bound version of the AVMA Membership Directory & Resource Manual served as the bible to our profession and our association. Growing right along with both the profession and our membership numbers, the directory swelled to more than 1,000 pages in the 2008-09 edition.
It served us well; it also got heavy. And, let’s be honest, it takes a lot of trees to print something that is sent to more than 65,000 people each year. So, with cost – and your posture – in mind, as well as in an effort to be a bit more environmentally friendly, we switched this year to an online version of our directory.
We made sure that we kept intact what you like most, and one of the most popular sections of the directory is our member portion, which is now better than ever. Apart from finding information on where a member practices, which veterinary school they attended, whether they’re a specialist and their species category, now you can also create your own search based on many more criteria. Wondering where your classmates are from the University of Florida College of Vet Med Class of 1987? You can find that, and virtually every other class, thanks to the new search capabilities. Trying to find a specialist in oncology who practices in Chicago? You can find that, as well.
Some of us might miss the big-old “green book,” but the new online directory, thanks to the efforts of our Membership and Field Services, Information Technology and Communications divisions, is a wonderful step into the future, giving you instant access to a plethora of information. So check it out, and help us out by updating your member information so that we can keep the new directory as up-to-date as possible. We’d also like to hear any feedback you might have on the new directory. You can share your thoughts with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Again, I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible, and working with all of you, in the coming year.
|Larry R. Corry, DVM
|W. Ron DeHaven, DVM, MBA
Chief Executive Officer