AVMA Plans for Community Building – Improving NOAH

One thing we talk about a lot at the AVMA, and in many different contexts, is the need to build and nurture our member community. It’s a priority that I’ve heard from Executive Board members, committees and councils, members who take part in surveys, and staff members.

This is an area where our website – and other electronic communications media – can and should add a lot of value.  We want to see more and more members talking with each other and with us, both on our website and on external social networks. So this is an area where we’re putting in a lot of effort as we rebuild the AVMA website.

How many of you know about our NOAH discussion boards? Actually, judging from the member survey we did when we started looking at rebuilding our website, I can tell you: about 35% of all survey respondents did not even know about this valuable resource. If you’re in that 35%, I encourage you to take a look at the discussion forum. There are a lot of conversations going on between and among members, on topics ranging from clinical treatment questions to AVMA policy matters.

But this isn’t intended as a plug for NOAH. In fact, there are some things that we can’t do on NOAH right now, but want to do in the future. We’re actually planning to make this discussion forum a whole lot better when we relaunch our website. What constitutes better? Well, for starters, you’ll be able to:

  • Follow (or provide) a direct link to a specific discussion thread, instead of entering through the main page and having to sort through all topics.
  • Sign up to “follow” a discussion (or as many as you’d like) and be notified of new posts to that discussion.

Dr. Kimberly May, one of the assistant directors in the AVMA Communications Division, is working closely with the current NOAH community to define what they want these discussion forums to be and help us build the right platform. She’s created a discussion thread called “NOAH/AVMA website update” within the General/Roundtable discussion forum, where she’s planning to post periodic updates.

We’re also working to provide more tools to help our members work together as a community once we launch the new website. These include:

  • More opportunities to comment on current and proposed AVMA policies and strategic goals. (Wonder what you can comment on currently? We conduct a year-round Critical issues Scan for strategic planning, and also ask for member input on Animal Welfare policies when they’re up for review.)
  • Better/easier sharing of AVMA content through external social networks such as Facebook.
  • More integration between this AVMA@Work blog and the rest of the website, to encourage more members to engage with us and each other on AVMA@Work.

Are there any additional community-related activities you’d like us to think about? Please let us know in the comments section.

11 thoughts on “AVMA Plans for Community Building – Improving NOAH

  1. With regard to commenting on animal welfare policies, the “submit a comment” link seems to be missing….

    • Thanks for pointing that out, Wendy. As a matter of fact, there aren’t currently any animal welfare policies open for comment. The comment periods have closed for the three policies that are currently under review — Free Roaming, Owned Cats;
      Hot-Iron Branding and Its Alternatives; and Therapeutic Medications in Racehorses. We’ve updated the website to make that more clear. As additional Animal Welfare policies come up for review, they will definitely be posted on that page.

  2. As individual Veterinarians and as a profession we must aggressively pursue any bona fide cruelty/abuse to our animals until it is obliterated from the face of the earth. Animal abuse in any form is scarcely removed from child/spouse abuse!

  3. This may sound small and simplistic but I think NOAH needs re-branding, a different name. The name “Noah” is not inviting and even sounds biblical! I know it is an acronym but I think the communications division could come up with a much more savvy, draw people in name as part of an initiative to invite members to re-engage on veterinary issues and discussions.

  4. @Ruth Beismer
    Thanks for your suggestions, Dr. Beismer. As a matter of fact, we recently began sending the AVMA@Work newsletter to all members as a member benefit — with, as you suggested, a clear, easy opt-out option. If you haven’t been receiving the newsletter, it might be that we don’t have an up-to-date email address for you. You can check on that by clicking on the “Newsletters” link at the top right of this blog (or going to http://www.avma.org/myavma/email_subscriptions/ — the direct URL.) Regarding your suggestion for a link from VIN: That’s obviously not within our control, but if you’d like to make that suggestion to VIN we’d certainly be more than happy to have them link to this blog.

  5. Dr. May,
    Thanks for your rapid response and the additional info. I’ve had more time to read several of the older posts and stories on this blog and I think it is truly outstanding. The issues are important, the info is succinct and usable by busy practitioners, and it very effectively answers the question of “what does AVMA do for me?” I wish I had discovered it a year ago, and I think many other veterinarians would feel the same way. It has the potential to be a powerful communication tool, and I wholeheartedly agree with your statement “we think it’s a great way to quickly update our members and encourage discussion.”

    I think the two key ingredients to success would be to get more AVMA members to participate, and to ensure that AVMA leadership actually reads and considers the opinions of the membership. I’m sure your team has been working on those two issues already. Perhaps a link to the blog on VIN’s front page would encourage more traffic. Maybe a mass e-mail of the newsletter with an easy opt-out option? I don’t know the best approach, but I will be checking the blog regularly now, and I greatly appreciate the hard work of those who have put it together. Thanks for your efforts.

  6. @Eden Myers
    Thanks for the input! We’ll bring your request to their attention, just in case they haven’t already seen it.

  7. @Ruth Beismer
    Thanks for your input, Dr. Beismer. Although this blog is more than a year old now, it has been (and continues to be) an evolving process. It started with groups of posts made in clusters (associated with our AVMA@Work newsletter), but has evolved into more regular posts from a variety of staff members. It’s continuing to evolve and we think it’s a great way to quickly update our members and encourage discussion. Although it doesn’t seem to you that there’s much discussion, we’ve been tracking it and we’ve seen significant increases in traffic and an increase in comments. Sure, we’d like to see more – but it’s building.
    As far as the comments go, they’re monitored by AVMA Communications staff for the most part. We respond when appropriate, or we notify the appropriate staff members when a response is out of our purview. We also notify the appropriate people or entities when comments relevant to them are made, because we know they can’t necessarily monitor this blog as much as they’d like.

  8. I am one of those 35%! I’m really glad to see AVMA
    recognize the importance of a place for discussion. Definitely
    fulfills the 2020 Vision Report prediction that “the future will
    belong only to those who have the tools and vision to embrace
    it”. Glad to see the AVMA commit the financial resources to
    developing the tools we need. Now I’ll echo Ken’s desire to
    see our AVMA leaders join us in discussion. Could we see
    some response from the Executive Board to the 2020 Vision

  9. I also applaud the plans to improve NOAH and hope that it will encourage more discussion among veterinarians, and more ability to influence decisions made by AVMA leadership. I have just spent approx 20 minutes exploring this AVMA @ work website and I am impressed. It seems like another good communication tool, but lacking much participation. I am curious as to who monitors and responds to the comments that are left?

  10. I would certainly encourage our membership to explore NOAH discussion groups to see if it has a role in your practice and life. It is not for everyone and it is not meant to be a replacement or even competition for VIN. We have many colleagues who participate in both forums. Others have found that NOAH is a better fit for them than VIN. I am certain the converse also has occurred.

    Clearly NOAH had a major setback a few years ago when we lost paid moderators due to budget cuts, but I understand that limited resources must be focused where they affect the most members. My hope is that new format will foster increased participation and, in turn, the return of moderators.

    One area I certainly hope to see grow and develop would be as an interactive discussion forum for the major issues facing our profession. Since NOAH is a free and private forum for ALL AVMA members, this seems to me to be the most logical place for these discussions to occur. I would encourage all our leaders in the AVMA to “prime this pump” in conjunction with the launch of the new format by posting and responding to issues and questions within the NOAH community.

    Give us a look. I think you will find a valuable, but much underused resource that needs you and others to join with the veterans to grow our family and our community. I am convinced that the profession must have this type of forum as we continue to move deeper and deeper into this digital age.