Another long message, but you have good questions.
An underlying message in most of the email responses we received was a request for more information about the recent Executive Board actions on the economic strategy for the veterinary profession, so I’ve provided more details below:
- There are two committees and a new AVMA division in the plans. Although the acronyms are very similar, the Economics Vision Steering Committee (EVSC) and the Veterinary Economic Strategy Committee (VESC) are very different and have different charges. The EVSC (Economic Vision Strategy Committee) was first formed during the April EB meeting as an extension of the Strategic Planning committee when it was obvious we wanted to make Economics a priority strategic goal, based on obvious input from members and leadership (who are member representatives). This EVSC had the sole charge of planning an Economics Working Session dedicated to this issue at the end of August. It was a huge success in my opinion, which led to several of the reported EB actions taken at the subsequent EB meeting. This is NOT the same as the Veterinary Economic Strategy Committee (VESC). That recommendation, which was passed, was to form a committee of economic strategists to advise the Executive Board on “big picture” economic strategies and also respond to the new Economics Division’s need for information and insight. The EVSC was extended only as an oversight committee to this process to ensure it moves forward, to monitor progress, and to hold the process accountable until the Veterinary Economic Strategy Committee (VESC) and new Economics Division are formed and able to start their work.
- The National Economics Strategy Reserve Fund is the correct name of the $5 million fund that will be used to fund programs. The Executive Board will be in charge of approving program expenses covered by this fund. The new Economics Division will likely have projects and programs that are funded by this reserve fund, and so might other AVMA divisions. There isn’t an established budget for the Economics Division yet, and that will be addressed.
- There has been introductory discussion of a thorough workforce study, but no official decision has been made at this time because the Executive Board determined it is best to postpone this study until we had some additional framework for the economics strategy.
- We believe this is an urgent situation. The timeline is ASAP. The EVSC has a conference call scheduled for the end of September to discuss progress. There will be a forthcoming nomination process for the VESC, similar to the process used to form the Vision 20/20 Committee. Nominations will be accepted, the nominating committee will choose a Chair for the VESC, and then that selected Chair will join the nominating committee to select the other VESC members. That committee will not be limited to veterinarians; we need to include experts from outside veterinary medicine who are knowledgeable in economic issues. If you are interested in serving, watch for the forthcoming information for submitting nominations.
- No programs have yet been identified for the National Economics Strategy Reserve Fund. We are working on developing the approved structure, that is, getting the new advisory committee in place and developing the new Economics Division. That process of clearly defining job descriptions and expectations, and the hiring of qualified individuals takes time. We need to do this right, patiently but promptly.
- Members have asked how the AVMA’s acquisition of NCVEI fits into these actions. The AVMA is in the process of purchasing the intellectual property of the NCVEI and is looking into maintaining the website for the immediate future, but its long-term future will be incorporated into the new Economics Strategy and Communications plan.
- We each need to be more visible and vocal as to what we do and why it is important for every person on earth. If we succeed in communicating that message, there will be increased demand for veterinarians. This recent recession has highlighted economic difficulty for many people, veterinarians and the general public alike, however, veterinary medicine has been in a slight decline for demand of our services for longer than the onset of the recession.
If we unify for this cause with a clear and consistent message, no matter what career path we have taken within veterinary medicine, we will be successful. I hope we will all jump on board! Please feel free to post your comments below, and I hope you’ll continue to come to our AVMA@Work blog to see what we’re doing on economics and other professional issues.