How closely do you monitor the legislative issues that could potentially change the practice of veterinary medicine in your state? I can promise you that your awareness and knowledge of current issues in your state are absolutely critical. I believe each of us has a responsibility to provide our legislators with the personal insight and opinions that only a member of our profession can provide.
In Alabama, over the last few weeks, our veterinarians have been focused on a bill that has the potential to challenge the current climate of veterinary practice in our state. The proposed bill would allow for veterinary practice ownership by non-veterinarians. There has been a tremendous amount of discussion and political maneuvering by many individuals and groups—veterinarians, private citizens, and animal welfare and rescue groups alike. As a member of the Executive Board of the Alabama VMA, I knew that our organization would be looked to as a source of information and as the voice of the veterinarians in our state. I knew that we needed to develop a position statement as a state association and that our decisions would affect each of our members. Our Executive Board approached this topic with the greatest respect and the highest level of concern because of the impact that our decision would have on our membership and on the pet-owning public in Alabama.
This “battle” in our state has been a very difficult one, and it has reminded me to remain focused on the Veterinarian’s Oath and the principles that guide me every day. As a leader, your opinions will be challenged both by those who are uninformed on the issues and those who are very well versed on the issues before them. You must solidify your position and be willing and able to defend it. I know I will be an even stronger leader in the future as I have been personally challenged by this experience and have learned from it. Don’t ever be afraid to stand up for what you believe is right.