Board of Directors meeting summary, September 2015

By: Dr. John de Jong, Board of Directors Chair; Dr. Joe Kinnarney, AVMA President; Dr. Tim Montgomery, House Advisory Committee Chair; Dr. Ron DeHaven, AVMA Executive Vice President

Dr. John de JongJust as the AVMA rolled out our new brand and logo this summer in Boston, we would like to recognize a new day at the AVMA. As part of the new day at the AVMA, we would like to foster improved lines of communication. It is to this goal that we share with you this synopsis of what transpired at the recent Board meeting.

The board is in the midst of an assessment of our function and efficacy, and we discussed the results so far. Using BoardSource and an experienced consultant, the initial step was to survey the Board and staff leadership and create a scorecard that would help us better evaluate our strengths as well as areas that need improvement. All of our self-assessment ‘grades’ were in the B and C range, which the consultant told us were expected and acceptable at this stage of the review. In general, we feel that we’ve been more effective on an operational level than a strategic level, and that provides opportunity for us to improve and focus on the strategic role. The difference between operational and strategic functions, and the role of the Board in each type of function, was discussed.

We held breakout sessions and set priorities for moving forward, including improving communication with efforts such as this synopsis. We also plan to address the need for better orientation and continued training of board members; better clarification of roles and decision-making parameters between officers, entities and staff; aligning board subcommittees with the business units to facilitate board-staff interaction; development of a succession plan for the association’s staff leadership; and increased environmental scanning. Regarding the latter, there is strong support among Board members to more effectively utilize the House of Delegates (HOD) in surfacing and discussing issues of importance to the profession.

We were updated on the Strategy Management Process (SMP) and the progress made toward better serving our members. Excellent progress has been made on the digital strategies (both internal and external/marketing), and an integrated marketing plan is in development in cooperation with the business units and guided by the SMP. The AVMF’s new director, Debborah Harp, was introduced, and we’re looking forward to seeing the Foundation move forward with its new leadership. Our sincere thanks go to Dr. Cheryl Eia, who pulled ‘double duty’ for the last few months to keep the Foundation moving forward.

We received updates on the AVMA’s financial health (all is well!), ongoing AVMF efforts, the AAVMC’s 50th anniversary, and activities of the Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative.

We were updated on the Advisory Panel Pilot program, and discussed items that we will request they address – including telemedicine. Regarding telemedicine, the board will instruct the (pilot) Practice Advisory Panel to seek input from the HOD and insurance trusts in addition to member channels. We also need to keep in mind that recommendations regarding telemedicine could impact the Model Veterinary Practice Act and Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics. You’ll be seeing more information about the advisory panel pilot very soon, including opportunities for providing your input.

As requested by the HOD, Resolution 8-2015 (Policy on Veterinary Pharmacology Education for Pharmacists) was referred to the Council on Biologic & Therapeutic Agents for further review with background information. Similarly, Resolution 9-2015 (Revised Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics) was referred to the Judicial Council.

We elected members to the vacant positions in the Convention Education Program Committee, and we’re looking forward to a great convention next summer. Dr. Molly McAllister was elected chair, Dr. Christine O’Rourke was elected to chair-elect, and Dr. John Sanders was elected section manager of professional development.

Contingent upon a written request from the New York State Veterinary Medical Society, we approved the preparation of an amicus brief regarding recent legislative efforts in New York City that would place restrictions on pet shops. From a veterinary perspective, and for the focus of the brief, the proposed legislation would not allow for a veterinarian’s judgment regarding the decision when to spay or neuter. The preparation of an AVMA amicus brief would be limited in scope to the practice of veterinary medicine.

In the realm of AVMA’s role as a trusted convener, we approved a recommendation for a professional wellness roundtable, and will partner with AAVMC and Michigan State CVM on a student debt/education economic summit. As you’re already aware, both issues are first and foremost in the minds of students and recent grads in particular.

We also held a discussion about opening lines of communication to resolve conflicts with a number of individuals and groups, in the interest of further uniting the profession and moving forward together instead of creating divides that interfere with progress.

We’re pleased to announce that the model animal welfare curriculum development group’s hard work has paid off, and their final report was accepted and will be widely distributed and publicized.

During our environmental scanning breakout sessions and the follow-up group discussion, the board identified some areas of particular interest: increasing the reach of AVMA’s media relations and the utilization of more members and volunteer leaders; improving communication between the board and the HOD; scope of practice and competition from non-veterinarians as well as low-cost/no-cost/not-for-profit clinics; and engaging our members more effectively regarding our advocacy on behalf of the profession.

Sincerely,

Dr. John de Jong, Board of Directors Chair

Dr. Joe Kinnarney, AVMA President

Dr. Tim Montgomery, House Advisory Committee Chair

Dr. Ron DeHaven, AVMA Executive Vice President

10 thoughts on “Board of Directors meeting summary, September 2015

  1. First off, I have a great deal of respect for each and every one of you as individuals. You have given of your time in a professional manner. My criticisms of the AVMA are not meant to be personal, but over the years there has developed a pattern of good individuals becoming “institutionalized” and this has led us to where we are now. The issues with our profession were not caused by you personally, but by others in your place years ago.

    “Just as the AVMA rolled out our new brand and logo this summer in Boston, we would like to recognize a new day at the AVMA. As part of the new day at the AVMA, we would like to foster improved lines of communication”.

    Stop. Where is Jon Stewart when you need him. You rolled out an expensive new logo, with champagne and acrobats, for your own desires. Did you ask your members, those who pay dues, whether or not they wanted this? You did not. Did you look at the responses on the AVMA@work site which showed near unanimous disapproval of this expenditure? This is your “new” day? I am sorry, but by not asking your members and actually ignoring them on this topic, it looks very much like the “old” AVMA. Not the way to foster improved communications.

    Speaking of communications, what did you learn from your “listening” sessions with regard to accreditation?

    “. In general, we feel that we’ve been more effective on an operational level than a strategic level, and that provides opportunity for us to improve and focus on the strategic role.”

    This is not a surprise, as the AVMA has always been fantastic and writing reports, forming task forces, strategic planes, new visions, etc. but has been inept at actually leading .

    “In the realm of AVMA’s role as a trusted convener, we approved a recommendation for a professional wellness roundtable, and will partner with AAVMC and Michigan State CVM on a student debt/education economic summit. As you’re already aware, both issues are first and foremost in the minds of students and recent grads in particular.”

    Does the AVMA really feel that the universities should be part of this discussion? Do they not have a conflict of interest as it relates to tuition costs?

    Do you want to know what the big problem is? The problem is that the AVMA has long forgotten that it was created to exist for its members, and not the other way around.

    Do you want to change the culture? Start with new leadership.

  2. The original purpose of a national DVM organization was to provide a foundation for common goals and success for the MEMBERS. Not the BOD.
    To wit:
    “The board is in the midst of an assessment of our function and efficacy, and we discussed the results so far. Using BoardSource and an experienced consultant, the initial step was to survey the Board and staff leadership and create a scorecard that would help us better evaluate our strengths as well as areas that need improvement. All of our self-assessment ‘grades’ were in the B and C range, which the consultant told us were expected and acceptable at this stage of the review.” This is phraseology for “it took along time to say anything and longer to describe it”.
    Several thousand members could have saved us all a weeks worth of “workshops”, hotel bills, meals and airfare simply for the asking, just to get to the same answer from us. The obvious is often close at hand.
    Veterinarians are in desperate need of employing the force of scale of a group as large as ours. Alone, we are preyed upon by big pharma and the manufacturers who know we have neither the time or resources to fight them as individually.
    A few solid suggestions would be;
    1. Form a buying co-op of all the vets nationally to create a strong negotiating position to combat the extortion ongoing for supplies, equipment and medications. We can hang together or hang alone. Sales of 30,000 digital x-ray machines might be more appealing to the company with the best deal for us??? Same for Rx meds and surgical hardware. Enticing AVMA members that left with this advantage might be one of the best reasons to rejoin.
    2. Trim the waste at the top. I have spent around 20 years ( half of my career ) in academic institutions and additional employment in large corporations and private institutions. If I had a dollar for every worthless hour I spent listening to well meaning administrators, dept heads, lawyer, human resource personnel and pundits tell me how we were going to solve all of our problems, I could have retired years ago. Few of them have both feet in the industry and business experience enough to know they are bound for failure. This is a road paved with golden hopes and not much else. The only meetings I ever attended that accomplished any measurable progress are called “sit down meetings”. Each person comes prepared to share the critical items in a parsed manner and only are allowed ONE MINUTE before they are forced to sit down and shut up. No driveling on by the “experts” who are in love with the sound of their own voice. Week long conventions are not a solution. We are facing more dire problems after 30 years of BOD meetings than ever before.
    3. Get your hands out of your pockets and visit a few hundred AVMA members that pay the bills but don’t bother to volunteer for some5thing that constitutes a black hole. We work for a paycheck and don’t have a week to close the business to go to the directors retreat. Shake few hands, find time to share a cup of coffee and maybe we might have something to share that’s worth listening to on our home turf.
    None of us want to see the AVMA implode, but the governance and financial models of the 1960s and 1970s don’t apply anymore. Risks are greater and leadership is different from management.
    Just saying.

    2.

  3. In an effort to improve communication, I would suggest being a LOT more succinct. We are all busy people. Speak English and tell us your specific goals, and evidence that something concrete has actually been accomplished.

    “We held breakout sessions and set priorities for moving forward, including improving communication with efforts such as this synopsis. We also plan to address the need for better orientation and continued training of board members; better clarification of roles and decision-making parameters between officers, entities and staff; aligning board subcommittees with the business units to facilitate board-staff interaction; development of a succession plan for the association’s staff leadership; and increased environmental scanning”

    This sounds like blah, blah, blah, we thought about maybe thinking about, talking about maybe doing something.

    • By reading this drivel from the AVMA Board of Directors, I am constantly reminded of two great concepts from 20th century literature, doublespeak and the Catch 22. George Orwell and Joseph Heller would not be the least surprised !

  4. Really I am so proud being belong this wonderful association ,always looking for member satisfaction

  5. AVMA was always a pitiful excuse for a professional organization but when blindsided by dropping the health insurance that was the last straw. Just a bunch of whack jobs drawing a check.

  6. “We held breakout sessions and set priorities for moving forward, including improving communication with efforts such as this synopsis. We also plan to address the need for better orientation and continued training of board members; better clarification of roles and decision-making parameters between officers, entities and staff; aligning board subcommittees with the business units to facilitate board-staff interaction; development of a succession plan for the association’s staff leadership; and increased environmental scanning”

    And how is this improving communications with members? I don’t get it. And apparently neither do you. It appears that the AVMA is all about the BOD.