By: Dr. Mark Helfat, Board of Directors Chair; Dr. Tom Meyer, AVMA President; Dr. David Ylander, House Advisory Committee Chair; Dr. Ron DeHaven, outgoing AVMA Executive Vice President; Dr. Janet Donlin, AVMA Executive Vice President
The AVMA September Board of Directors meeting was heavy on strategic discussion, with your volunteer leaders spending significant time over the course of two days focusing on how they as a Board can best serve and meet member needs. From addressing issues that affect you as a professional to the challenges our veterinary students face, AVMA Board members were engaged and focused on some of the profession’s top issues.
Follow-up discussions related to the topics raised at our first-ever Veterinary Information Forum in August helped both the Board and AVMA staff focus our efforts in areas of significant member interest. The forum focused on three issues shared with AVMA House of Delegates representatives that our members said are top-of-mind today. They are: cyberbullying, student debt and what the AVMA is doing for our colleagues who practice large-animal medicine.
The fact that our members face cyberbullying is nothing new to us, but we are focusing more energy on educating you about it and how you can deal with its effects. The AVMA has been addressing cyberbullying in the profession for some time, and we have many resources available to you on our website. In an effort to increase your understanding of cyberbullying and how you can prevent and address it, we are embarking on an effort to broaden dissemination of AVMA cyberbullying resources, as well as coordinating development of additional resources with our insurance trusts – AVMA LIFE and the PLIT.
You’ve read plenty about how the AVMA and many of our allied groups and other partners are working together to address the issue of veterinary student debt. Several working groups formed to address the many facets of the student debt issue are working now to develop strategies and tactics, and the AVMA Board will receive a progress report at its November meeting.
Finally, when it comes to ways the AVMA can better support our large-animal veterinary colleagues, the association is working on a variety of efforts, including enhancing knowledge of AVMA resources related to large-animal practice, providing information on AVMA staff members with an expertise in the field, and updating online information relevant to large-animal practice.
The Board also agreed that a follow-up meeting to our “Dialogue in Dallas” is appropriate and necessary to continue developing and seizing opportunities for AVMA leadership to connect directly with members to allow open communication and feedback. The AVMA Board and the association’s senior leadership are committed to continuing the dialogue, and we are exploring the possibility of hosting another group discussion during the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas in March.
Diversity, inclusion and wellness were also topics of discussion. In an effort to best tackle these important issues, the Board instructed key AVMA staff members to review staffing needs for 2017 and beyond to ensure that the strategic areas of diversity, inclusion and wellness have sufficient oversight through a high-level staff position with the appropriate authority to be accountable for the association’s forward progress in these areas.
Moving on to the business portion of the agenda, the Board:
- Approved changes to the AVMA Board Manual, including revisions to the election process for Board district directors (more on this in a future AVMA@Work blog post)
- Approved revisions to and reaffirmation of several AVMA policies
- Approved a Joint Statement on Humane Dog Population Management
- Approved sponsorship of the Veterinary Leadership Experience
- Approved the transfer of Student Chapters of the AVMA (SCAVMA) to chapters of the Student AVMA (SAVMA), and
- Approved a reconfiguration of the AVMA work space at its headquarters in suburban Chicago, Ill.
The Joint Statement on Humane Dog Population Management will be used by World Animal Protection (WAP) to produce educational materials and advance projects consistent with WAP and AVMA policies on dog bite prevention and One Health. WAP plans to actively promote the recommendations captured in this statement, including AVMA policies and approaches to dog population management based upon the high standards of veterinary care embodied by the AVMA.
The sponsorship of the Veterinary Leadership Experience allows veterinary students, veterinary school faculty members, private practitioners, veterinary technicians and other stakeholders to attend this leadership development program. The AVMA Board approved a three-year sponsorship program at $25,000 per year.
The transfer of SCAVMA to SAVMA will streamline the current organizational structure between SCAVMA and SAVMA, and eliminate the confusion between the two organizations. Transferring all of the SCAVMAs to SAVMA creates one organizational entity, simplifying and unifying the presence of organized veterinary medicine for students.
The AVMA is fortunate to have a membership that crosses the veterinary spectrum, and our volunteer entities rely on that breadth of diversity and the expertise of our members to formulate policy and address issues of interest. With that in mind, the Board appointed several AVMA members to our newly created AVMA Committee on Antimicrobials. The appointees are:
- Drs. Erin Frey, Charles Hofacre, Terry Lehenbauer, Steeve Giguere, Janet Whaley, Joni Scheftel, Virginia Fajt, Jennifer Wishnie and Tina Parker as primary representatives; and Drs. Lindsay Wright, Randall Singer, David Smith, Mark Papich, Patricia Gaunt, Michele Jay-Russell, Paul Plummer, Peter Davies and Erin Phipps as alternate representatives.
The Board also recognized Dr. Ron DeHaven upon his retirement as AVMA executive vice president/chief executive officer and formally elected Dr. Janet Donlin as new AVMA executive vice president/CEO. Congratulations to both Drs. DeHaven and Donlin!