By: Dr. Mark Helfat, Board of Directors Chair; Dr. Tom Meyer, AVMA President; Dr. David Ylander, House Advisory Committee Chair; Dr. Janet Donlin, AVMA Executive Vice President
From telehealth, volunteer engagement, diversity and inclusion, to the upcoming launch of a mobile app for the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, your AVMA Board of Directors tackled a full agenda during its regular spring meeting April 6-8.
After receiving input from more than 100 AVMA members and stakeholder groups on a report compiled by the AVMA Practice Advisory Panel, the Board approved a focused telehealth action plan of AVMA activities for 2017-18. The plan will help advance veterinary medicine through AVMA leadership in veterinary telehealth policy, advocacy and education. The action plan identifies guidance for members and policy-makers as the highest priorities for 2017 and 2018, with a primary focus on ensuring AVMA members are well supported and primed for success when delivering veterinary telehealth services to their patients and clients.
We envision partnering with key stakeholders – particularly the Veterinary Medical Association Executives and the American Association of Veterinary State Boards – to achieve the goals outlined in the plan.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of our association. Their dedicated efforts are invaluable to the success and relevancy of the AVMA and the fulfillment of our mission to lead the profession by advocating for our members and advancing the science and practice of veterinary medicine to improve animal and human health. As part of our ongoing efforts to enhance the effectiveness and satisfaction of AVMA volunteers, the Board agreed to form a new Working Group on Volunteer Engagement. This group will be tasked with looking at how AVMA can most efficaciously utilize our volunteers’ talents and time in support of member priorities, while ensuring a fulfilling volunteer experience. Members of the group will include representatives from the AVMA House of Delegates and Governance Performance Review Committee, as well as a former chair or member of a committee or council, a former student AVMA president, and an executive director of a veterinary association.
Diversity and Inclusion Policy
Speaking of the critical importance of recognizing diversity, the AVMA Board approved a revised AVMA Policy on Diversity and Inclusion. This new version of the policy is now consistent with our Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics and reinforces the importance of diversity and inclusion in ensuring access to veterinary care for all segments of the U.S. population.
The policy reads: “The AVMA is committed to diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the profession of veterinary medicine so that we can best serve the animals, the public, and our members. Our goal is to mirror the growing diversity of the communities we serve and to promote an understanding of their varied needs. To this end, we are committed to actively promoting and maintaining diversity and inclusion in our membership, leadership, and organization, and educating our members regarding the value of diversity and inclusion. This commitment embraces the value of the many areas of the veterinary profession, and the value of our members’ and their clients’ varied backgrounds, including but not limited to race; ethnicity; physical and mental abilities, gender, sexual orientation; gender identity or expression; parental, marital, or pregnancy status; religious or political beliefs; military or veteran status; and geographic, socioeconomic, and educational backgrounds.”
Our members have told us that a mobile version of JAVMA is both desirable and needed in this age of smartphones and tablets. We heard you, and we’re excited to announce that the AVMA is developing a mobile app that will allow subscribers to access JAVMA content through their mobile devices. We’re hoping for a July launch of the app, but we’ll keep you posted as things progress.
Standardized Chart of Accounts
As part of our ongoing efforts to provide valuable member products and services, the AVMA Board agreed to endorse the American Animal Hospital Association/Veterinary Working Groups Chart of Accounts. The AVMA’s Veterinary Economics Strategy Committee recognized the need for a standardized chart of accounts to be used by and for the veterinary profession.
We know that practices want and need to compare their performance to industry standards, but these standards can’t be developed without a standard method for aggregating practice data into specific measures. There are currently several methods for aggregating financial data that prevent the accumulation of aggregate data of sufficient practices to enable industry standards to be developed.
Through the Economic Advisory Research Council’s Practice Finance Research Group, the major entities that currently employ a common chart of accounts for their member practices have agreed to a single standard chart of accounts (the AAHA/VMG Chart of Accounts) for all U.S. companion animal practices. While this standard chart of accounts is currently developed only for companion animal medicine, it may be adapted for all other types of practice.
The final AAHA/VMG standard chart of accounts will be available on the AAHA web page around June 1. The standard chart of accounts provides guidelines for aggregating costs and revenues in general companion animal practices into specific cost and revenue categories to enable practices to compare their financial performance, in each category, with profession-wide measures. The standard chart of accounts will also enable the aggregation of practice information into the development of those profession-wide measures. The AAHA, Veterinary Study Groups, Inc., VetPartners and Veterinary Hospital Managers Association boards have also endorsed the chart of accounts.
Cuban Veterinary Delegation
The changing political landscape between the United States and Cuba is an opportunity for us to reach out to our veterinary colleagues to strengthen relationships and explore development of mutually beneficial and cooperative exchange programs for Cuban and U.S. veterinarians. To that end, the Board agreed to financially support a Cuban veterinary delegation’s visit to the 2017 AVMA Annual Convention and governance meetings July 20-25 in Indianapolis. AVMA President Dr. Tom Meyer and AVMA District IV Board Director Dr. Jose Arce recently traveled to Cuba to meet with representatives of the national Cuban veterinary association and key regional associations. The success of this inaugural meeting serves as a precursor to what we hope is the establishment of a relationship with our Cuban neighbors and colleagues to better protect animal, public and environmental health across our two nations.
Policies and House of Delegates
The Board took action on more than two dozen policies, two of which were referred to the AVMA House of Delegates for consideration by our state and allied groups. A proposed Policy on Therapeutic Use of Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine; and a proposed Policy on the Veterinarian’s Role in Supporting Appropriate Selection and Use of Service, Assistance and Therapy Animals were both referred with recommendations for approval.
In related House of Delegates news, the AVMA House Advisory Committee, which acts in a leadership capacity to the House of Delegates and which met at the conclusion of the AVMA Board meeting, also confirmed four topics that will be considered during the upcoming Veterinary Information Forum in July. House members will be soon be reaching out to their constituents asking them to provide comments about marijuana therapies for animals; application and definition of the veterinary-client-patient relationship; prescription monitoring programs and opioid prescribing; and the veterinarian’s role in supporting appropriate selection and use of service, assistance and therapy animals. The Veterinary Information Forum is a way for the full House to focus on critical issues facing veterinary medicine – issues that AVMA members have indicated are important to them and to the profession.
Wrapping things up, we’d like to congratulate the following people who were elected to AVMA volunteer entities. Thank you for your commitment and service to your colleagues and our profession. The entities and those elected are:
- Animal Welfare Committee: Jodi Wiktorowski, Nancy Suska, Whitney Miller, Leanne Alworth and Philippe Baneux
- Aquatic Veterinary Medicine Committee: Jessica Koppien-Fox, Jessie Sanders and Karen Alroy
- AVMA Life: David Koncal and Renee Schmid
- Clinical Practitioners Advisory Committee: Martha DeWees, Laura Niman, Hector Cervantes, Sarah Giebel, Kimberly Brinton and Donald Stremme
- Committee on Antimicrobials: Erin Frey, Lindsay Wright, Mark Papich, Lauren Schnabel, Virginia Fajt and Paul Plummer
- Committee on Disaster and Emergency Issues: Karie Vander Werf and Patrice Klein
- Committee on Environmental Issues: Marcy Souza, Michael Capel and Karyn Bischoff
- Committee on International Veterinary Affairs: Lee Willingham and Shannon Mesenhowski
- Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities: Elizabeth Thompson, Mary Berg, Kelly Foltz and Sandra Foster
- Convention Education and Planning Committee: Mark Alley
- Council on Education Selection Committee: Douglas Aspros
- Early Career Development Committee: Jeremy Keen, Kristina Baltutis and Emily Tincher
- Food Safety Advisory Committee: Candace Jacobs, Nicole Chevalier and Signe Balch
- Governance Performance Review Committee: Saundra Willis and Will McCauley
- Legislative Advisory Committee: Peter Hellyer, William Fredregill, Kelly Still Brooks, Margaret Masterson, Garry Cowan and James Weber
- Political Action Committee Board: Bernadine Cruz, Eva Evans and Rebecca Stinson
- Professional Liability Insurance Trust: Kent McClure
- State Advocacy Committee: Dan Segna
- Steering Committee on Human-Animal Interactions: Zenithson Ng
- Veterinary Economics Strategy Committee: Camala Bailey, Dawn Burdette and David Gerber
- Liaison – Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums: Esteban Soto
- Liaison – American Association for Laboratory Animal Science: Kristin Evans
- Liaison – Codex Alimentarius Commission Committee on Food Hygiene: Gilbert Patterson
- Liaison – Committee on Psittacosis Control Compendium: Karen Ehnert
- Liaison – NASPHV Committee to Develop a Compendium of Measures to Control Disease and Injury from Contacts with Animals in Public Settings: Eileen Wolfe
- Liaison – North American Councillor to WVA: Cassandra Tansey
- Liaison – One Health Commission Council of Advisors: Mark Starr
- Liaison – Pan American Association of Veterinary Sciences Directive Council: Karen Jacobsen
- Liaison – Working Group on Aquaculture Drugs, Chemicals, and Biologics: Katherine Haman