Veterinary Medicine’s Changing Face

Dear Colleagues,

You'll notice some changes to this month's issue of AVMA@Work, and you – our readers – can take the credit. We surveyed a random sampling of subscribers, and you told us you would like to see some shortcuts and visual cues that would make our e-newsletter easier to read and navigate. So, wasting no time, we got right to it, and included some of them in this month's edition. Look for more improvements in the near future. If you didn't partake in the survey and have suggestions, please e-mail us at Happy reading!


An association is only as strong as its membership, and that is certainly true here at the AVMA. Likewise, the relevancy of an association to its members and the interests it represents relies heavily on whose voice is heard and how diverse those voices are. Therein lies one of our biggest challenges today: Diversity.

There is no doubt that the makeup of the veterinary profession is changing. Take, for instance, the obvious trend in gender. A survey published in the Oct. 15, 2008, edition of the JAVMA reflects the ongoing change we are seeing at our veterinary colleges and schools, with the 2008 graduating class being about 77 percent female. Even our AVMA membership reflects the new reality, with women making up the majority of our membership under the age of 50. We also have a lot of young folks in the profession, with veterinarians under 50 representing about 60 percent of our voting members.

If we are to maintain our relevancy as an association, we need to recruit more young people onto our committees, councils and task forces. We need to see more women in leadership positions – as AVMA officers and Executive Board members. We especially need to focus on underrepresented groups, because if we are to advance our profession economically, we need to become more ethnically diverse to meet the needs of a changing society. If we are going to effectively protect public health, we need to get more culturally and linguistically diverse veterinarians on the frontlines.

These challenges will not be addressed overnight, but improving gender, generational and ethnic diversity is an issue that is clearly on the AVMA's radar and is highlighted in recent JAVMA coverage. (You can find the articles in JAVMA News under the Professional Issues section.) Our leadership recognizes the importance of diversity, and they are willing to put into place tangible initiatives to address this issue. This journey will not happen overnight, but we will keep you posted on our progress.

Get Involved

A great way to diversify the AVMA in thought and opinion is to fill our volunteer entities with people who are ready and willing to help make a difference in the profession. If you have an interest in shaping the future of veterinary medicine, why not consider one of the many positions we are seeking to fill. We don't require much in terms of time, and the return on investment will be huge for both you as an individual and the veterinary profession as a whole. If you're interested, check out the JAVMA article that spells it all out for you.

Livestock Health

The AVMA was back on Capitol Hill recently, as Dr. Christine Hoang, assistant director of the Scientific Activities Division, testified before a Congressional subcommittee on the critical role veterinarians play in improving animal and human health, particularly in the area of food safety. Following on the heels of June testimony by Dr. Lyle Vogel on antibiotic resistance and the use of antimicrobials, Dr. Hoang's testimony reiterated the importance of antibiotic use in maintaining animal health.

MRSA Backgrounder

We've all heard of it, and some of us, undoubtedly, have had to deal with it. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus has become an increasingly urgent problem in veterinary medicine, and it's grabbing headlines around the country. When you and your clients have questions about MRSA, turn to our Web site for a brand new AVMA backgrounder on the bacteria. Produced primarily with your questions in mind, the backgrounder also includes an FAQ for the public and an informational resource for human healthcare professionals. This is just one of many backgrounders you can find in our online Reference Section, which is designed to give you easy access to scientific information on topics such as animal welfare, microchipping and animal health issues.

Speaking of our Web site, if you have one of your own, why not consider linking to us so that you can provide even more veterinary information and resources to your clients? Take a look. Wander around. See what we have to offer.

Animal Tracks

You're all about educating your clients when it comes to their pets, and the same can be said for your association. Our goal is to put as many educational tools into your hands as possible. But today's consumers learn in many new and different ways. We introduced our podcast series, AVMA Animal Tracks, back in July as a way to share pet-care tips and advice from our vast pool of experts. It's a new way to reach your clients through their computers and their portable media players. You can even download the podcasts and add them to your own Web site. Check it out. The latest topic, behavioral preventative health programs for pets, adds to a growing list of topics ranging from tips on choosing a family pet to animal acupuncture and canine aggression toward children.

Pet Brochures

Has anyone ever asked you what type of pet might be best for their family? Have you ever been hit with "How hard is it to raise a ferret?" or "My daughter wants a bunny. What are they like as pets?" If so, one place both you and your clients can turn is the Products section of our Web site. We've just added two more brochures – "What you should know about selecting a rabbit" and "What you should know about selecting a ferret" to our existing stable of other "What you should know" brochures. When you visit the site, you'll find more than two dozen brochures that are available to you in a variety of formats, including a version that you can print out and immediately hand to your client.

In closing, we'd like to thank all of our subscribers for making this first year of AVMA@Work a success. As we hit the one-year anniversary, we're extremely satisfied that you've chosen to stay connected. We sincerely hope you'll continue to find AVMA@Work interesting and valuable.


Cook signature DeHaven signature
James O. Cook, DVM
W. Ron DeHaven, DVM, MBA
Executive Vice President

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