Talking Pets – and Pet Health Care

I recently attended my uncle’s 90th birthday party. At this one event, three distant relatives, whom I had never met and who knew I was a veterinarian, asked me questions about their pets. One had a 13 ½-year-old cocker spaniel that had trouble in her rear legs and was wetting the bed, one had an eight-month-old miniature dachshund that was not yet housebroken, and one had a 13-year-old cockapoo who “seemed” healthy and is given garlic as a dietary supplement based on advice from my relative’s customers at the grocery store where she works. None of them visited a veterinarian regularly for their pet’s health-care needs, and yet all these people love their pets dearly.

There is a lot of potential out there for improved health care for pets, and my discussions at my uncle’s party are certainly proof of that. The Partnership for Preventive Pet Healthcare (PPPH) is working to improve the health of pets through increased visits and consultations with veterinarians using the recommended PPPH guidelines. In addition, the AVMA Communications Division has done a great job marketing Make sure you are registered for these new tools to help serve your clients and patients.

Your AVMA Executive Board meets seven times a year to discuss the business of the association and the profession. The meetings are open to AVMA members, and you are welcome to attend. We most recently met April 19-21 at AVMA headquarters, spending two days on strategic planning for the association and one day on the association’s business agenda. The AVMA Executive Board and AVMA staff members work very hard preparing for these meetings and deliberating on your behalf.

Key issues this month included items from the new Veterinary Economics Strategy Committee (VESC). The Executive Board authorized a focused AVMA workforce study that will give us specific information to help us address workforce issues based on accurate and current information. The study is important as we work toward balancing the supply of the veterinary medical workforce with areas of demand for our services. This initiative includes an advisory group that will work with the workforce study vendor to ensure the project proceeds as expected. The VESC also recommended that two of its members sit on the AAVMC Task Force on Educational Debt. As I have mentioned in past President’s Letters, workforce issues and educational debt are of prime importance as we continue to conduct conversations with AAVMC deans about the issues facing veterinary medical education and the veterinary profession. Important progress is being made as we continue to work together to address these challenges and turn them into opportunities.

I am very happy to report that the AVMA has hired an assistant director in the Membership Division to start working with our new and soon-to-be-appointed Early Career Development Committee for recent graduates. We also are excited to really dig into the results of our recently completed Membership Needs Assessment Survey so that we can learn even more about our membership and what we can do to better meet your needs.

We all know that the use of antibiotics in food animals has been in the news recently, and I’d like to assure you that the AVMA Steering Committee for FDA Policy on Veterinary Oversight of Antimicrobials continues to work with the FDA to improve veterinary oversight of antimicrobial use in food animals.

It’s also nice to share with you that the enormous project of redesigning the AVMA website is on schedule and should be launched in August in time for our Annual Convention. I must say that the new website – with all the latest interactive technology and customized access for members – is quite impressive. And speaking of convention, registration is open and we’d love to see you in beautiful San Diego in August. Check out the convention website today for more information and to register today.

In closing, it is imperative that we support our colleagues, no matter what career path they have chosen. We are a diverse group, yet we are all working to improve animal and human health while also advancing our profession. We must be champions for veterinary medicine and champions for each other. We continue to implement strategies to address the issues that are critically important to all of us – economics, education, animal welfare, scientific research and discovery, and AVMA governance – and we welcome and encourage your input. Be sure to watch our AVMA blogs for the most current activities, and let us know what’s on your mind by providing your feedback and comments.

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