Your veterinary colleagues at work: Delegates address critical issues

From the veterinarian-client-patient relationship, to veterinary consolidation and subsidized medicine, members of the AVMA House of Delegates tackled some of today’s weightiest topics in veterinary medicine during their recent winter meeting.

These critical issues may affect how you deliver services to your patients and clients, and delegates debated these topics during their Veterinary Information Forum Jan. 5-6. The topics were chosen after the AVMA delegates sought from members their thoughts on what issues are top-of-mind, and your input helped shape their discussions and actions.

Dr. Jim Brett, the delegate from Mississippi, addresses his House of Delegates colleagues during the meeting Jan. 6.

The topic of the VCPR was framed around one fundamental question: Should species, practice type, and location impact how the VCPR is defined? After deliberation both in front of the entire House of Delegates and during smaller, group meetings, the consensus was that the definition of the VCPR should not be changed so that it continues to provide the proper flexibility and protection for veterinarians, their patients, and their clients. House members voted overwhelmingly that current VCPR language should be maintained as it presently exists.

When it came to discussions around veterinary consolidation, delegates focused on the impact nationalization could have on national, state, and allied veterinary associations. A common theme throughout the discussion was what effect discounted membership rates for national chains could have on organized veterinary medicine, and whether such discounts leave private practitioners and their associates paying more for the same services. While some state veterinary medical associations offer group discounts, other states have not, concerned about what it could mean to their revenues and the level of services and products they can provide to their members. In the end, delegates unanimously agreed to recommend that the AVMA Board of Directors study membership models based on practice size and ownership, including a financial impact study on member services, and report back to the House of Delegates with an update at the 2018 Annual Session this July.

The delivery of care by not-for-profit entities sparked discussion about the opportunities and challenges presented by the delivery of subsidized veterinary care, and whether this type of service impacts the public perception of veterinary medicine. While delegates shared their opinions on who should provide and who should receive these services, the need for this type of care wasn’t questioned. Ultimately, the House recommended that the AVMA Board direct staff to work with AVMA volunteer leadership and the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators to develop best practices for collaboration between veterinary hospitals and animal welfare organizations, as well as educational resources for the public about the benefits of various models of care. Delegates also asked the AVMA to collect information from state associations, their foundations, and general membership on models that provide veterinary care to underserved populations. 

The House also unanimously approved the AVMA’s Definition of Antimicrobial Stewardship and Core Principles of Antimicrobial Stewardship in Veterinary Medicine. Their adoption is an important first step in fulfillment of the association’s commitment to provide resources and tools for veterinarians that support conscientious decision-making in the use of antimicrobials. You can read more about this new policy in a separate AVMA@Work blog.

In other HOD session news, delegates referred to the AVMA Board a proposed revision to the AVMA Policy on Animal Abuse and Neglect. The delegates asked that the Board and AVMA staff provide guidance on how the policy can best address mandatory reporting with immunity for those who report it.

Finally, the House elected Dr. Scott Dee to the AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents, and delegates also recognized Mr. Jeff Olivarez, the Student AVMA delegate whose term in the House is expiring.

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