Howell speaks about the economics of veterinary medicine
Dr. Howell, halfway through your tenure as president of the AVMA, what do you believe is the greatest challenge facing the veterinary profession?
Dr. Joe M. Howell,
The most important challenge is improving our economic situation. This is not an option. We must make this change if the profession is going to survive.
Fortunately, the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues is addressing this challenge and we're seeing some wonderful successes.
How are veterinarians responding to the NCVEI efforts?
It's just becoming widespread knowledge, and I'm getting overwhelming appreciation for us addressing those.
In the beginning, there was a misperception that this was about raising veterinary fees, or raising our economic situation, perhaps to have more luxuries. And now it's becoming widely known that we're doing this so veterinarians can graduate from veterinary school, be able to pay off the debts they've incurred, and have some quality of life, and perhaps buy or build a practice.
It's also sinking in that it's about veterinarians being able to expand their practices and offer a higher quality of care, using the new technology and diagnostic equipment available.
It's also about developing the veterinary technician program. If we're going to delegate some important procedures to these professionals, we must be able to get the best and keep the best by compensating them well.
It's also about veterinarians who are not in private practice beginning at a higher pay level, because many times, what they're paid depends on what private practitioners are making. It affects the whole gamut of our profession.
What do you believe is the economic future for the profession, given the work being done by the NCVEI?
I think the future is very bright because the NCVEI is showing real success in elevating the economic base of the profession.
They are looking at all issues that can affect the economic status of our profession-from the type of people we're taking into veterinary schools, to how they are trained, to how they are mentored, and the benchmarking tools they have to build their practices.
They are also addressing all areas of the veterinary profession; they are currently focusing on equine practices and plan to look into food animal practices. Ultimately, all areas of practice will be included.
I think that's very important. We must address all areas of our profession. We must pull everyone up at the same time to truly keep our profession viable.
To read more about Dr. Howell's objectives as AVMA president, see page 132.