Economics, mentoring are candidates' key issues
During the annual Candidates' Introductory Breakfast, July 18, AVMA Executive Board member Dr. Henry E. Childers announced his candidacy for 2004-2005 AVMA president-elect. Also, Dr. René A. Carlson, Wisconsin's representative to the House of Delegates, declared her intent to seek the AVMA vice presidency.
As well as representing District I on the Executive Board, Dr. Childers owns a small animal practice and is assistant clinical professor at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. A 1954 graduate of Auburn University, he is a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners and former president of the AAHA, Rhode Island VMA, and New England VMA.
In his remarks, Dr. Childers stressed the importance of continuity in leadership to the success of an organization, and he pledged to support ongoing initiatives.
The number one issue facing the veterinary profession is the economy, Dr. Childers said. The success of the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues has exceeded everyone's expectations, he said, noting that more than 5,000 veterinary hospitals have used the commission's benchmarking tools.
Great progress has been made to improve economics of small animal practitioners, and, later this year, the NCVEI will begin delivering programs for equine practitioners. Work must begin soon on addressing specific needs of food animal practitioners, Dr. Childers said.
Another of Dr. Childers' priorities is mentoring programs for veterinarians in the early stages of their career, from undergraduates to recent graduates.
Dr. Childers highlighted the importance of the AVMA's ongoing efforts to enhance communication to the public and AVMA members. Equally important is maintaining the veterinary profession's "wonderful relationship" with society, he said.
He also iterated his support of the AVMA Council on Education's accreditation efforts. "It is critical to the future of veterinary medicine and to the value of our license to practice that the entry-level standards of the AVMA Council on Education be maintained," he said.
In closing, Dr. Childers explained, "Our diversity and esoteric knowledge are a strength but, on occasion, can be a challenge," he said. "We must be ever aware that we are a small profession and to maximize our effectiveness, we must speak with a single, unified voice."
Dr. Carlson received her DVM degree from the University of Minnesota in 1978 and now owns her own small animal practice. She has been highly active in organized veterinary medicine and was honored as the Wisconsin Veterinarian of the Year in 2001. In 1994, Dr. Carlson was president of the Wisconsin VMA.
Her encounters with struggling veterinary students and recent graduates were part of what prompted Dr. Carlson to run for AVMA vice president. "I decided I want to be part of their support network," she explained. "I want to contribute to making that transition easier, to lessen the stress, enhance the positive, and help with their success."
If elected vice president, Dr. Carlson pledged to follow in the footsteps of current AVMA vice president, Dr. Thomas R. Kendall.
She applauds the efforts of NCVEI, the Auxiliary to the AVMA, and the AVMA to relieve student debt load—efforts critical to the future of the veterinary profession. "We must continue to creatively work on solutions for managing debt or we will lose some brilliant people purely because they can't afford veterinary school," Dr. Carlson said.
Like Dr. Childers, Dr. Carlson backs the AVMA's development of a model mentorship program.
Dr. Carlson credited her 26 years of marriage to Dr. Mark Carlson, a large animal practitioner and laboratory diagnostician, for providing her with a broad perspective of the veterinary profession. "I have seen large animal practice from a spousal perspective, and as a small animal associate in two mixed practices, including equine," she noted.
As other qualifications for office, Dr. Carlson cited her enthusiasm for the profession, love for meeting and helping people, and the fact she is a good listener and learner.
"If given this rare opportunity," Dr. Carlson said, "I promise I will make every effort to support the people who are our profession's future so they, too, can proudly carry on our professional duty to help the animals and all the people who interact with them."