A contingent of veterinary students 382 strong (compared with last year's 274) enhanced the AVMA Annual Convention in Denver. The students spent the week attending continuing education sessions, visiting the exhibits, networking, socializing, and acting on measures before the Student AVMA House of Delegates.
The students could take much-deserved breaks from the flurry of convention activity at the Nestle Purina Student Lounge, created expressly for them in the convention center. There, they could sit back and chat with their peers in a casual setting, enjoy a complimentary daily luncheon, and munch on salty snacks and Nestle candy. Paige Salveter, program manager for Nestle Purina, said many students frequented the lounge, enjoying the beverages and a place to "hang out." Board games and contests were available to help students relax between sessions. They could even indulge themselves in a free 10-minute massage while listening to music videos. The sponsor gave each student gifts and drew a student's name each evening for a personal digital assistant.
The SAVMA House of Delegates, composed of two representatives from every veterinary college in the United States, as well as two each from the Atlantic Veterinary College (Prince Edward Island), Ross University (St. Kitts), and St. George's University (Grenada), congregated from July 19-21. This body of delegates represents more than 10,000 veterinary students and is the link between veterinary students and the AVMA.
The SAVMA HOD passed a newly revised and clarified Constitution, Bylaws, and Manual. This was no small feat, as the past SAVMA executive boards spoke via monthly and, more recently, weekly conference calls and several in-person meetings during the past year and a half to reorganize more understandable and usable documents for the entire SAVMA organization.
One of the SAVMA HOD's main emphases is the importance of facilitating open communication between delegates and SAVMA chapter presidents at their respective colleges. This will help them stay better informed on local and national issues.
The SAVMA HOD has nine committees that meet the afternoons following the conclusion of the general house business. The committees accomplished several tasks. The Animal Welfare-Human Animal Bond Committee finished developing an animal welfare survey that is to be completed by veterinary students, established application guidelines for two scholarship awards, and initiated ideas for the creation of a Web site that will be accessible by all SAVMA members for updates on animal welfare issues.
The Emerging Issues Committee discussed development of a survey to ask students what the most effective way would be to deliver new, important information. Results of a wellness survey completed by veterinary students this past year were discussed, as well as submissions for an essay contest, "How Technology is Changing Veterinary Medicine."
The Education and Licensure Committee has delegates who act as liaisons in meetings conducted by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, and the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. They compiled and disseminated results of a survey taken by the class of 2003 regarding their experiences with the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination.
The Governmental Affairs Committee is informing students about H.R. 1367, the National Veterinary Medical Service Act, a loan-forgiveness program for veterinary students that is presently before the House of Representatives. The committee is also trying to increase the number of veterinary students who are registered to vote.
The International Veterinary Student Association continues efforts to facilitate exchanges between foreign and American veterinary students.
The Multicultural Student Affairs Committee has begun planning of an outreach program to promote the veterinary profession to high school and undergraduate students. The committee provides awards to veterinary students who promote diversity and multiculturalism within the profession. The committee also maintains communication between minority students and the AVMA.
The Native American Project reviewed and improved the procedure for arranging an externship with one of the four veterinary clinics within the Navajo Nation. Project members also updated the SAVMA Web site with a revised brochure and awarded several stipends to students who have completed the externship.
The Public Relations Committee has a student liaison to the AVMA Council on Public Relations. They created a Public Relations CD-ROM for all delegates to present to their SAVMA chapter members. This committee also awards the prestigious Teaching Excellence Awards, which were given to Drs. Anna Dee Fails and Souvigny Salisbury at the AVMA General Session (see page 765).
The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine will host the next SAVMA Symposium in March 2004. The symposium committee will be posting all updates to its Web site: www.vet.utk.edu/savma. The symposium is a yearly opportunity for veterinary students from across the country to get together for educational opportunities via lectures, wet labs, and social events.
Funding was made possible for one or two delegates to attend the "Global Veterinary Opportunities and Responsibilities Workshop," Jan. 4-6, 2004. Delegates were asked to give a 15-minute presentation answering the questions "What can the profession do to rebuild Iraq?" and "What could the profession accomplish with $500,000,000?" The workshop sponsors are the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges; the Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services, Professional Development Staff; and the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps.
Prior to the conclusion of the SAVMA HOD, the new SAVMA Executive Committee was installed. Congratulations are extended to SAVMA President Tim Paul, University of Tennessee; Secretary Amy Poulin, University of Pennsylvania; Treasurer Jennifer Burggraf, University of Illinois; Intervet Editor Lily Su, University of California; and International Exchange Officer-Elect Nicole Scott, Colorado State University. They will join previously installed Information Technology Officer Terri Sympson, University of Missouri, and International Exchange Officer Liz Nix, University of Florida.