The Executive Board has authorized a $15,000 increase to the annual stipend for an AVMA Congressional or Executive Branch fellow, beginning in August 2005. By offering a $65,000 stipend to cover living expenses in Washington, D.C, the AVMA fellowship program should be even more attractive to qualified applicants.
The Legislative Advisory Committee submitted the recommendation after exploring several options for boosting the number of applicants. Sixteen veterinarians applied for the three fellowship positions in 2002 when the stipend was $50,000. But that number fell sharply in the following two years, down to just five applicants for the three positions in 2004.
Originally, the recommendation was for a $10,000 stipend increase, but the Executive Board amended the proposal to $15,000.
A related recommendation the board approved reduces the number of AVMA fellows from three to two in cases when there are fewer than 15 qualified applicants, beginning with the 2005-2006 fellowship year. The board will determine whether one fellow is placed in the Executive Branch and the other in Congress, or both with Congress.
Executive Board members Drs. Jacky R. Horner and David L. McCrystle submitted the initial plan to reduce the fellowships from three to two with the intent that some of the cost savings would be passed on to increase the stipend for the two remaining fellows.
Immediate past AVMA president, Dr. Jack O. Walther, introduced an amendment that would allow three fellows to be selected if the pool of qualified applicants were 15 or more.
Also approved by the board was an LAC recommendation providing for the Executive Branch fellow to be placed within the Department of Homeland Security, starting with the 2005-2006 fellowship year.
If such an assignment isn't possible, then the fellow is to serve in the Department of Health and Human Services.
Several advantages of an AVMA fellow working in the DHS were identified by the Legislative Advisory Committee. For instance, the department is highly visible and well-funded, which would allow flexibility in a fellow's projects.
Finally, the board adopted the following policy concerning Congressional and Executive Branch fellows:
The AVMA Congressional and Executive Branch Fellows shall not serve on any AVMA or constituent organization legislative bodies, council, committees, task forces, or hold any AVMA or constituent organization offices while serving as an AVMA Congressional or Executive Branch Fellow.
The policy, recommended by the LAC, is intended to maintain the fellowship program's reputation, integrity, and educational purpose by ensuring that the fellows are free agents and that their only responsibility is to the congressional or executive branch office in which they work.