Posted August 15, 2005
"Hitch your wagon to a star!" proclaimed Dr. Charles M. Hendrix, the 2006 AVMA vice presidential candidate, during the Candidates' Introductory Breakfast July 15 in Minneapolis.
Dr. Hendrix, a professor in the Pathobiology Department at Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine, adopted the words of poet Ralph Waldo Emerson as his campaign slogan and, if elected, as a teaching tool for veterinary students. Currently, he is the only candidate for AVMA vice president.
The five-pointed star is the capstone of his campaign, Dr. Hendrix explained, with each point representing an important message. The points are commitment to leadership skills, society, communication skills, health and wellness issues, and interdisciplinary collaboration.
Recalling the experience of having worked for two U.S. representatives and in the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress in 2002-2003, the former AVMA Congressional Science Fellow recommended the fellowship, especially to young veterinarians.
"I challenge our veterinary students to always be thinking about careers in politics—making a real difference to society," said Dr. Hendrix, who also praised the Veterinary Leadership Experience he attended this past June.
The veterinary profession is a giving profession, and as such, veterinarians must be careful not to let their career consume them. "If one goes all the way with veterinary medicine, one will implode," Dr. Hendrix warned. "That is why I encourage all veterinary students to embrace the veterinary vocation, but also have an avocation to take your mind off veterinary medicine."
Whether showing dogs or volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, any veterinary- or nonveterinary-related activity will suffice. "Whatever it is, give back to society," he said.
Veterinarians also need to possess excellent communication skills. As the veterinary representative to the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary's Award for Innovations in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention writing competition, Dr. Hendrix has encouraged his students at Auburn to enter the contest. Since 1999, the students have won in excess of $50,000 in prize money, he added.
A former chair of the AVMA Committee on Wellness, Dr. Hendrix is an advocate of healthy living, recommending that veterinarians eat right and exercise for at least 30 to 45 minutes daily. "My hope for students and new veterinary professionals is for them to be very conscious of the importance of their health and well-being," he said.
Dr. Hendrix supports veterinarians collaborating with other health care professionals. Veterinarians must be proactive and not wait to be asked to participate in local health care situations and interactions, he said. The beneficiaries of such efforts will be two-legged and four-legged patients, all health care practitioners, and the discipline of public health.
"Veterinarians," he said, "must share their professional capabilities, training, clinical skills, and scientific expertise with policy makers and implementers across the U.S. and throughout the world."