|Dr. Larry M. Kornegay
Sounding a theme of "strength through unity," Dr. Larry M. Kornegay launched his candidacy for 2009 AVMA president-elect at the Candidates' Introductory Breakfast in New Orleans July 18.
The companion animal practitioner and practice owner from Houston was introduced by his wife, Dr. Cecilia L. Kornegay, who represents Texas in the AVMA House of Delegates, which was meeting in New Orleans prior to the AVMA Annual Convention.
With fewer than 100,000 veterinarians nationwide, veterinary medicine is a relatively small profession, making unity among its members critically important, according to Dr. Kornegay. "Just as my family has made me strong, our veterinary family must stay together if we are to remain strong. And to stay strong we must remain united," he said.
Dr. Kornegay has been highly engaged in the AVMA since he was elected in 2003 to represent District VIII (Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas) on the Executive Board. He has served as vice chair of the board and director of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.
The AVMA is an economically healthy association, Dr. Kornegay observed, and its more than 76,000 members represent 86 percent of the veterinarians in the United States.
The Association faces constant challenges, however, from animal rights groups that would redefine societal norms on how animals are used for food, research, and recreation, Dr. Kornegay noted.
He challenged veterinary leaders to stay informed by reading the JAVMA and AVMA News Bytes, participating in continuing education, talking with colleagues, and getting to know their state and federal legislators.
If elected president-elect, Dr. Kornegay, who is chair of the Legislative Advisory Committee, pledged to make the AVMA's legislative agenda a top priority.
In addition, Dr. Kornegay promised to carry on with the One-Health Initiative and to follow through with work on legislation to expand the veterinary workforce begun by AVMA presidents Drs. Roger K. Mahr and Gregory S. Hammer, respectively. "These initiatives fit our strategic planning goals and are critical to our global position promoting animal, human, and environmental health," he said.
The profession's economic viability is another area Dr. Kornegay would focus on. Through the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues, major gains have been made to raise veterinary incomes to values commensurate with the education veterinarians receive. Still more must be done, he said, if veterinary medicine is to remain an appealing career option.
Moreover, the AVMA and others must continue to find ways of helping students manage their debt load, which, Dr. Kornegay noted, on average, exceeds $100,000.
Animal welfare issues will remain a challenge, according to Dr. Kornegay. "We must remain vigilant in addressing these often emotional and complex issues from a commonsense and scientific perspective," he said. "Veterinarians are the animal welfare experts. No group is better prepared from an educational and experience standpoint to deal with these concerns, despite what some would have you believe."