Dr. Gary S. Brown is running for a second term as AVMA vice president.
The AVMA House of Delegates first elected the small animal practice owner from Princeton, W.Va., to the post in 2008. Dr. Brown is the only candidate for the office, and the HOD will most likely vote him into a second term when it holds its regular annual session this July.
Apart from being a voting member of the Association's Executive Board, the job of the AVMA vice president is to be the AVMA's liaison to the Student AVMA and student chapters. For the past year, Dr. Brown has visited many veterinary schools and colleges to hear straight from students about their issues.
Dr. Brown spoke to JAVMA News about what he's learned about veterinary students and why he's running for a second term.
With your first year as AVMA vice president winding down, what have you learned about veterinary students and their issues?
Dr. Gary S. Brown
Students are looking further into their future with respect to their careers. They are finding out early that they have a magnitude of career options. The students are passionate about their issues and are turning to the AVMA for help and solutions.
Does loan debt remain a top concern?
Loan debt continues to be the main concern for students. Debt from their undergraduate work, rising tuition, and the inflation of the cost of living are all contributing to their debt at graduation. We must ensure there are quality jobs available that will not only pay off school loans but also provide a decent living.
Do most students understand or care about organized veterinary medicine while they're still working on their DVM/VMD degree?
I feel most students recognize there is organized veterinary medicine but may not understand the extent of all the great things these organizations do for them. They are so busy learning that it is difficult to dedicate time to become well-versed in all the organizational aspects.
What do you say to communicate the value of being an AVMA member to them?
During my visits to the veterinary schools, I try to present as many benefits of being an AVMA member as possible. I make sure they know about the grants and scholarships available to them. The importance of AVMA is also reinforced when members of the state VMAs join me for the visits. It becomes more real when someone local is involved.
What sorts of things are students saying about the AVMA?
Students are asking for the AVMA to help with their concerns. They know the AVMA can be there for guidance even if they don't understand all the details of the organization.
What do you think of the Executive Board's efforts to strengthen ties between the AVMA and veterinary students?
This is the dream of any AVMA vice president. The Executive Board is looking forward to being more involved with students. I also think students will appreciate the increased presence.
Should more be done? such as?
The Executive Board itself has already begun to be present in student activities such as the SAVMA Educational Symposium. Students are formulating ideas where AVMA can better support them.
At the April board meeting, doubts were raised about the Association's continued support for the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Experience. What's your opinion on this?
The budget crunch is affecting all aspects of the AVMA. Support for many activities was scrutinized during the budget portion of the April board meeting. The original support for the Veterinary Leadership Experience was for four years with the concept that this would be enough time to have the program doing well and sustaining itself. The Executive Board has to critically evaluate how AVMA membership's money is distributed and the numbers of students and members who benefit from each program.
What do you want to accomplish in your second year as vice president?
Providing I get elected to a second term, I feel more comfortable building on the new relationships I have made over the last year. I have hopes of introducing every veterinary student to all the AVMA benefits available to them. I want to be instrumental in helping the Executive Board accurately guide our great profession through difficult times and be the association our members expect us to be.