September 15, 2010


 Kornegay appeals for professional unity

AVMA president encourages inclusivity, input of
Association members

By R. Scott Nolen 

Posted Sept. 1, 2010 

"As veterinarians, we share a common bond, and I will work over the coming year to strengthen that bond by welcoming everyone's input, by opening my mind to diverse perspectives, by offering guidance when I can, and by helping build unity to mend those fractures."  



Although veterinarians disagree on a number of issues, they must always strive for professional unity through mutual respect, says AVMA President Larry M. Kornegay.

Addressing the AVMA House of Delegates July 30 in Atlanta during its regular annual session, the companion animal practitioner from Houston said veterinarians have never enjoyed greater respect or wielded more influence than they do now—yet fractures within the profession have never been more evident.

Dr. Kornegay cited animal welfare, AVMA accreditation of foreign veterinary colleges, and antimicrobial use in animal agriculture as issues that have sparked controversy among veterinarians.

"My concern is that while we may have never been stronger, we also have potentially never been so divided," he said, and warned that "disunity can have far-reaching, negative impacts on our profession as a whole—from the halls of Congress to the very clients we serve."

Elected to represent Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas on the AVMA Executive Board in 2003, Dr. Kornegay served the Association in various capacities while in that role. He was chosen as vice chair of the board and has chaired the Legislative Advisory Committee and the Executive Vice President Search Committee that brought Dr. W. Ron DeHaven to the AVMA.

AVMA delegates elected Dr. Kornegay as the Association's 2009 president-elect in Seattle last year. He succeeded Dr. Larry R. Corry as AVMA president when the Atlanta convention concluded Aug. 3.

Dr. Kornegay believes veterinarians can overcome their differences by respecting all opinions. He referenced his time on the Executive Board as an example of how unity can prevail, despite disagreement.

"Regardless of the honest debate underlying each vote we take, we emerge with a unified message," Dr. Kornegay said, "because we understand that we are here to represent the profession, not our own personal and individual interests.

"As veterinarians, we share a common bond, and I will work over the coming year to strengthen that bond by welcoming everyone's input, by opening my mind to diverse perspectives, by offering guidance when I can, and by helping build unity to mend those fractures."

Dr. Kornegay challenged the notion that the Executive Board and the AVMA itself are closed off to member input. He cited NOAH—the Association's online discussion group—and the AVMA@Work blog as just two examples among the many channels members can use to express their opinions, which he strongly encouraged members to do.

Much of the incoming president's speech to the HOD was dedicated to the importance of inclusiveness, and Dr. Kornegay pledged himself to increasing opportunities for underrepresented groups to join the veterinary profession.

"It is my goal to foster the process of inclusivity that we have already started, one that has gained significant steam over the past few years, because as we all know, America's neighborhoods are changing when it comes to race, ethnicity, and cultural nuance," said Dr. Kornegay, who chaired the AVMA Diversity Task Force in 2005.

Over the years, Dr. Kornegay's clientele has grown more diverse, so he's hired bilingual employees to better meet their needs. As a result, he says he's more fulfilled and more successful in his practice than ever before. The AVMA is also embracing diversity, according to Dr. Kornegay, noting the Veterinary Diversity Symposium offered during convention as an example of the Association's continuing efforts to be more inclusive.

Diversity means everyone is involved, Dr. Kornegay said, and he pledged to "work tirelessly over the next year to welcome everyone to the table."

Additionally, Dr. Kornegay called on AVMA members to speak with their state and federal representatives regarding policies affecting veterinary medicine. Contributing to the AVMA Political Action Committee and joining the AVMA Congressional Advocacy Network also help the Association advocate on behalf of veterinary medicine, he said.

"No matter which avenue you choose," Dr. Kornegay said, "getting involved will help us plant, nurture, and grow our grassroots efforts and build our base of influence both at home and across the nation."