Dr. Larry M. Kornegay, AVMA president, responds:
As AVMA president, you have been advocating for professional unity. Why and how are you spreading that message?
We're a small profession, and unity is critical if we're going to remain relevant to our clients, our neighbors, and our fellow citizens. That message is something I carry to high school students and preveterinary students who are just contemplating veterinary medicine all the way through to some of our senior members who are retired and stepping down from active practice.
One of the major platforms of my campaign that I've maintained throughout is the case for diversity and inclusion and how I see the racial, ethnic, and cultural makeup of our profession reflecting less and less the population of the United States as a whole. Embracing inclusion and all the things that go with it has a lot to do with maintaining unity and relevance as a profession.
We're really too small a profession to splinter and divide. We can have our differences, and we're certainly never going to agree on all issues, but coming to consensus and compromising when we must is essential for the betterment of the whole.
What are a few ways in which the AVMA is promoting diversity?
We've incorporated many of the findings of the AVMA Diversity Task Force's 2006 report into our strategic planning, objectives, and tactics. That keeps diversity in front of staff and our volunteers.
There are a number of AVMA communications aids that promote inclusivity. Our career DVD, "Veterinary Medicine: It's More Than You Think," is excellent and very diverse. We have translated all of our brochures into Spanish.
We participated in the 18th Iverson Bell Symposium on diversity in March during the conference of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. In July, we're going to have our seventh annual Veterinary Diversity Symposium at the AVMA Annual Convention in St. Louis.
How have you been encouraging member engagement with the AVMA and professional affairs?
What I try to relate to members, particularly members my age, is that the AVMA is communicating electronically. So if you changed your e-mail address or we do not have your e-mail address, please go to the website and update your information.
The example I've been using recently is the e-mail we sent out asking members' opinions on the AVMA Model Veterinary Practice Act, our strategic planning goals, and the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium draft report. We need your comments; we need your input.
I think there are a lot of people who have concerns and just don't express them, or they do with their friends down the street or with their spouse. Typically, involvement follows an issue that's close to your heart or the way you practice. You need to be aware of what's happening in our profession. Read the journals, talk to your colleagues. Get opinions and reactions from clients if you're in private practice.
If you go to Washington, D.C., go by the AVMA Governmental Relations Division office or call them. They may be able to facilitate an appointment with your legislator or at least a staff person, and you can tell them about all of the issues back home.
At another level of involvement, we have hundreds of members volunteering on AVMA entities—the House of Delegates, Executive Board, councils, committees, insurance trusts, and task forces and commissions. If you have the time and the inclination and the expertise, volunteer for one of those.
Have you enjoyed your travels as president?
I really enjoy visiting with colleagues and being current on what's happening within organized veterinary medicine at all levels. I also enjoy going to different state VMA meetings, visiting our veterinary colleges, and attending regional and species-related meetings. Our profession is very varied in so many ways—the different species of animals we treat and the many opportunities we have in veterinary medicine.