August 01, 2011

Executive Board

 Group to improve AVMA for young members

Posted July 13, 2011  

The Early Career Development Committee shall:  

  1. Work with AVMA staff to develop resources that will impact AVMA members early in their career
  2. Create networking opportunities for individuals early in their veterinary career within the ECDC Online Veterinary Community
  3. Actively engage recent graduates to elicit discussions and gather feedback for the AVMA on a real-time basis


A group comprising mostly veterinarians within 15 years of graduation will try to improve AVMA services for colleagues early in their careers.  

The nine-member Early Career Development Committee is also intended to reignite interest among those who were involved with the AVMA as students, develop new resources, create networking opportunities, and increase discussion and feedback. The group will include five veterinarians within five years of graduation, two within 5 to 15 years of graduation, a school or college faculty adviser, and a representative from the American Society of Veterinary Medical Association Executives.

In early June, the AVMA Executive Board approved creating the committee and supplying about $24,000 for its first two meetings, which will occur in 2012. The Executive Board chair will appoint the committee members.

The AVMA also plans to hire a new assistant director in its Membership and Field Services Division to work with the new committee.

Dr. Joseph H. Kinnarney, District III Executive Board member and chair of the Task Force on AVMA Programs for Students and Recent Graduates, said 40 to 50 percent of AVMA members are within 15 years of graduation, but such veterinarians fall into the Association's greatest void for outreach. The new committee will try to eliminate that void with services such as a virtual community to aid communication among young members across the country.

"The committee will be actively looking at programs and mechanisms to reach out to this group," Dr. Kinnarney said.

The committee was developed on the basis of comments from the Task Force on AVMA Programs for Students and Recent Graduates, a group formed in April 2010 to review the Association's activities regarding students and recent graduates and identify needs. It was sunset after its report was presented at the Executive Board's meeting a year later.

While the board previously voted to form the committee, that approval was dependent on a concurrent opinion from the AVMA Governance Performance Review Committee, which recommended against creating the new group. A GPRC report to the board states that the new committee appeared to duplicate efforts of the Member Services Committee, and the GPRC expressed concern about a proposal to spend $10,000 on incentives for committee members. Those incentives were dropped from the proposal passed in June.

A report from the Member Services Committee indicates its members disagreed about forming an Early Career Development Committee.

While the AVMA Member Services Committee has developed ideas on ways to serve members, the Early Career Development Committee would consider needs, develop services, and implement those services, Dr. Kinnarney said. He also noted that while the Task Force on AVMA Programs for Students and Recent Graduates recommended that the board consider adding incentives for members of the Early Career Development Committee, the Executive Board decided against that proposal for philosophical reasons.

"We really want people to get involved because they want to be involved, not because they're given incentives to do it," he said.

Dr. René A. Carlson, incoming AVMA president, said students have indicated that they want to better understand the AVMA's value and how they can become more involved. She thinks that increased involvement would increase enthusiasm and participation and replace some apathy and lack of understanding of the AVMA by students not directly involved in the Student AVMA or AVMA student chapter leadership positions. Often, it is people with experience and connections with other leaders who are elected or appointed to AVMA volunteer positions, which young generations may find frustrating.

In comments to the Executive Board, Dr. Carlson noted that the AVMA's 2003 hiring of an assistant director for student affairs was followed by a jump in the number of graduates who elected to become AVMA members, from 92 percent to 96 percent. She supports hiring an assistant director who would work with the Early Career Development Committee and focus on young veterinarians' needs, to help maintain membership.

Dr. Carlson also noted that the AVMA needs to change a perception that its leaders don't represent the changing demographics of the veterinary profession.  

Subscription benefits considered

The board disapproved a recommendation to give complimentary subscriptions to the online versions of JAVMA and AJVR directly to Student AVMA members. The proposal from the Member Services Committee was intended to encourage students to read the AVMA journals early in their careers to benefit their training, increase their connection with the AVMA, encourage use of the AVMA website, and add a new benefit for SAVMA members. 

Students currently have access to the online versions of the journals through their university libraries. The proposal would have given access directly through the AVMA website but was expected to cost about $30,000 in lost revenue.

Membership proposal delayed

The board delayed acting on two proposals that together could expand the number of veterinary students who would more easily gain AVMA membership following graduation. Action on the items was delayed so the board could receive recommendations from the AVMA Bylaws Committee.  

The proposed changes to the AVMA's policy and bylaws were intended to reduce the membership cost for graduates of schools that do not have AVMA student chapters but are represented by SAVMA. This would immediately affect graduates from St. George's University in Grenada and St. Matthew's University in the Cayman Islands.

Passage of the proposal would extend automatic membership to any member in good standing of an organization represented in the SAVMA House of Delegates, rather than only to members of AVMA student chapters.

Current AVMA policy gives free membership for the remainder of the year to graduating veterinarians who are members in good standing of their AVMA student chapter. Those graduates' dues are also reduced by half for the following two years, but other graduates pay reduced dues for the remainder of their graduating year and receive a 50 percent discount on dues for one year. The proposed change was expected to cost the AVMA about $19,000, but it was anticipated the money could be regained through added long-term memberships.