April 15, 2012

 

 A lesson in advocacy

Snapshots

 

Veterinary students visit Washington, D.C.
Rep. Smith talks with veterinary students
Right: Rep. Adrian Smith of Nebraska talks with
veterinary students.
Photos by AVMA GRD
 

Veterinary students from across the country gathered Feb. 12-14 in Washington, D.C., for the fourth annual AVMA Student Legislative Fly-In, hosted by the AVMA Governmental Relations Division.

GRD staff briefed students on legislative issues pertaining to the veterinary profession. Students also learned the keys to effective advocacy and the importance of veterinarians talking with legislators about policies affecting animal and human health.

"The fly-in is based in D.C., but the tools presented can be applied to several arenas. An effective advocate can be a voice in their state and local communities as well," said Katie Zatroch, a third-year veterinary student at The Ohio State University.

Students met with Rep. Adrian Smith of Nebraska. The three-term Republican congressman spoke about the importance of students undertaking grassroots advocacy and establishing personal relationships with their congressional offices. Smith also discussed his positions on AVMA legislative priorities, and stressed the need for veterinarians to be political advocates at the state and national levels.

On the final day of their visit, students met with representatives on Capitol Hill to discuss two bills on the AVMA legislative agenda: the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act of 2011 (H.R. 2492/S. 1947) and the Fairness to Pet Owners Act of 2011 (H.R. 1406). The AVMA is actively pursuing passage of the former bill and opposes the latter, which would impose new stipulations on veterinary prescriptions.

"These students are the AVMA's future leaders," said Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, AVMA GRD director. "Their Capitol Hill visits helped educate members of Congress and their staffs about critical issues facing the veterinary profession."