Dr. James H. Brandt has been a leader of the veterinary profession through some difficult times. He was AVMA president during the Sept. 11 attacks. Until recently, he chaired the AVMA Group Health & Life Insurance Trust as it began the process of discontinuing major medical insurance, and he was just reappointed to the trust.
||Dr. James H. Brandt (left) accepts the AVMA Award from Dr. Douglas G. Aspros, 2012-2013 president. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)
During the July 19 opening session of the AVMA Annual Convention, Dr. Brandt received the AVMA Award for his contributions to organized veterinary medicine.
Drs. Larry G. Dee and John R. Bass nominated Dr. Brandt for the honor. Dr. Bass wrote about Dr. Brandt’s “long and illustrious career” and dedication to the profession. Dr. Dee wrote: “Jim has always been a class act. His calm demeanor and analytical mind have enhanced all the organizational activities where he has served.”
||Drs. James H. Brandt (right) and Ralph S. Wilhelm participate in the AVMA House of Delegates in 1991. Dr. Brandt was Florida’s alternate delegate and later AVMA president. Dr. Wilhelm was Florida’s delegate and went on to become AVMA vice president. (Courtesy of Dr. James H. Brandt)
Dr. Brandt started out studying to be an engineer. When one of his dogs was hit by a car and he didn’t know how to help it, he changed course to become a veterinarian. He earned his DVM degree from Oklahoma State University in 1964. He and his wife, Pat, moved to Florida afterward.
After working for a practitioner in Sarasota for a year, Dr. Brandt opened a mixed animal practice in Nokomis. When the last dairy in the area closed, the practice turned exclusively small animal. In 1991, he opened a second small animal practice in Venice.
Dr. Brandt became very active in organized veterinary medicine while in practice. “Participation seemed to make me feel more involved in the profession and actually made practice that much more enjoyable,” he said.
He was president of the Florida VMA and the Southwest Florida VMA, and he served as Florida’s alternate delegate and delegate to the AVMA House of Delegates. After retiring from practice in the late 1990s, he remained active with the AVMA.
“I was president in 2001, and the terrorist attack created a personal anticipatory anxiety that cast a cloud over the experience, but overall, being president was an experience that I would never trade with anybody,” Dr. Brandt said.
“There are so many wonderful people to associate with in veterinary medicine.”
Dr. Brandt’s primary focus as 2001-2002 AVMA president was on veterinary economic issues. He continues to espouse the message that continuous improvement will result in fundamental change.
After serving as president, Dr. Brandt was 2002-2003 chair of the AVMA Executive Board. He has been a GHLIT trustee since 2005, serving as chair from 2011-2013, and was recently appointed to his third and final four-year term.
The GHLIT, unable to find an underwriter for major medical insurance after 2013 because of uncertainty surrounding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, has created a private insurance exchange to help AVMA members find other plans.
Dr. Brandt noted that the GHLIT will continue to offer other forms of insurance, such as life and disability. “But the health insurance was our largest benefit to the AVMA members,” he said. “That’s the policy that no veterinarian wants to lose, but we have no choice.”
As the AVMA celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, Dr. Brandt looks back at nearly half a century in veterinary medicine and says, overall, the profession has done a wonderful job keeping up with the times.
The Sept. 15 JAVMA News will feature career highlights
of the recipients of other awards presented
during the AVMA Annual Convention.