January 15, 2014


 Board tweaks approach to member services, ethics

Posted Dec. 30, 2013
The AVMA is taking a slightly new tack in how it addresses the areas of member services and veterinary ethics.

The Executive Board approved sunsetting the AVMA Member Services Committee in 2014 but is seeking to preserve two MSC objectives—promoting diversity in the profession and promoting wellness among veterinary professionals. The board also approved continuing the AVMA Judicial Council on an ad hoc basis, which will enable the council to complete revisions to the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics of the AVMA.

The board took the actions during its November 2013 meeting, following in-depth performance evaluations of the MSC and Judicial Council by the AVMA Governance Performance Review Committee.

According to the governance committee, the charge of the MSC is too broad, and most of its charge is being addressed by other AVMA entities or by staff. The charge is to promote organized veterinary medicine and AVMA membership, make recommendations on membership matters, review membership policies, promote diversity and mentorship, promote wellness, and advocate for veterinary students.

AVMA Executive Board members Drs. Mark P. Helfat and Michael L. Whitehair, SAVMA representative Elise Ackley, and AVMA Vice President Walter R. Threlfall (Photo by Greg Cima)
Dr. Douglas G. Aspros, AVMA immediate past president, said sunsetting the MSC does not mean that the Association is inattentive to member services, but rather, is a response to the fact that the functions of the committee are being addressed by others.

Dr. Ted Cohn, AVMA president-elect, said he wanted to preserve the MSC objectives to promote diversity and wellness. Other board members spoke in favor of expanding AVMA efforts to promote diversity.

The board voted to sunset the MSC effective July 2014 and instructed staff to reach out to committee members for input on approaches to diversity and wellness.

The work of the Judicial Council is limited, according to the governance committee. The council’s responsibilities include investigating unethical conduct by AVMA members and advising on questions of veterinary ethics. The committee concluded that ad hoc committees, staff, and existing AVMA entities could fulfill the council’s responsibilities.

Dr. Mark P. Helfat, District II representative on the board, said the council is hard at work revising the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics. He suggested allowing the council plenty of time to complete the project.

Sunsetting the council would require an amendment to the AVMA Bylaws, but the Association currently is examining the entire AVMA governance structure. The board voted not to sunset the council and voted instead to direct the council to meet on an ad hoc basis pending AVMA governance adjustments.