For the first time in many years, AVMA leaders in March met with Mexican veterinary leaders to discuss areas of common interest.
The AVMA attendees at the two-day meeting, held in Puerto Vallarta, were president, Dr. James E. Nave; president-elect, Dr. James H. Brandt; Dr. Donald G. Simmons, director of the Education and Research Division; Dr. Jenks K. Britt, chair of the Council on Education; and Dr. James L. Voss, Council on Education representative from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.
Both sides said they were satisfied with the outcome of the meeting, which mainly consisted of formal presentations about how the veterinary education, college accreditation, association, and professional practice systems work on each side of the border. To further understand the accreditation process, representatives from each country will attend site visits in the other country, and at least one representative from Mexico will attend an AVMA Council on Education meeting.
The meeting provided a better opportunity than ever before for the officials to understand the structures underlying veterinary medicine in both countries, said Dr. Francisco Trigo of the Universidad Nacional de Mexico.
"If nothing else would have happened beyond this point, I think it would have been already a success to really join the leadership from both countries to understand in detail what we are doing," Dr. Trigo said.
The discussion also included talk about the Pan American Association of Veterinary Sciences, or PANVET. Mexico is an active member of the group, and its leaders want the AVMA to join as well. Dr. Nave said the AVMA delegation agreed to look deeper into why the Association is no longer a member of the group, but that any decision on whether to join or to be more involved would fall to the Executive Board. Dr. Nave and Dr. Simmons will be attending the May PANVET meeting in Chile—a decision that was made before this meeting.
"I feel like anything that occurs in the Western Hemisphere, that the United States should be at the table and at least listen to the discussion, whether we're active participants in their processes or just observers," Dr. Brandt said.
Dr. Trigo said other PANVET member countries would benefit from the AVMA's body of knowledge, and that the AVMA would also gain a deeper insight into veterinary medicine in Latin American countries—important given the countries' proximity to the United States and the role of their veterinarians in regulating the trade of animal products.
"As long as you know much about your neighbors, you know exactly what they are doing, and how they are doing things," Dr. Trigo said. "If you are certain that your neighbors have accredited colleges, that they are training world-quality veterinarians, that the licensing is done properly ... then I think you are safer inside your national territory."
Although the meeting was mostly informational, at least one agreement was reached, participants said—that the dialogue should be continued, and should include Canada. Dr. Nave plans to submit a recommendation to the Executive Board that additional gatherings take place.
"We both agreed that it's important to have a good relationship between the United States, Mexico, and Canada, and that these discussions involve a lot more than just accreditation and education," Dr. Nave said. "They involve trade, they involve bioterrorism, they involve animal welfare issues, they involve environmental issues, and others."