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 Incoming AVMA president to focus on veterinary leadership development, federal workforce shortages, One Health

Dr. Michael J. Topper(INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana) Speaking before the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) House of Delegates, incoming AVMA President Dr. Michael J. Topper stressed the importance of a national association that promotes leadership development, addresses shortages within the federal veterinary workforce, and continues to lead and become even more immersed in the One Health movement.

​Topper is committed to working with AVMA volunteers and staff members on specifically helping veterinary practice owners develop team building and team leadership skills.

​"By better utilizing the annual Veterinary Leadership Conference, our Future Leaders Program and our Early Career Development Committee; by expanding our partnership with the Women's Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative and other leadership programs; and by improving existing seminars, workshops and online leadership training, we can better meet this need for our members, and for our principal and constituent allied veterinary organizations," he said.

​With respect to federal workforce shortages, there is an ongoing concern that federal agencies lack sufficient numbers of veterinarians necessary to mount an effective response to a highly contagious or economically devastating animal disease, Topper warned.

​"We can do our part by advocating for the creation of new jobs and increased responsibilities in all public practice areas," said Topper. "It's critical that our federal agencies improve their assessment of future veterinary workforce needs and ensure that critical positions related to public and animal health and safety get the attention they need and are filled by those who can best do the job."

​The AVMA remains engaged in and an advocate for One Health, and it's important that it keeps the momentum going on this critical issue, advised Topper. The AVMA's Global Food Security Summit last February and joint statement with the American Academy of Pediatrics released last November in conjunction with One Health Day are just two recent examples of the great work the organization has done in this important area, he said.

​"Ultimately, people and animals rely on the environment for their nourishment and survival, and it's these interconnections that make the practice of One Health so critically important for each of us," said Topper. "As veterinary professionals, we must uphold our duty to promote the health of all species and the varied places in which they live."

​As president, Topper's overarching desires for the year ahead also include building on the progress the AVMA has been making in areas like wellness and economics.

"From the launch of QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) training earlier this year to our new LinkedIn Community on Wellness & Well-being and our new cyberbullying resources, our wellness initiatives and our drive to help lead the way toward improved well-being are providing new support and services to our colleagues in need," said Topper. "We also continue to learn from and work with our veterinary colleagues from the United Kingdom and Australia on improving veterinary wellness across the globe."

As an association, the AVMA prides itself not only in generating the most comprehensive, up-to-date, and reliable economic data ever seen in the profession, but also in offering a wide range of tools to help improve practice profitability, Topper acknowledged.

"By continuing to work jointly with our partners in understanding the complex economics of the profession and addressing student debt, we can help ensure that every veterinarian finds the profession to be personally and financially rewarding," he said.​

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