AVMA President's Address to the American Animal Hospital Association/Ontario Veterinary Medical Association

March 24, 2011

Thank you, colleagues, friends and guests. It's an honor and a privilege to gather with you today.

I speak to you with confidence that a brighter future is on our horizon following what have been some challenging economic times.

As veterinarians, we are extremely fortunate to be held in such high esteem by members of the pet-owning public. They believe we are compassionate … honest … trustworthy … intelligent … highly educated … and technically adept.

According to AVMA public perception surveys, two-thirds of respondents say our treatment of their pets equaled the treatment they received from their own physician … while one-quarter of pet owners said veterinarians treat their pets even better than their physician treats them.

It is this type of relationship with our clients that is the most powerful tool we have to maintain and advance the public's perception of our value to society and to build on that value in terms of our business success.

In these tough economic times, however, we can't rely on what feels good to meet the formidable challenges we face. As you know, the veterinary profession is still in the grip of a tough economic environment. We still have concerns about the rate of client visits to our clinics. And I don't have to tell you that sluggish growth in visits means equally sluggish growth in clinic revenue and profit.

We can attribute at least some of this client fatigue to the recession. Indeed, many of us in this room today who once believed that the veterinary profession was recession-proof have changed our tune a bit over the past few years.

But while we can't control what is causing the recession, we can lead ourselves into brighter economic times be working together to maximize practice health. We can do so much more in terms of boosting public awareness of preventive medicine and wellness visits, which will improve the health of our nation's pets while also creating an even stronger human-animal bond.

Yes, these are challenging times. But in every challenge, there is opportunity. The AVMA intends to tackle these strategic issues head-on. But we realize we cannot do this alone. Only by working together with key partners like AAHA can we meet these challenges and build a better future. We can emerge even stronger because of our joint efforts, and AVMA is committed to doing just that.

Thank you.