Speeches - AVMA President Address to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association on Canadian and U.S. Veterinary Collaboration

2005

THE INVITATION TO ADDRESS THE CANADIAN VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION REPRESENTS A HIGH POINT IN MY TENURE AS THE PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION. JOHN BURROUGHS, THE AMERICAN NATURALIST ONCE SAID, "I STILL FIND EACH DAY TOO SHORT FOR ALL THE THOUGHTS I WANT TO THINK, ALL THE WALKS I WANT TO TAKE, ALL THE BOOKS I WANT TO READ, AND ALL THE FRIENDS I WANT TO SEE." MY FRIENDS, I AM HAPPY TO SEE YOU TODAY.

AS YOU MAY KNOW, THE THEME OF MY PRESIDENCY HAS BEEN UNITY. AND I CAN THINK OF NO BETTER EXAMPLE OF A UNITED FRONT THAN THAT BETWEEN OUR TWO ASSOCIATIONS.

FOR MANY DECADES, OUR TWO ORGANIZATIONS HAVE COLLABORATED AND COOPERATED ON ISSUES FROM EDUCATION TO FOOD SAFETY. WHILE WE MAY NOT HAVE ALWAYS AGREED ON THE ISSUE ... WE HAVE ALWAYS AGREED TO TALK AND TO FIND WAYS TO WORK TOGETHER.

AS EARLY AS 1877, A PAPER BY PROFESSOR DUNCAN McEACHRAN, FOUNDER OF THE MONTREAL VETERINARY COLLEGE, WAS PUBLISHED IN THE VERY FIRST ISSUE OF THE AMERICAN VETERINARY REVIEW, WHICH LATER BECAME WHAT WE KNOW AS JAVMA. THAT WAS FOLLOWED BY THE PUBLICATION OF A SERIES OF REVIEW ARTICLES BY PROFESSION McEACHRAN ON THE NEED FOR A STANDARDIZED, RIGOROUS VETERINARY EDUCATION CURRICULUM ... A TOPIC WHICH REMAINS A CONCERN FOR BOTH OUR ASSOCIATIONS.

IN 1878 A CONGRESS OF AMERICAN VETERINARY COLLEGES WAS PROPOSED, AND RESPONSES WERE RECEIVED FROM THE MONTREAL VETERINARY COLLEGE, ONTARIO, ILLINOIS, CORNELL AND THE AMERICAN VETERINARY COLLEGE IN NEW YORK CITY.

IN 1881, WILLIAMSON BRYDEN WAS ELECTED THE FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE U.S. VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION TO HAVE GRADUATED FROM A VETERINARY COLLEGE IN CANADA.

BY 1898, WE'D CHANGED OUR NAME TO THE AMERICAN VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION BUT THAT DIDN'T MEAN WE TURNED OUR BACK ON OUR ESTEEMED NEIGHBOR. THE FOLLOWING YEAR, SIX CANADIANS JOINED THE AVMA, DOUBLING THE CANADIAN MEMBERSHIP, AND FRED TORRANCE OF WINNIPEG WAS ELECTED VICE-PRESIDENT OF OUR ASSOCIATION. OF THE 48 NEW MEMBERS IN 1900, 18 WERE FROM THE ONTARIO AND McGILL SCHOOLS.

IN 1903, WE EVEN CELEBRATED OUR 50TH ANNIVERSARY IN CANADA, WHEN WE HELD OUR CONVENTION IN OTTAWA. SO OUR MEMBERS AND OUR ASSOCIATIONS HAVE BEEN FRIENDS FOR A LONG, LONG TIME.

BY 1988, A COMMON FORMAT FOR THE CLINICAL PROFICIENCY EXAMINATION WAS ESTABLISHED WITH CANADA AS WAS RECIPROCITY, ENSURING THAT THE CLINICAL SKILLS OF GRADUATES OF NON-ACCREDITED VETERINARY PROGRAMS WOULD BE COMPARABLE AND ENSURING THE HIGH STANDARDS ACCEPTED AS MINIMAL FOR BOTH OUR COUNTIES.

AS AN INDICATOR OF HOW STRONGLY WE VALUE YOUR INPUT, A MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL EXAMINING BOARD SITS ON THE AVMA COUNCIL ON EDUCATION, PROVIDING INVALUABLE INPUT ON HOW WE CAN CONTINUE TO SUPPORT HIGH EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS IN BOTH NATIONS.

FOUR CANADIAN COLLEGES CURRENTLY ENJOY AVMA ACCREDITATION AND A FIFTH, CALGARY, IS IN THE MIDST OF CONSULTATIVE VISITS THAT MAY LEAD TO FULL ACCREDITATION. IN ADDITION, A CANADIAN REPRESENTATIVE IS INCLUDED IN EVERY SITE VISIT TO EVERY AVMA ACCREDITED SCHOOL ... WHETHER IN CANADA, THE U.S. OR OVERSEAS. AND A CANADIAN MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL EXAMINING BOARD IS AN INTEGRAL MEMBER OF AVMA's EDUCATIONAL COMMISSION FOR FOREIGN VETERINARY GRADUATES – OR ECFVG – TO HELP ENSURE THAT THE HIGH STANDARDS DR. McEACHRAN PROPOSED OVER A HUNDRED YEARS AGO ARE STILL THE EPITOME FOR WHICH WE STRIVE.

THERE ARE NUMEROUS OTHER WAYS IN WHICH OUR TWO GREAT ASSOCIATIONS HAVE COOPERATED OVER THE YEARS. THE CANADIAN VMA IS NOW AN INTERNATIONAL PARTNER IN THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON VETERINARY ECONOMIC ISSUES AND, AS SUCH, CVMA MEMBERS HAVE FULL ACCESS TO THE MYRIAD NCVEI TOOLS DESIGNED TO HELP MAKE THEM MORE SUCCESSFUL AND PROFITABLE.

I HAVE JUST RETURNED FROM THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE INTERNATIONAL VETERINARY OFFICERS COUNCIL, HOSTED THIS YEAR BY SOUTH AFRICA, WHERE I JOINED YOUR PRESIDENT AND OTHER VETERINARY ASSOCIATION LEADERS TO DISCUSS ISSUES WE HAVE IN COMMON. EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS, ECONOMIC STANDARDS, MEMBERSHIP RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION, THE ROLE OF THE VETERINARY PROFESSION IN ENSURING THE SAFETY OF OUR FOOD SUPPLIES AND THE SECURITY OF OUR NATIONS AGAINST BIOTERRORISM ATTACKS AND ZOONOTIC DISEASES ... ALL AND MORE WERE DISCUSSED IN DEPTH IN BOTH FORMAL AND INFORMAL TALKS. EACH MEETING OF THIS INFLUENTIAL GROUP IS YET ANOTHER REMINDER OF HOW CRITICAL IT IS FOR OUR ORGANIZATIONS TO WORK TOGETHER TOWARD FURTHER GLOBAL HARMONIZATION AND UNITY.

WHICH BRINGS ME BACK TO THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA. MOST RECENTLY, OUR TWO COUNTRIES HAVE AGREED TO RECOGNIZE EACH OTHER'S VETERINARY TECHNICIAN EDUCATIONAL EFFORTS AS EQUIVALENT. IN ADDITION, EACH COUNTRY WILL WELCOME A REPRESENTATIVE FROM THE OTHER COUNTRY AS A FULL VOTING MEMBER OF THEIR ACCREDITATION COMMITTEE. WITH EACH OF OUR NATIONS FACING A GLARING LACK OF VETERINARY TECHNICIANS, WHO PROVIDE AN INVALUABLE SERVICE TO THE VETERINARY PROFESSION, WE ARE MOST TIMELY IN THIS BRAVE, NEW INITIATIVE. WE'VE TALKED ABOUT IT FOR SIX OR SEVEN YEARS. BUT NOW, WITH THE OUTSTANDING LEADERSHIP OF INDIVIDUALS LIKE DR. GAVIN HAMILTON, WE'VE AGREED TO AGREE ... ONCE AGAIN.

IN THE PAST MONTH, OUR ASSOCIATION'S JOURNAL HAS PUBLISHED A SERIES CONCERNING AN IMPORTANT NEW STUDY WHICH ADDRESSES THE INCREASED DEMAND FOR FOOD SUPPLY VETERINARIANS IN BOTH THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA. THIS STUDY, FUNDED IN PART BY THE AVMA, HAS GARNERED A LOT OF ATTENTION FROM THE MEDIA AND THOSE WHO WIELD INFLUENCE ON CAPITOL HILL IN WASHINGTON. THE AVMA WILL BE WORKING WITH YOUR LEADERSHIP TO ENSURE THAT THOSE IN POSITIONS OF INFLUENCE IN YOUR GOVERNMENT UNDERSTAND THE IMPLICATIONS OF THAT STUDY. IT WILL BE IMPERATIVE THAT OUR ASSOCIATIONS WORK CLOSELY TOGETHER TO ENSURE THAT THE GAPS IDENTIFIED IN THAT STUDY ARE FILLED, AND THAT BOTH OUR COUNTRIES RETAIN A SAFE FOOD SUPPLY AND THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE STANDARDS OF COUNTER-TERRORISM IN BIOSECURITY.

BUT OUR WORST FEARS ARE NOT ALWAYS ON OUR RADAR SCREENS. LAST YEAR, THE UNITED STATES, ITS PEOPLE, ANIMALS AND THE VETERINARY PROFESSION SUFFERED A CRUSHING BLOW WHEN HURRICANES BATTERED THE COASTLINES OF OUR SOUTHEASTERN STATES. AS SOON AS THE EXTENT OF THE DAMAGE WAS REALIZED, YOU REACHED OUT AND OFFERED ASSISTANCE. YOU TOOK IN AMERICAN VETERINARIANS AND OFFERED THEM TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT AND PLACES TO LIVE WHEN ALL SEEMED LOST. YOU OFFERED PROFESSIONAL HELP AND PERSONAL SUPPORT. WITHOUT HESITATION, YOU ACCEPTED ANIMALS AND MADE SURE THAT THEIR NEEDS WERE MET. YOU WELCOMED ALL. YOU NEVER QUESTIONED IF YOU HAD THE TIME AND RESOURCES. AS ANY GOOD FRIEND WOULD IN A TIME OF TRAGEDY, YOU STEPPED UP TO THE PLATE.

AND SO I'M HERE TODAY TO THANK YOU, FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART AND FROM ALL OF OUR MEMBERS. I'M HERE TO TELL YOU THAT, WHILE THERE ARE INEVITABLE TRIALS AHEAD, WE WILL, AS WE HAVE FOR OVER A CENTURY, FIND SUCCESS AS WE WORK TOGETHER TO ENSURE THE QUALITY OF OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEMS, THE ROBUSTNESS OF OUR NUMBERS, A TRUE DIVERSITY IN OUR MEMBERSHIP AND THE TOP-TIER STANDARDS OF OUR PROFESSION. THAT WE WILL, TOGETHER, FIND SOLUTIONS TO THE CHALLENGES WE FACE TODAY...AND TOMORROW.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON WROTE, "I AWOKE THIS MORNING WITH DEVOUT THANKSGIVING FOR MY FRIENDS, THE OLD AND NEW." THANK YOU, OLD AND NEW FRIENDS.