The concept of a national association of Student Chapters of the AVMA was first proposed to students who attended the 1966 AVMA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. For the next five years veterinary students, under AVMA guidance, examined the need for such an organization. In 1969 the University of California Student Chapter of the AVMA elected a committee to lay the framework for the proposed national student association. In May of that year, the "National Conference of Student Chapters of the AVMA" (NCSCAVMA) came into being. Its key objectives were patterned after those of the parent AVMA: ". . . to advance the science and art of veterinary medicine, including its relationship to agriculture and public health." In 1972 the name of the organization was changed to the Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA), and at the end of the 2013-2014 membership year there were 32 student chapters and 1 student association organization with a total membership of 14,921 students. Veterinary students studying outside of the US where a student chapter does not exist are welcome to become associate members.
Structurally, the Student AVMA consists of an Executive Board and a House of Delegates (HOD) composed of two representatives from each member chapter. The House of Delegates meets twice yearly; in July during the AVMA Convention, and in the spring during the annual Student AVMA Educational Symposium. Members of the Executive Board are selected by the House of Delegates. They include the president, president-elect, secretary, secretary-elect, treasurer, treasurer-elect, international exchange officer, international exchange officer-elect information technology officer, information technology officer-elect, Vet Gazette editor, and Vet Gazette editor-elect. An Assistant Director of Membership and Field Services is the official Student AVMA advisor.
The formation of a national organization of veterinary students has enabled what were once isolated student chapters to function effectively as a single unit on the national scene. The Student AVMA coordinates student chapter functions, promotes the exchange of ideas and information among students, and represents its members in matters that concern them, both as students and as future veterinarians.
The Student AVMA President and President-elect are members of the AVMA House of Delegates.
Several Student AVMA committees function to benefit Student AVMA members.