Advocating on behalf of veterinarians, the AVMA, and the veterinary profession

Published on August 06, 2018

President’s Column: Dr. John de Jong

I am humbled by the incredible honor of becoming your new president. I assume this important responsibility with a commitment to serving you and this association to the best of my ability, alongside a great team of fellow AVMA officers, Board and House members, other volunteers, and staff.

I wouldn’t be here without the guidance and support of so many people. Specifically, I want to thank Dr. Mike Topper for serving as our president during this past year and for providing me with a standard of exemplary servant leadership. I will incorporate his work and vision for the AVMA as I strive to build on this association’s rich history.

As president-elect this past year, I had many wonderful experiences that helped me prepare for the presidency. The calendar of an AVMA officer may be exhausting; but having the opportunity to serve you, this outstanding association, and our noble profession makes it extremely fulfilling.

In my extensive travels and meetings with people from all walks of veterinary life, I have communicated the AVMA’s vision to protect, promote, and advance veterinarians and the veterinary profession. I have been interviewed by several media outlets, actively participated in industry meetings, and been a part of discussions about issues important to the profession, like student debt, wellbeing, and diversity and inclusion. I have also shared news about the important work of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, the AVMA Political Action Committee, and our newly formed umbrella insurance trust, which will continually evolve to ensure that your needs are met now and into the future. In between this role and serving as a recent AVMA Board chair, I have continued to advocate for the AVMA and the profession, and will continue to do so as president, knowing that our members make this profession as special as it is.

In taking the reins as president, my primary goal and vision for the AVMA is this: we need to focus on all our member-identified priorities, with the top three being advocacy, education, and economics.

I am particularly committed to advocacy. I will advocate on behalf of veterinary medicine to the public as well as to our federal and state lawmakers. It is important for the public to know who we are, and to have a greater understanding and appreciation of the breadth of our profession in areas like food animal production, public health, animal welfare, epidemiology, research, companion animal practice, and so much more.

We must work to make the AVMA acronym much better known, because we are the worldwide standard of excellence in veterinary medicine.

I will help achieve this by working with our dedicated and talented AVMA staff to optimize our visibility through every form of media possible—print media, social media, radio, and television. I will harness my energy and enthusiasm and my love of veterinary medicine to do so, and I ask you to join me in these efforts.

We have made great progress over the past year in so many areas, and we need to build on that momentum. We are working on ways to best help address our members' wellbeing and to partner with key stakeholders to make veterinary medicine a stronger and healthier profession. We are putting ideas into action around issues related to education and economics, and will continue working on real solutions to help ease the financial burdens on our students and young veterinarians.

Veterinarians, by the nature of what we do, serve animals and humans alike ethically and with humility, compassion, empathy, and respect. And we can all be stronger advocates for our profession while still being true to our core principles and our oath.

We in veterinary medicine need to stay united to be strong. We need to be advocates for each other and for our profession. And we must find our collective voice and speak up about the value of veterinary medicine, the greatest profession in the world.

I look forward to the journey ahead and to working with all of you to achieve even greater things on behalf of veterinary medicine.

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