Dr. Heather Case’s Story
Just a few years out of veterinary school, Dr. Heather Case loved her work as a full-time equine veterinarian at a Minnesota mixed-animal practice. But she was looking for something more.
That’s when she saw an ad in the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association’s newsletter seeking recent graduates to attend the AVMA’s Veterinary Leadership Conference. What she found when she answered the ad was an experience that changed the trajectory of her career.
“I saw the power of AVMA volunteers firsthand,” says Dr. Case, now chief executive officer of the International Council for Veterinary Assessment. “I was mentored, encouraged, and inspired. It left me with an energy to give back so that others could experience what I did.”
"I saw the power of AVMA volunteers firsthand. I was mentored, encouraged, and inspired. It left me with an energy to give back so that others could experience what I did."
In the months that followed, Dr. Case was elected to the Minnesota VMA’s Board of Directors. Her colleagues there later encouraged her to run – successfully – for a position on the AVMA’s Veterinary Leadership Conference Planning Committee.
That was more than a decade ago, and Dr. Case is still volunteering with the AVMA. In fact, during that time she went from being an AVMA volunteer to serving as an AVMA Congressional Fellow, later joining the AVMA staff, and eventually becoming AVMA’s director of scientific activities before moving on to new employment in 2014... and shifting seamlessly back into the role of AVMA volunteer. Currently a member of the AVMA’s Early Career Development Committee, she recommends that all veterinarians volunteer with the AVMA, especially those in the early stages of their careers.
“By volunteering, I learned the value of collaborating with, learning from, and working towards a specific goal with other veterinary colleagues,” Dr. Case says.
“The AVMA has truly provided me with a strong cornerstone for my career,” she adds. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to continue to work with the AVMA as a volunteer on the Early Career Development Committee. I received so much mentoring and encouragement when I was a recent graduate. If I can provide support to even one veterinarian in their early career during my tenure on this committee, my time and effort volunteering will be worth it!”
Why does Dr. Case think it’s so important to volunteer?
“Volunteering at the AVMA is about giving back to the profession, but has also provided (me) so many rewards,” she says. “The ability to work with like-minded veterinarians towards enhancing the veterinary profession is something every veterinarian should find valuable. The AVMA is unique among health professional associations in that it truly does serve as the voice for the profession. Volunteering my time and talents to the AVMA is my way of ensuring I’m giving back to the profession."
Dr. Case recently recorded a video to encourage more AVMA members to take advantage of the leadership opportunities available through the association. We invite you to watch it here and share it with colleagues.
“I was very involved in organized veterinary medicine as a vet student,” says Dr. Case. “I was completely unsure of how to engage with my veterinary colleagues once I graduated. The AVMA provided me an opportunity to network with like-minded veterinarians and opened my eyes to new possibilities in volunteering and for my career. I truly believe I’d be on a very different career track had I not had the opportunity to attend the AVMA’s Veterinary Leadership Conference and go on to serve as an AVMA volunteer."
Learn more about volunteering with the AVMA, and explore current volunteer opportunities, in the Volunteer Opportunities section of avma.org.
"The AVMA has truly provided me with a strong cornerstone for my career. ... I received so much mentoring and encouragement when I was a recent graduate. If I can provide support to even one veterinarian in their early career during my tenure on this committee, my time and effort volunteering will be worth it!"