Building on our successes to achieve an even brighter future

Published on August 13, 2021
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Dr. José Arce

         PRESIDENT'S COLUMN

    Dr. José Arce

Hola and hello. I am honored and humbled to serve as your new AVMA president. 

As COVID-19 pandemic restrictions continue to loosen and we work toward our “new normal” following a truly extraordinary year and a half, I am committed to continuing our great work in conjunction with our volunteer leadership, AVMA staff, and dedicated members. This collaborative approach helps this Association optimize our service to the profession and make a positive difference in the lives of our clients and animal patients.

Gracias, Dr. Douglas Kratt, for your service as AVMA president over the past year and for the wonderful job you have done representing our association as we navigated the pandemic and simultaneously worked to meet your needs in other important areas. 

I also want to say muchas gracias, Dr. John Howe, for your dedicated service as AVMA immediate past president and as chair of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation Board of Directors. And I thank all AVMA members for your unwavering commitment to your patients and clients, your colleagues, and your communities during these challenging times.

About myself 

A little bit about myself: I was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I wanted to be a veterinarian for as long as I can remember. I have been actively involved in organized veterinary medicine for almost 30 years, dating back to my days in veterinary school. 

I am truly passionate about our profession, and I cherish every opportunity to educate, promote, and advocate for veterinary medicine, whether it is in a kindergarten classroom or on Capitol Hill. I met my wife, Dr. Anik Puig, in veterinary school, and together we own a small animal practice in San Juan. We have a son, Diego, and in the little spare time I have, I enjoy participating in soccer.

I am very proud of my Puerto Rican and Spanish roots. They are an intricate part of who I am and have helped shape my perspective on life. Being the first Puerto Rican president of the AVMA is certainly an honor, and it comes with personal and professional responsibilities. I will do my best to lead by example. Hopefully my presidency will send a message of inclusiveness and inspire other minorities to become involved in organized veterinary medicine. 

Looking toward the year ahead

Through the Commission for a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Veterinary Profession we formed with the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges – and of which I am the AVMA Board liaison – we will continue to work with our veterinary partners to help achieve greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in the profession. 

Together, we will ensure that the AVMA continues to meet the needs of society while protecting, promoting, and advancing a unified veterinary profession.

The pandemic has given all of us a better appreciation for how interconnected our profession is, and how working together on common issues makes all of us stronger. It has opened people’s eyes to, and reinforced the importance of, the One Health concept. It’s important that we continue to promote One Health, recognizing that the connections between people, animals, and their shared environment have become more significant and impactful than ever. 

We need to remain focused on cultivating relationships and working in unison with other global veterinary associations and intergovernmental entities to support public health, animal health, and animal welfare around the world.

Veterinary medicine continues to face economic challenges and societal demands. Educational debt, income concerns, scope-of-practice issues, and the need for a good work-life balance all impact wellbeing within our profession. 

We will continue to work with Congress to support the profession, such as advocating for legislation that supports low-interest or interest-free student loans to make veterinary medical education more accessible. And, we need to continue working together to foster an environment that promotes the mental health, emotional wellbeing, and personal happiness of veterinarians and veterinary students both at work and at home.

I am a strong advocate of the AVMA family concept. As the AVMA’s ambassador, I will take the AVMA family message everywhere I go. Whether it is the AVMA, AVMF, AVMA Trust, AVMA Political Action Committee, or Student AVMA, I am committed to ensuring all parts of the AVMA family work together to serve your needs effectively.

In the year ahead, I will do my best to be a strong leader who represents our members, advocates for our profession, and inspires others to do the same. Together, we will ensure that the AVMA continues to meet the needs of society while protecting, promoting, and advancing a unified veterinary profession. The future of veterinary medicine is bright, and I am honored to serve as your president in the year ahead.
 

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