Powered by you: AVMA members guide House of Delegates

Published on March 04, 2020
AVMA President's Column: Dr. John Howe

Member input is a central component of the AVMA’s work, including how our largest governing bodies work. When your AVMA House of Delegates gathers twice a year to conduct association business, the interests of members drive delegates’ conversations, deliberations, and actions.

This commitment to represent member interests was clear from the substantial time the HOD spent discussing revisions to the AVMA’s Policy on Declawing of Domestic Cats at its recent winter meeting. Although the core meaning and intent of the policy have not changed, the revised version reminds veterinarians that declawing should not be considered routine and emphasizes the importance of professional judgment and client education in making decisions that best protect the health and welfare of individual patients.

The delegates also heard good news about AVMA membership and other developments that will benefit members. AVMA membership is stronger than ever, with the association’s official membership setting a new record at more than 95,300. Three out of every four veterinarians in the United States are AVMA members. Having three-fourths of all U.S. veterinarians standing side by side and representing the profession is critical to our success.

Addressing topics that matter to members

AVMA is powered During the HOD’s business meeting, the Veterinary Information Forum was devoted to three topics that have generated extensive member interest. When delegates emailed constituents ahead of the discussion, they received more than 300 responses. The following topics were discussed:

  • Student externs, practice volunteers, and potential liability
  • Connected care / Telehealth
  • Cannabis

Regarding the student extern/practice volunteer topic, delegates agreed that veterinary work experience prior to and during veterinary school has tremendous value. These experiences are part of nonacademic evaluations, give an understanding of our profession, provide students and volunteers a degree of comfort with animals in clinical settings, and provide some basic technical skills and insight into the veterinary working world. But such arrangements may also carry risk, particularly in the case of injury and determination of liability.

To better understand and address these issues, the HOD voted to request that the AVMA Board of Directors consider developing a toolkit including potential forms and an awareness campaign. The aim would be to protect practitioners, students, and other members of the veterinary health care team.

The HOD heard an update on AVMA’s 2019 activities related to connected care, which included supporting state veterinary medical associations as they engaged with regulators, communicating and collaborating with industry, and developing additional member-focused resources, including continuing education and online materials. The HOD thanked the association for all the work done to address this important issue and urged a continuation of the AVMA’s work to develop guidelines on telehealth and connected care.

Having three-fourths of all U.S. veterinarians standing side by side and representing the profession is critical to our success.

The HOD also heard an update on the association’s efforts related to the growing interest in therapeutic applications of cannabis and cannabis-derived products in veterinary medicine. The AVMA remains committed in 2020 to advocating for regulatory clarity and developing additional member-focused resources and education. The House made no specific recommendations related to cannabis.

Also included in the Veterinary Information Forum were updates on important issues related to sexual harassment in the workplace and the utilization of veterinary technicians.

The HOD passed a resolution during its 2019 annual meeting recognizing that sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue and asking the AVMA Board of Directors to develop supporting resources and report back to the House. In response, the AVMA will work in 2020 to update the AVMA website to include additional resources for preventing sexual harassment in the workplace and to include sexual harassment education in AVMA CE programs. The AVMA also will explore identifying specific workplace harassment training programs to recommend to veterinary practices. A review of the AVMA policy on Harassment and discrimination-free veterinary workplace also will occur.

A summary of the report of the AVMA Task Force on Veterinary Technician Utilization was shared with House members. The report focused on veterinary technician education, licensing and regulation, economics, supply and attrition, and wellness. The report will now be shared with the AVMA’s Council on Veterinary Service, Veterinary Economics Strategy Committee, and Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities, as well as the AVMA/National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America Leadership Committee and other entities as appropriate for their consideration.

You can learn more about the HOD’s recent meeting in the March 1, 2020, edition of JAVMA News

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