Resolve to volunteer and give back to the profession

Published on January 03, 2018

President’s Column: Dr. Mike Topper

Topper-MichaelAt the AVMA, we know how much our volunteers mean to us as an association and to the veterinary profession. Our volunteers are our lifeblood. Their dedicated efforts are critical to our success and relevancy and to helping us fulfill our mission.

Without our volunteers, we would miss their diversity and insight. We would have to hire more staff. We would lose out on valuable perspectives. And we would be without the talents of so many influential members of the profession.

Today, the AVMA is fortunate to have more than 600 volunteers who donate thousands of hours to the association and the profession. To our volunteers both past and present—we thank you for all that you have done and continue to do. We are grateful to you for your service.

If you currently don’t volunteer in some capacity, I encourage you to start 2018 off right by becoming an AVMA volunteer and giving back to a profession that has given us all so much.

From a personal perspective, I became an AVMA volunteer because I believe we need to contribute to the profession in ways other than practicing veterinary medicine. Volunteering has allowed me to increase my professional and personal networks, and has taught me about the many different aspects of the veterinary profession. It has helped me grow professionally by enhancing my leadership skills and honing my interpersonal and communication skills. I can say without hesitation that my work as an AVMA volunteer has been a very rewarding experience and brings me as much joy today as it did when I first became a volunteer 20 years ago.

What kinds of volunteer opportunities are available?

Our volunteers are engaged in a wide variety of activities. Volunteer committee members, for example, help plan the CE programs for the annual Veterinary Leadership Conference and AVMA Convention. Members of the Council on Education and the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities conduct site visits to evaluate veterinary colleges and veterinary technician programs for accreditation. We also have many volunteer opportunities on our Board of Directors, House of Delegates, and dozens of councils, committees, panels, and task forces. Almost every aspect of our work is advanced, in some way, by volunteers.

If you don’t have a lot of time to commit, fear not! There are ways to advance the profession from the comfort of your home. You can join the AVMA Congressional Advocacy Network and email your members of Congress in support of or opposition to legislation that impacts the profession. Or you can give us your perspective on various issues within the profession by responding to AVMA surveys. With every new voice, our collective voice becomes stronger and more effective.

Volunteering benefits us as an association and as a profession. At the same time, you can take pride in knowing that your work is making a difference in the lives of animals and people. Volunteering can benefit you physically, emotionally, and on a personal and professional level. It's a win-win for all involved.

Last summer, speaking to the AVMA House of Delegates, I emphasized how important it is that we support the profession. One of the ways you can help is to become a volunteer. By being engaged, you will not only make your voice heard, but also help us as we strive to make veterinary medicine a better profession for you and for future generations of veterinarians.

To see current AVMA volunteer opportunities and to learn about how you can make a difference, please visit

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