Why I love the Veterinary Leadership Conference

Published on December 06, 2021
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Dr. José Arce

         PRESIDENT'S COLUMN

    Dr. José Arce

Thousands of veterinary professionals and veterinary medical students have gathered each January over the years to attend the AVMA’s annual Veterinary Leadership Conference (VLC) to explore new opportunities and expand their horizons.

Here’s what a few have had to say about their VLC experiences:

"This conference really changed my perspective about organized veterinary medicine and opened my eyes to a lot of things that I didn’t know were happening. All in all, I had a great time, met a lot of wonderful people, and gathered an abundance of knowledge that I have taken back and already started applying at my clinic."

“I enjoyed attending VLC because it gave me the opportunity to meet other students and professionals who are passionate about making positive changes in veterinary medicine and inspiring others to go above and beyond their professional duties. . . .VLC doesn’t just stand for Veterinary Leadership Conference; it's very life-changing!”

“The VLC has provided me with confidence and increased my comfort level with veterinary leadership. It also gives me a great emotional and energy boost to bring back to my life, practice, and association.”

“The VLC is one of the most positive and beneficial programs hosted by the AVMA. . . . The entire program was professional and well-organized. Well done!”

“The best conference I have attended in the last 10 years!”

The 2022 Veterinary Leadership Conference will be held January 6-9 in Chicago. Yes, Chicago, and I know what you may be thinking: “Why would I want to attend a conference in Chicago in the middle of winter?” Living in Puerto Rico, where the average January temperature is in the low 80s compared with Chicago’s low 30s, I know what you mean.  

But every time I attend VLC—and I’ve been to several of them—I come away fired up by all I learned and inspired by the skills and knowledge I gained. 

The conference is one of the few out there that equip veterinary professionals at all career stages with tools to improve personal and professional leadership. It does this by combining continuing education sessions, networking opportunities, and a look into how AVMA governance works and serves all of our members.

AVMA’s unique approach to the VLC works because it tailors programming to three distinct groups:

  • Rising leaders: Those with a desire to serve as a volunteer leader who have little or no prior leadership experience
  • Experienced leaders: Those who have prior experience as a volunteer leader and a desire to grow their leadership skills
  • Presiding leaders: Those who are currently serving in a leadership position with a desire to perfect and enhance their leadership skills

Leadership in a new era

The VLC also is relevant to the times we’re living in—because we know that good leaders must operate effectively and be forward-thinking to address all of the challenges and opportunities we face as a profession. That’s why this year’s theme is “Leadership in a New Era.” If we are going to lead with optimism about our future in a world in which COVID-19 has changed our daily lives, we need to continue to adjust, adapt, and evolve. 

Though the world is more open these days, the pandemic is still prevalent, and the country looks significantly different than it did two years ago. 

Veterinarians are practicing in a new era, which requires new leadership strategies. There’s no doubt that these are still challenging times, but they are also exciting times with new possibilities. This year’s VLC programming will reflect that, with a focus on what we can do to thrive in a changing world.

I have been actively involved in organized veterinary medicine for almost 30 years, dating back to my days at the Louisiana State University College of Veterinary Medicine. I am truly passionate about our profession, and I cherish every opportunity to educate, promote, and advocate for veterinary medicine. 

I know that many of you share this passion, and that you recognize how vital organized veterinary medicine is to the profession and how critical it is to our success.

VLC is turning 30

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference. Its longevity is a testament to the AVMA’s commitment to helping members become actively engaged with organized veterinary medicine. I invite you to join me and our colleagues for what will be an inspiring and action-packed experience. 

You can learn more and register for the event at avma.org/VLC. Hope to see you there!

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