A year filled with challenge and opportunity

Published on July 06, 2020
AVMA President's Column: Dr. John Howe

My term as AVMA president will soon come to a close, and I want to express how grateful I am to have had the privilege of serving AVMA members over the past year. As our world gradually begins to emerge from the initial impacts of COVID-19, I thank all of you for your unwavering commitment to your patients and clients, your colleagues, and your communities during these extraordinary times. Time and again, we have demonstrated resilience when times are tough, as individuals and as a profession. 

Time and again, we have demonstrated resilience when times are tough, as individuals and as a profession.

AVMA’s primary objective over the past several months was to ensure that you are informed and prepared to manage the effects COVID-19 has had on veterinary medicine. This included widespread collaboration across the profession and beyond to provide you with veterinary-focused information, tools, and resources. 

Throughout the pandemic, AVMA has actively engaged with authorities at every level of government to address veterinarians’ needs. This is part of our ongoing work to advocate for programs that support veterinarians, veterinary teams, and the operations and viability of veterinary small businesses. Thanks to the generosity of Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Zoetis, and the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, we also are pleased that the American Veterinary Medical Foundation was able to provide relief grants for veterinary technicians and assistants during the pandemic.

We continue to work to understand veterinary needs as AVMA members respond to the unique impact of COVID-19. We also remain focused on continuing to evolve and update the services and resources you’ve come to rely on from the AVMA.

Supporting One Health

We’ve amplified our efforts as a leader in the One Health movement by engaging with physicians and others on issues common to animal and human medicine. Now more than ever, it’s critical that our policymakers understand the importance of a coordinated, One Health approach to dealing with infectious disease outbreaks and why investing in animal health research, surveillance, and diagnostics is so vital to public health and safety. 

Advancing veterinary learning

Veterinarians’ commitment to society includes a dedication to lifelong learning. Our digital education platform, AVMA Axon®, has proven to be an invaluable resource during the pandemic, supporting veterinary teams with free webinars about the most up-to-date guidance for dealing with SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. Since its launch in the spring of 2019, Axon has provided veterinarians access to live webinars, on-demand courses, Best of Convention and Events CE, and the Workplace Wellbeing Certificate Program. Over 8,000 users have downloaded more than 18,000 Axon courses. 

Protecting the wellbeing of veterinary teams

In the area of wellbeing, the AVMA recently became the first U.S. veterinary organization to join the National Academy of Medicine in pledging to reduce burnout and promote wellbeing among clinicians. We are also pleased to have collaborated with Merck Animal Health on a second comprehensive study of wellbeing and mental health among U.S. veterinarians. And our partnership with important stakeholders led to the development of a toolkit to help veterinary colleges support the emotional wellbeing of students, faculty, and staff.

Elevating veterinary economics

Despite its clear challenges broadly, the past year was a very successful—and pivotal—one for the AVMA’s strategy to improve veterinary economics. We redoubled our efforts, providing greater actionable insights. Our inaugural Economic State of the Profession Report and a refreshed and reinvigorated Economic Summit helped us provide members with not just the diagnosis, but the treatment plans needed to support decision-making on the economic challenges and opportunities facing the profession.

Putting compassion into action

Earlier this year, our Australian colleagues witnessed compassion in action through our community’s generous contributions to their wildfire relief efforts. Coupled with donations from the AVMA, AVMF, and VCA Charities, your support helped us raise $225,000 for critically needed assistance. This is yet another example of why the veterinary profession is so special. We have a common desire to help others when they need it most, and we have made serving the greater good part of the fabric of our profession.

We have a common desire to help others when they need it most, and we have made serving the greater good part of the fabric of our profession.

It has been quite a year on all fronts. While much of our recent time and efforts have been focused on dealing with the COVID-19 situation, work on other fronts also has moved ahead. The AVMA remains committed to meeting your professional and personal needs; we have one goal, and that is to serve you—our members.

As I prepare to transition to my new role as AVMA immediate past president, I look forward to working with our incoming AVMA president, Dr. Doug Kratt, to build on our progress and focus on the future.

Thank you all for making the veterinary profession as special as it is in so many ways.


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