How to be a leader in your community

Serving the public in some way can be a great way to give back to your community. Not only is this an honorable thing to do for your community, it's a great way to get your name and business out in front of the public, as well as meet new potential clients for your business.

Here are some easy ways to get started:

  • Give a presentation to one of your local schools. The AVMA has several colorful presentations (see terms and conditions) available to help veterinarians educate students about the various opportunities within our field.
  • Consider reaching out to your community through the local newspaper. A good way to get started is to write a letter to the editor on a topic that is important to you.
  • Volunteer for a science club at a nearby school. The 4-H organization offers many ways for veterinarians to volunteer at the local level.
  • Many veterinarians have participated in FFA, and for those that have not, there are still many ways to help out.
  • Volunteer for a local animal welfare organization, most of whom rely on volunteers.
  • Offer to give a presentation at a veterinary school. For example, reach out to the SAVMA Chapter at the veterinary school near you or other alumni groups.
  • Your state VMA is a place to get involved through volunteering, participation in committees or outreach. 
  • Check into getting involved with your State Board of Animal Health or volunteering for your state veterinarian. Veterinarians are an important part of disaster response and there are many ways to get involved, including opportunities within your state. Also refer to disaster resources prepared by the AVMA and the AVMF, including AVMA’s Disaster Preparedness for Veterinary Practices brochure.
  • Look into volunteering at the local level for a national volunteer organization, many of which offer a variety of ways to use veterinary or other skills.
  • Helpful sites include National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, United We Serve, and Citizen Corps.
  • International opportunities

Hear about ways some veterinarians have been leaders in their community:

Podcast: Networking Locally, Regionally, Nationally, and Internationally.
Featuring: Dr. Bonnie Buntain, Calgary, Canada.

Podcast: Opportunities Available to Veterinarians
Featuring: Dr. John de Jong, AVMA Executive Board member and a practice owner in the Boston area.

Podcast: Volunteerism within Societal Leadership and Organized Veterinary Medicine.
Featuring: Dr. Aubrey Lavizzo, a practice owner in the Denver area and the 2011 Colorado Veterinary Medical Association Veterinarian of the Year.

Podcast: Getting involved in Local, Regional, and Global Programs.
Featuring: Dr. Joe Snyder, a retired mixed-animal practitioner and part-time faculty member in the veterinary technology program at Portland Community College.

Podcast: Getting Involved within Societal Leadership Roles
Featuring: Dr. Gary Weitzman, head of the San Diego Humane Society.

Reading materials

Here you will find a few inspirational stories that some of the AVMA's Future Leaders have found to be particularly inspiring, to help find your true passion and engage with your community.  


Appointments at the Ends of the World: Memoirs of a Wildlife Veterinarian Title: Appointments at the Ends of the World: Memoirs of a Wildlife Veterinarian
Author: William B. Karesh
Description: William B. Karesh is a globetrotting vet who makes house calls in exotic places. The founding director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Field Veterinary Program, Karesh shares some of his fascinating, and dangerous, encounters in the wild.
Where There is No Animal Doctor Title: Where There is No Animal Doctor
Author: Dr. Peter Quesenberry and Dr. Maureen Birmingham
Description: This is an amazing manual covering animal functions of all the major domestic animals. This book was developed to benefit rural people in many areas of the world where livestock still play an important role in village life. It deals with many different animal health related topics, including disease prevention, control and treatment, and the promotion of good animal nutrition.
Where There Is No Vet Title: Where There Is No Vet
Author: Bill Forse
Description: Where There is No Vet is more than just a book on first aid for animals. It aims to help people keep their animals healthy. It covers a wide range of topics that affect the health of livestock, from diarrhea to rinderpest, from helpful traditional remedies to the uses of modern medicines and vaccines.
Vetting: The Making of a Veterinarian Title: Vetting: The Making of a Veterinarian
Author: Dr. Pete Freyburger
Description: Dr. Pete Freyburger tells us how he tried, failed, succeeded, and triumphed while serving his community, his family, his friends and animals. This book gives you a great view from the perspective of a new graduate and you will share in the feeling of incredible stress and self-doubt that young professionals must overcome.
All My Patients Have Tales: Favorite Stories from a Vet's Practice Title: All My Patients Have Tales: Favorite Stories from a Vet's Practice
Author: Jeff Wells
Description: This is a fun and light read that all veterinarians can relate to. Have a good laugh and feel the heart-felt stories as told by the author.
Tell Me Where It Hurts: A Day of Humor, Healing, and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon Title: Tell Me Where It Hurts: A Day of Humor, Healing, and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon
Author: Nick Trout
Description: Do you struggle with the various treatment options your patients have and the preconceived notions owners come to you with based on what they have read on the internet? If so, this is a book for you. The author does a great of capturing the issues and ethics of technological advancement, how the internet is changing the way we practice medicine, and the rise in pet cosmetic surgery.