Delegates vote against restructuring council

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The AVMA House of Delegates July 13 voted against a restructuring of the Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents that would have opened up some positions to more than just private practitioners.

The proposed bylaws amendment would have added two new members and changed the requirements for other members. If the amendment had been approved, the council would have had 12 members instead of 10, with new categories for immunology, clinical pharmacology, epidemiology, and industry.

What held up the amendment, however, was a change in the wording for three of the other positions. The positions that represent private practice, predominantly small animal; private practice, predominantly food animal; and private practice, predominantly equine would have been changed to clinical practice, predominantly small animal; clinical practice, predominantly food animal; and clinical practice, predominantly equine.

Some delegates expressed concern, though, that replacing the term private with clinical would open these positions to practitioners employed by the government, universities, or industry. They feared that veterinarians in private practice, who often have busy practices and may not publish research articles or develop expertise in a certain area, might have a difficult time winning council elections if their opponents came from the public sector.

Resolution 4, which did earn HOD approval, will initiate a bylaws amendment to come forward in 2002 that will change the descriptions of these three council positions from private practice to private clinical practice. If the submitted bylaws amendment and resolution had passed this year, council membership would have increased to 12 seats, and the clinical practice designation would have remained until the HOD approved a new bylaws amendment resulting from approval of Resolution 4. Delegates in Reference Committee 4 ultimately decided that this would be too risky and might be misinterpreted by other AVMA members.

"It seems to me that we have to be a little bit concerned about how this plays out to the membership that isn't privy to these kinds of conversations," Dr. Charles J. Farho, alternate delegate from the American Association of Industrial Veterinarians, said in the reference committee meeting. "When this comes out that 'private' was taken out of the description—even though everybody here seems to understand why—there's 68,000 veterinarians out there who aren't privy to the discussion. I think the wrong message would go out to those members."

Some delegates suggested introducing a new bylaws amendment next year that would change the structure of the council but not the terminology. Until that occurs, though, the council stays at 10 members, and the three seats in question remain designated as private practice, predominantly small animal; private practice, predominantly food animal; and private practice, predominantly equine.