Officers on the road

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Officers on the road is a monthly feature of the JAVMA News, designed to let AVMA members know about the issues their leadership is addressing.

Officers on the road


What are your primary goals as you begin your tenure as president?

 AVMA President
Dr. Jack O. Walther

I have three bywords: continuity, communications, and legislation.

I plan to continue programs that started before my presidency, including the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues and the mentoring program. I would also like to continue existing initiatives aimed at boosting veterinarians' involvement in homeland security, addressing gender and generational issues, and globalization.

I'm going to recommend we form a communications task force to look at the communications of AVMA and the entire profession. I think we do a really good job now, but methods of communication are changing so quickly, it's time to bring a cross section of experts together to evaluate our future needs. We need to have them look at all our communication challenges and make recommendations to the profession for solutions. That's my number one goal.

My legislative goals have two parts: federal and state legislation. We have a number of opportunities in Washington to explore. We need to get veterinarians more involved in national politics and federal agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service and its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Department of Homeland Security. These are areas where there are a number of opportunities for veterinarians to be in leadership positions.

I also want to focus more on Congress to make sure we have an opportunity to promote legislation that will benefit the profession. I'm going to encourage the AVMA to become a member of more coalitions. There are a number of opportunities for us to join forces with groups that may not always be on our side of every issue. We should work together when we are on the same side of an issue. For example, the AVMA has recently worked with the Humane Society of the United States to gain its support for the Minor Use and Minor Species Animal Health Act.

The other part of my legislative agenda is to help develop the AVMA's methodology for dealing with state legislation that effects the veterinary profession and animals. We have to be cautious here, because all politics are local. The only organizations that can deal with state legislature and expect to be effective are the state organizations. To produce the desired results, there is going to have to be a partnership between AVMA and state veterinary medical associations.

Are your goals based on the requests of AVMA members and the profession as a whole?

Absolutely. Over the past year, knowing that I was going to be suggesting some programs, I have had the opportunity to speak with a huge number of members.

The state legislative program is something some members of the AVMA leadership have been working on for a while, knowing we were going to have to do something.

As far as communications, that's something that has been in the back of my head for two or three years. I've talked to students, faculty, deans, and people in every sector of the profession.