Dr. Robert W. Nichols III joined the AVMA staff Nov. 7 as assistant director of the Governmental Relations Division in Washington, D.C. He succeeds Dr. Raymond Stock, who served in the position for two years. Dr. Nichols' portfolio of responsibilities will include the economic and educational issues of the veterinary profession.
Within his first week as assistant director, Dr. Nichols began lobbying members of the House of Representatives and Senate to pass legislation of highest priority to the veterinary profession as determined by the AVMA Legislative Advisory Committee. Specifically, he began lobbying for the Veterinary Workforce Expansion Act (H.R. 2206/S. 914), a competitive federal grant program designed to alleviate a shortage of veterinarians in public health practice and biomedical research, and the Association Health Plan bill (H.R. 525/S. 1955), which would expand health insurance options for veterinarians and their staff.
Dr. Nichols also began formulating recommendations for the rules of the newly appropriated National Veterinary Medical Service Act (P.L. 108-161), which he petitioned members of Congress to support during his position as a student extern at the AVMA GRD in 2002. The act, established as a pilot program for 2006, will provide student loan repayment to veterinary school graduates who agree to work in underserved areas of the country.
"This is a unique opportunity to promote and improve the financial health of the profession, which is essential if we're going to continue to attract our share of society's most talented people," Dr. Nichols said about his new position.
Prior to joining the AVMA, Dr. Nichols, a third-generation veterinarian, served as an associate veterinarian at Alpine Animal Hospital in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. Before that, he held the same position at Pacific Palisades Veterinary Center in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Dr. Nichols earned his DVM degree from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2003. While at Cornell, he served as the student assistant of the Cornell University Hospital for Animals' radiology section, student ambassador for the college's public affairs office, and social chair of the student chapter of the AVMA.
"Animals enrich human life in many different ways, and veterinarians are vital in protecting and strengthening that enrichment," Dr. Nichols said about why he became a veterinarian. "Also, I enjoy being a member of such a highly respected profession. Our ethical reputation is a gift from the generations of veterinarians who've come before us, and I'm honored to be a part of that tradition."