Dr. Gary S. Brown
"I want to make sure I fully understand every aspect of the veterinary students' concerns, their fears, their passions, and their image of the future of veterinary medicine. Then, I can be certain that the AVMA understands and reacts to these appropriately."
— DR. GARY S. BROWN, AVMA VICE PRESIDENT CANDIDATE
Dr. Gary S. Brown wants to take a role in shaping the future of the veterinary profession. That's why the small animal practice owner from Princeton, W.Va., is running for AVMA vice president—the Association's liaison to the Student AVMA and student chapters.
As the only candidate for the office, Dr. Brown is likely to be declared the winner during the AVMA House of Delegates' regular annual session in July. A 1984 graduate of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Brown was president of the West Virginia VMA from 2004-2006 and is his state's representative in the HOD.
Dr. Brown recently spoke to JAVMA News about why he's running for AVMA vice president and what he hopes to achieve while serving in that office.
Q: Why are you running for AVMA vice president?
A: While the AVMA vice presidency is one of the most admired positions of our organization, it is also one of the most challenging with its demanding travel and commitment. I selfishly like being around those who make you better. The highly motivated students and the AVMA leaders charge you to do your best and then improve. I feel the vice president office suits my ability to communicate to the wide array of veterinarians and students. I am also fortunate that my wife, current associates, and staff are ready and very capable to take the increased load my travels and absence will cause.
Q: What do you want to accomplish in the office?
A: I want to make sure I fully understand every aspect of the veterinary students' concerns, their fears, their passions, and their image of the future of veterinary medicine. Then, I can be certain that the AVMA understands and reacts to these appropriately. Also important is making sure the students know just as much about the AVMA and what it does to benefit members. I want to make sure the future AVMA fits and represents the future veterinarian.
Q: What skills and experience do you bring to the job?.
A: Enthusiasm, thirst for learning, and a sense of humor. I have been involved with local, state, and national organized veterinary medicine for many years. Not all students or veterinarians want to be a part of the House of Delegates' formality, but all want to be represented as if they were. I feel that I can communicate well with most veterinarians and students, regardless of their differing interests. I have the desire to devote more than enough time and effort to make sure the future AVMA is the right AVMA.
Q: What are some of the challenges facing veterinary students and recent graduates?
A: Probably the first seven challenges on that list would involve student loans and debts. Others would be career direction, optimal education, job satisfaction, and balancing work and family, as just a few. The list is constantly changing and is individual to each new and future veterinarian.
Q: What will you tell veterinary students about why they should be part of the AVMA?
A: The AVMA wants to improve ALL aspects of veterinary medicine. Students and recent graduates have such an important and unique voice in the future of the AVMA. The AVMA can represent and help them better if they not only become a member but also become an integral part.
Q: What are your thoughts on the low number of veterinary students seeking careers in food supply or public health medicine?
A: I would amend the question to say "the critically low numbers." As the numbers of food animal and public health veterinarians dwindle, the career opportunities in these areas are expanding. I am not sure students have been made aware of all these wonderful opportunities available in these careers. AVMA President Hammer and others continue to be a strong voice in this shortage.
Q: In addition to being the AVMA's liaison to SAVMA and student chapters, you would be a voting member of the Executive Board. What do you see your responsibilities to be in that capacity?
A: I guess I could quote the bylaws, but the Executive Board has the responsibility to feel the pulse of the entire AVMA. Together, all the board members—who represent every single AVMA member—help guide the AVMA and its obligations to its members.