AVMA looks to strengthen ties with veterinary students

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The Executive Board has approved a series of measures aimed at strengthening the Association's relationship with veterinary students.

The Task Force on Future Roles and Expectations recommended to the board several ways the Association could increase its interaction with students. Proposals with the same goal were also made by Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, AVMA CEO, and the Member Outreach Task Force.

The board's approval of these measures is in keeping with action by the AVMA House of Delegates, which in July 2008 passed a resolution calling on the Association to be more proactive in the area of AVMA veterinary student relations (see JAVMA, Sept. 1, 2008).

Drs. Hammer and Aspros
Dr. Gregory S. Hammer (left), AVMA immediate past president, discusses a recommendation by the Task Force on Future Roles and Expectations. At right is Dr. Douglas G. Aspros

At its April meeting, the board approved a strategic approach for AVMA outreach to all veterinarians, but particularly to veterinary students and recent graduates, for the purpose of membership recruitment and retention.

As part of the new approach, approved member outreach programs and activities should comply with the following criteria: provide benefits (tangible or intangible) to all AVMA members, promote member retention, and improve visibility of the Association. Existing and available programs that meet these criteria should use contemporary technology to effectively communicate with the target audience.

In addition, programs should be developed that encourage and allow increased participation of underrepresented gender, generational, and racial and ethnic groups. Programs should also communicate the value of AVMA membership as well as the AVMA's appreciation of its members' support.

Also approved by the board was a charge to the AVMA/American Society of Veterinary Medical Association Executives Joint Committee to develop and conduct a survey of state veterinary medical associations/societies to determine how each state interacts with veterinary students. The findings will be used by the board to determine how the AVMA and state VMAs can cooperatively and more effectively present the value of organized veterinary medicine to the students.

The relationship between the Association and veterinary students is managed mostly by the Membership and Field Services Division and the AVMA vice president. The Task Force on Future Roles and Expectations believes their work is valuable but also thinks that the AVMA/student relationship can be improved and the Association's visibility enhanced by using outside speakers to give talks on relevant subjects. Board members approved $5,000 to cover honorariums and travel costs of those speakers.

The board passed three new provisions pertaining to veterinary students in the AVMA Travel Policy. The provisions are as follows:

AVMA representatives who visit veterinary colleges/schools are encouraged to promote cooperation between the AVMA and state veterinary medical associations/societies. This may include joint presentations to students that explain the value of organized veterinary medicine and encourage participation in both state and national organizations.

Executive Board members are authorized, but not required, to attend two SAVMA Symposiums during their terms of office—one during the first three years of their term, and the other during the last three years of their term. The Executive Board Chair will ensure that adequate Executive Board representation is present at each Symposium, but not to exceed five Executive Board members, including officers, at each year's Symposium.

All Executive Board members or staff who visit a veterinary college/school are encouraged to visit with the faculty, in addition to the Student Chapter of the AVMA (SCAVMA) faculty advisors, where possible and feasible, to broaden the relationship between faculty and organized veterinary medicine.

On a related note, the board approved spending an additional $2,400 for a total of $16,000 a year for food and soft drinks for students at the annual veterinary school visits by the vice president or staff.