Education, advocacy, and diversity are Corry's priorities
I will work tirelessly to help ensure that we reach out to the under-represented groups to attract them to our great profession, that we better understand the diverse clientele we already serve, and that we reach a point where other organizations point to the AVMA and the veterinary profession as models of how to embrace diversity.
—DR. LARRY R. CORRY, 2009-2010 AVMA PRESIDENT
Dr. Larry R. Corry, the 2009-2010 AVMA president, addressed the House of Delegates during its regular annual session July 10 in Seattle, saying education, advocacy, and diversity will be his priorities during his time as the Association's highest elected officer.
The incoming president pledged to spend the coming year working with the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges to help ensure that veterinary education standards remain high and that graduates are competent, fulfilled, and adequately paid.
Dr. Corry will work closely with the AVMA lobby—the Governmental Relations Division—in support of the Association's federal legislative agenda. Lawmakers, he explained, should understand the important roles veterinarians play in the economy, food safety, and homeland security.
"Congress must not lose sight of the value veterinarians bring to the table in terms of biomedical research, nation building, and global health," Dr. Corry said.
Although he plans to focus mainly on federal legislation, Dr. Corry promised not to neglect the states. Many of the issues in Washington, D.C., started within the state legislatures, he said, and many state VMAs are facing challenges to their practice acts, livestock policies and guidelines, and business environment.
"I will be of help when asked, and where I can," Dr. Corry said.
Increasing diversity within the profession is another of Dr. Corry's goals as president. "(W)e will be remiss if we do not develop and implement solutions which make veterinary medicine a diverse profession which genuinely reflects the population of this great nation," he said.
Dr. Corry intends on shepherding along that process to foster its development, and on becoming its "evangelist."
"I will work tirelessly to help ensure that we reach out to the under-represented groups to attract them to our great profession," he said, "that we better understand the diverse clientele we already serve, and that we reach a point where other organizations point to the AVMA and the veterinary profession as models of how to embrace diversity."
The Buford, Ga., resident has served on the AVMA Executive Board since 2002 when he was elected to represent District IV (Florida, Georgia, and Puerto Rico). Dr. Corry served as board chair prior to his election to the office of AVMA president-elect during the HOD regular annual session in New Orleans last year.
Dr. Corry's career spans years in public and private practice. After receiving his DVM degree in 1966 from the University of Georgia, Dr. Corry served two years in the U.S. Air Force Veterinary Corps. He later entered private practice, and he currently owns two small animal practices.
Along with his participation in the AVMA, Dr. Corry has been engaged in organized veterinary medicine at the state level, including a term as president of the Georgia VMA in 1981.
Dr. Corry told the HOD that no one, not even the AVMA, has been untouched by the current economic crisis. But he credited the AVMA strategic goals with keeping the Association strong during the tumult.
Each of these goals—political advocacy, leadership on animal welfare issues, promoting the profession's economic viability, upholding the AVMA Council on Education accreditation process, and addressing veterinary workforce shortages—is equally important and deserves the undivided attention of AVMA staff, leaders, and members, he explained.
"Now you would think that in tough times, some of these goals might get ignored, if for no other reason than the current economic climate. But I can assure you that each is going forward with great vigor," Dr. Corry said.
To support his point, Dr. Corry noted the success of the AVMA outreach program to law schools, which informs future lawyers and judges of the Association's views on such topics as pet guardianship and noneconomic damages.
The AVMA Congressional Advocacy Network has more than 2,700 members ready to contact their representatives in Washington, D.C., in support of the Association's legislative priorities, according to Dr. Corry, who pointed out that the AVMA has testified before Congress seven times since 2008.
Dr. Corry highlighted a number of animal welfare initiatives. For instance, the AVMA is hosting the Joint Animal Welfare Symposium with the AAVMC this fall at Michigan State University. The Animal Welfare Division recently appointed experts to begin the work of updating the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia.
The AVMA is currently surveying members of the Student AVMA and the public about their attitudes on animal welfare so the Association can better craft its message to reach these audiences.
On the economic front, Dr. Corry highlighted the AVMA's partnership with the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues to measure the economic viability and sustainability of the profession. The Association is also working to correct income inequalities of government veterinarians as well as address workforce shortages.
Other AVMA activities Dr. Corry mentioned included the Association's participation in a national consortium aimed at keeping the core competencies of graduating veterinary students relevant to societal needs. The AVMA is also exploring the possibility of establishing a single, independent program to assess the educational equivalence of graduates from non-AVMA-accredited colleges.
In addition, the Association has been collaborating with a National Academy of Sciences committee on its study "Assessing current and future workforce needs in veterinary medicine." Once the report is published, most likely in the fall, the AVMA will do an in-depth analysis to determine future AVMA workforce tactics, Dr. Corry said.
Dr. Corry spoke about the importance of AVMA members to the Association, especially volunteer leaders serving on councils and committees, which he called the "backbone" of the AVMA.
"It's not the Executive Board that develops policies and guidelines. It's councils and committees. It's not leadership that determines our legislative initiatives. It's councils and committees. It's not the Executive Board that develops our standards and goals. It's councils and committees," he said.
"AVMA members are our foundation," he continued. "And without their active participation in the Association, we will lose the leadership position we have attained as the world's top-tier veterinary medical organization."