New AVMA strategic plan emphasizes economics

Goals also cover education, welfare, research, and membership
Published on July 13, 2011
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Concerns about the economics of the veterinary profession are an underlying theme of the new AVMA Strategic Plan, which received approval during the June 5-7 meeting of the AVMA Executive Board.

The first strategic goal in the plan is to strengthen the economics of the profession. The other goals address veterinary education, animal welfare, scientific research, and membership participation.

"Economics was certainly the No. 1 concern of every one of our constituents who had something to say," said Dr. Ted Cohn, chair of the Strategic Planning Task Force and District IX representative on the board. "If you really distilled all the economics within this plan, it probably underlies about two-thirds of the plan."

The planning process began with input from the AVMA House of Delegates, volunteers on other AVMA entities, and the general membership about critical issues facing the veterinary profession. The planning task force also incorporated ideas from the recent reports of the AVMA 20/20 Vision Commission and the Task Force on AVMA Programs for Students and Recent Graduates.

In addition to economics, membership engagement is a focus of the new strategic plan. The plan includes the following vision statement: "The American Veterinary Medical Association engages and empowers its members to be the premier authorities and leaders in veterinary medicine."

1. Economics of the profession  

Strategic goals addressing economics and workforce were part of the previous strategic plan, in effect from early 2008 to early 2011. The new plan, effective through 2015, combines the economics and workforce goals into one goal to "strengthen the economics of the veterinary medical profession."   
Part of the new economics goal is for the AVMA to "strengthen veterinary practice profitability and financial well-being." Subsidiary objectives include promoting efficiency in service delivery and encouraging business models that emphasize the client experience. Another objective is to promote the value of veterinary technicians.

The other part of the new economics goal is for the AVMA to "enhance (the) veterinary medical workforce" by balancing the supply of veterinarians with the needs of society.

Among the subsidiary objectives are assessing supply and demand to identify employment opportunities and developing solutions for overserved and underserved market segments.

Another objective is to advocate for recruitment strategies that match enrollment at veterinary colleges with societal and professional needs.  

2. Veterinary education

Like the previous strategic plan, the new strategic plan has a goal addressing veterinary education. 

The new goal statement is for the AVMA, in collaboration with the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges and other organizations, to promote "the development of a sustainable and affordable educational model that graduates competent veterinarians who meet the practice, scientific, global societal, and workforce needs of the 21st century."

Dr. Cohn said much of the education goal has underlying economic elements. Subsidiary objectives include improving efficiency and decreasing costs of veterinary education through methods such as sharing of resources and informing pre-veterinary and veterinary students about the financial obligations of a veterinary education.

Another objective is to support innovations in curricula to prepare veterinary students to be competent and confident in clinical practice upon graduation.  

3. Animal welfare

The new goal for animal welfare has three parts. Part of the goal is for the AVMA to continue advocating for animal welfare.  

One new part of the welfare goal is to increase utilization of veterinary services. Dr. Cohn said this part of the goal is economic in basis to some degree, but it importantly reflects a need for preventive care to maintain animal wellness.

Among the subsidiary objectives are implementing a strategy that orients practitioners toward preventive care and encourages animal owners to utilize veterinary services and researching the decline in utilization of veterinary services in relation to the value of animals to society.

The other new part of the welfare goal is to advocate oversight of veterinary procedures. Dr. Cohn said this part of the goal is a direct response to nonveterinarians providing animal health services such as equine dentistry.

Objectives include informing the public of the importance of veterinary oversight for veterinary procedures and supporting legislation and regulations that require veterinary oversight of paraprofessionals.  

4. Scientific research

The new strategic plan introduces a new goal to advance scientific research and discovery. 

The goal statement is for the AVMA to support "the promotion and appropriate funding of veterinary scientific research and discovery to ensure the advancement of veterinary medical knowledge." 

AVMA Strategic Plan 

Vision: The American Veterinary Medical Association engages and empowers its members to be the premier authorities and leaders in veterinary medicine.
AVMA strategic goals:
  1. Strengthen the economics of the veterinary medical profession
    1. Strengthen veterinary practice profitability and financial well-being
    2. Enhance veterinary medical workforce
  2. Catalyze a transformation of veterinary medical education
  3. Promote animal welfare
    1. Increase utilization of veterinary services
    2. Promote veterinarians as authorities and advocates for animal welfare
    3. Advocate oversight of veterinary medical procedures
  4. Advance scientific research and discovery
  5. Enhance membership participation and engagement 
AVMA core competencies:
  • Serving the needs of member veterinarians
  • Serving as the voice of, and advocate for, the veterinary medical profession and the welfare of animals
  • Serving as a science-based information resource for the veterinary medical profession and the public
  • Setting and preserving professional standards
  • Maintaining the highest standards in association management


Dr. Cohn said the Strategic Planning Task Force added the new research goal largely in light of "the serious lack of funding for veterinary research" and "to emphasize the need for veterinarians to enter into this critical aspect of the profession."

Objectives include promoting greater awareness of the need for sustained and adequate research funding, advocating for increased federal funding for animal health and welfare research, and coordinating public-private partnerships to advance research and increase funding.  

5. Membership participation

The new strategic plan also introduces another new goal: to enhance participation and engagement by the AVMA membership.

"Over the years, AVMA has done an excellent job of talking and speaking to our members, letting them know what we do," Dr. Cohn said. "But we haven't done as good a job as we would like, or we think we should do, as far as listening to our members. This is a member organization; we should be member-driven."

Dr. Cohn said the goal to be more member-driven resulted from the report of the 20/20 Vision Commission as well as "the desires and concerns of many AVMA members." The 20/20 commission developed a vision for the AVMA for the year 2020 (see JAVMA, June 1, 2011).

In the new strategic plan, the goal statement for membership is for the AVMA to enhance participation and engagement of members "through the creation of a culture of inclusion, transparency, and community."

The subsidiary objectives fall into the categories of AVMA structure and processes, AVMA organizational culture, and AVMA programs and services. 

Core competencies

The list of AVMA core competencies differs little from the previous strategic plan to the new strategic plan. 

While the previous plan includes a goal for the AVMA to advocate for the profession in the governmental arena, the new plan incorporates governmental advocacy into the core competency of the AVMA serving as a voice for the profession.

The new strategic plan is available here.