Students tackle financial challenges

SAVMA HOD makes economic issues a priority, receives corporate funding report
Published on April 18, 2012
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By R. Scott Nolen

The Student AVMA is stepping up efforts to help students manage the rising costs of veterinary education and expand their business and personal finance knowledge.

Meeting March 15-16 at Purdue University for the veterinary student organization's national symposium, the SAVMA House of Delegates passed a number of proposals from its Task Force on Economic Issues.

The SAVMA HOD also received the findings of its task force considering the ethical implications of veterinary colleges accepting corporate funding. The task force concluded that, given the various levels of corporate interaction at the colleges, it is best left up to the individual institutions to establish policies applicable to their particular circumstances.

The task force report included a template letter the AVMA student chapters can use to begin a dialogue with their college administration about corporate interactions.

Much of the two-day SAVMA HOD session was devoted to veterinary economic matters. Delegates approved Task Force on Economic Issues plans to feature scholarships on the SAVMA website and to provide funding support for AVMA student chapters to raise awareness among government officials about the consequences of cutting budgets for veterinary colleges.

The HOD voted to encourage collaboration between SAVMA and the Veterinary Business Management Association so that students receive current and comprehensive information on veterinary economic issues.

Additionally, delegates designated $4,000 for a SAVMA liaison to national organizations, such as the AVMA, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, and VBMA, as they address veterinary economic issues and the costs of education.

Students passed this recommendation to ensure the organization's participation, and representation of the student voice, in decisions and actions relating to economics, SAVMA President Bridget Heilsberg explained.

"Currently, we are working on figuring out what, exactly, the responsibilities of this delegate will be," Heilsberg said, "but I am very excited about what this means for SAVMA's involvement in addressing veterinary economic issues."

One possibility the SAVMA will explore for its liaison is working with the AVMA's Veterinary Economics Strategy Committee and the Veterinary Economics Division, once it's up and running.

AVMA Vice President Jan Strother, the Association's liaison to SAVMA and the student chapters of the AVMA, sees value in students being part of initiatives affecting their financial future.

"Students are an incredibly important stakeholder relative to the economic issues affecting our profession," Dr. Strother said. "It is my hope that SAVMA's unique perspective and creative problem-solving skills will be used in a broad way in all current and future AVMA economic initiatives."

Heilsberg plans on spending the next year as SAVMA president increasing the organization's presence at each of the veterinary colleges. The third-year veterinary student at Colorado State University wants to strengthen the bond between SAVMA and the school chapters as well.

"I will also be focusing on improving SAVMA's liaison relationships with other veterinary organizations as well as working with the AAVMC to increase the diversity within SAVMA and SCAVMA leadership and participation," Heilsberg said.

In other business, the SAVMA HOD elected the following 2012-2013 student officers: Elise Ackley, Louisiana State University, president-elect; Steen Smith, Oregon State University, international exchange officer-elect; and Randal Scott Dudis, Cornell University, global public health officer-elect.

On the final night of the SAVMA Symposium, A. Nikki Wright, University of Pennsylvania, won the John Pitts Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession from the SAVMA for her efforts to promote diversity and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer acceptance among students.