Preventive care: good for animals and the profession

New AVMA president sees AVMA as vital to profession’s health
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The veterinary profession is in constant peril, and, like any animal patient, in need of preventive care. So says Dr. Clark K. Fobian, incoming AVMA president.

Dr. Fobian
AVMA President Clark K. Fobian, surrounded by his predecessors in the “hall of presidents,” believes the Association protects the health of veterinary profession through its many services.

Speaking during the AVMA House of Delegates regular annual session July 19 in Chicago, the companion animal practitioner from Sedalia, Mo., likened the veterinary profession to a puppy whose health is protected through preventive care. In Dr. Fobian’s analogy, the profession is the puppy, and the AVMA is the veterinarian ensuring its well-being.

“There is a perpetual barrage of regulatory, legislative, tax revenue–generating, technological, and societal threats that can impede the veterinarian’s ability to practice medicine,” he explained. “Our profession, like the susceptible puppy, is in constant peril, and like the puppy, we as a profession need appropriate preventive care.

“I contend that the AVMA provides this protection.”

The HOD elected Dr. Fobian AVMA president-elect in 2012, and on July 23, he succeeded Dr. Douglas G. Aspros as the Association’s president on the final day of the AVMA Annual Convention in Chicago. Dr. Fobian has approximately 30 years of experience as a mixed and small animal veterinarian. The University of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine alum has served on the AVMA Executive Board since 2006 and is a former chair of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.

Dr. Fobian described the AVMA as a “highly successful organization” by most standards, representing more than 80 percent of the nation’s veterinary profession. The Association’s membership share has been higher, however, leading him to question why some veterinarians see no value in AVMA membership.

Instead of ignoring these nonmembers, Dr. Fobian believes it is necessary to step up efforts to educate them and recent graduates about the important services provided by the Association. “We cannot be complacent when it comes to member recruitment,” he said. “The AVMA needs an ongoing commitment to sell its services to the veterinary community, just like the veterinarian has an ongoing commitment of selling his or her services to the animal-owning public.”

Along with serving as the voice of veterinarians, the AVMA excels as a powerful advocate for veterinarians and animals in Congress and in the state assemblies, according to Dr. Fobian. He also noted the AVMA is a founding member of the Partners for Healthy Pets, which is in the early stages of a national campaign promoting preventive pet care.

Another way the AVMA is working on behalf of the profession is through its recent efforts to better understand the markets for U.S. veterinary labor and services. In addition to conducting a major study of the U.S. veterinary workforce, the AVMA established a Veterinary Economics Division to collect and study economic data pertaining to the profession for the purpose of relieving the financial pressure felt by many veterinarians.

“I could go on and on about how AVMA is an unparalleled organization. However, my concluding sentiments are quite simple: Let us remember who we are as a profession, what we do as a profession, and why we find it in our hearts to do the things we do,” Dr. Fobian said.

“Our members think they want various benefits from the AVMA, be that insurance, a convention, or a journal,” he concluded. “But ultimately, what they need is a healthy and sustainable profession, and that is the most important member benefit AVMA strives to provide.”