A message of support, backed by funding

Nearly $250,000 going to student chapters of the AVMA
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Veterinary students will get more direct support starting this year as a result of a joint initiative involving the AVMA, the AVMA PLIT, and the Student AVMA.

The program is called ALL for Students, with ALL being an acronym for Achieving, Leading, Learning.

The AVMA and AVMA PLIT are each contributing $100,000 in 2013. SAVMA is kicking in $33,000 this year. That means each of the 32 student chapters of the AVMA and the one associate organization in the SAVMA House of Delegates will receive $7,000 this year.

Dr. Hall
Dr. Derrick D. Hall, AVMA assistant director for student affairs, announces the All for Students program during the SCAVMA Leadership Conference, Sept. 20, at AVMA headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

Checks were presented at the SCAVMA Leadership Conference, Sept. 20, at AVMA headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill.

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation will distribute the funds this fall, and Dr. Derrick D. Hall, AVMA assistant director for student affairs, will coordinate the program.

Dr. Janet D. Donlin, CEO of AVMA PLIT, said her organization believes SAVMA has done an excellent job in preparing students for success in their careers, particularly in terms of leadership development for the profession.

“So this is a way to help formalize our thoughts and provide them this visible support at what can be a challenging time with sponsorship dollars for the organizations,” Dr. Donlin said.

“They are such a strong organization in terms of being the foundation organization at the schools, and they also do a lot to foster activities for other student organizations, such as the (Veterinary Business Management Association) and student chapters of the American Animal Hospital Association and American Associ­ation of Equine Practitioners, for example.”

Student chapters of the AVMA will be expected to submit an annual report detailing how they spend the money, among other stipulations. The main categories for use of funding are community outreach events, professional development events, wellness, and leadership. This pilot program may be extended, contingent on evaluation results of the program.

Student chapters of the AVMA host many activities throughout the year to engage veterinary students, their campuses, and their communities. The SCAVMA at Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine hosts the annual Ride the Heart Charity Bike Ride, a one-health event. All donations go toward the Olive K. Britt Endowment, which helps provide emergency veterinary care for low-income families at the Oregon State small animal hospital, and the Johnson Dental Clinic through the Boys & Girls Club of Corvallis, which provides dental care for children of low-income families in the community. (Photos courtesy of Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine)

Lawrence “Al” Claiborne, SAVMA treasurer, said one positive aspect of the initiative is that it allows each student chapter to decide where its focus needs to be, as each campus and community is different.

The AVMA student chapter at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, which Claiborne attends, hosts an open house every year with other veterinary student organizations.

“It becomes a statewide activity, with visitors from across Tennessee. Usually we have 3,000 to 4,000 visitors that day. There are activities for kids, a parade of breeds for horses and dogs, and we have educational activities for people on what we do here at the veterinary college that promotes health for humans and animals,” he said.

Claiborne anticipates the funding will have a positive impact on the chapters by supplementing activities that benefit not only veterinary students but also their campuses and communities.

PLIT is looking forward to seeing the tangible results that come from the funding, Dr. Donlin said.

“The chapters will provide reports and share what works or what other chapters could be doing, too. That networking will help take this to the next level. Each one doesn’t have to keep inventing the wheel,” Dr. Donlin said. “Plus, it benefits us veterinarians to know what they’re doing and gain an appreciation for that.”

Dr. Ted Cohn, AVMA president-elect, said the funding sends a message of support for students, who are the future of the Association and the profession, “to let them know we believe in them.”

“This helps them at a time when costs are going up and corporate funding has decreased,” he said.

Chapters are getting less direct support from multiple sources, Dr. Hall confirmed. “With the downturn in the economy, industry is not giving them as much in sponsorship. Fundraisers are not working as well, also due to the slow economy. And some schools have implemented policies where industry cannot give direct funding to the students and SCAVMA, and must follow more regulations when interacting with students,” he said.

The AVMA supports student chapters in a variety of other ways, such as providing AVMA staff support, helping fund the Student AVMA Educational Symposium, and sending the AVMA vice president on visits with the deans and chapters.

Student chapters of the AVMA ...

... were first formed in 1926. Through the years, they have grown in number and scope. In 1969 came the formation of their national organization, the Student American Veterinary Medical Association. Today, the Student AVMA has 32 chapters (28 in the U.S. and four international—St. George’s University, Ross University, Atlantic Veterinary College, and the University of Glasgow) and one student associate organization (St. Matthew’s University). In all, SAVMA claims more than 13,000 veterinary student members, representing over 93 percent of U.S. veterinary students. Membership in SAVMA has grown steadily over the past seven years (see chart).