AVMA eases membership requirements

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AVMA leaders have reduced the requirements for joining the Association, intending to eliminate processes that slowed entry of qualified veterinarians.

AVMA membership card

In January, the AVMA House of Delegates voted to eliminate a requirement that applicants for AVMA membership meet one of the following criteria: be a member of an organization represented in the HOD, be a diplomate of a veterinary specialty recognized by the American Board of Veterinary Specialties, gain endorsements from two voting members of the AVMA, or graduate as a member of an organization represented in the Student AVMA House of Delegates. Applicants for voting membership will still need to graduate from a veterinary college or school, agree to pay dues, and abide by the AVMA Bylaws, rules, and Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics.

The AVMA Executive Board had proposed the change.

Dr. Kevin Dajka, director of the AVMA Membership and Field Services Division, said during an HOD reference committee meeting prior to the House vote that the proposal was intended to remove barriers that were preventing qualified veterinarians from quickly joining the Association.

He noted that, in the past 10 years, only two of about 12,000 applicants for membership were rejected. He questioned why the Association was making the application process difficult for veterinarians, given those statistics.

The change also eliminates the associate member category, leaving only voting and affiliate membership. The latter is granted to nonveterinarians who teach veterinary medicine or related sciences or engage in veterinary research.

With the proposal to change the bylaws, a statement from the Executive Board indicates, in part, that the AVMA membership categories were inconsistent in residence requirements. Voting members, who account for more than 99 percent of members, could live in any country, yet the AVMA had a separate category for associate members who resided outside the U.S.

Asked whether the change in membership requirements would let members become AVMA president even if they weren’t U.S. citizens, Dr. Dajka said the current bylaws place no citizenship-based restrictions on holding AVMA office.

The change also will make it easier for some veterinarians who left the AVMA to become members again. Those who want to rejoin can still avoid the application process by paying dues for missed years, but those who do not want to pay for missed periods will go through the now-simpler application process.

Dr. Edward W. Jendrek, alternate delegate from Maryland, said he would prefer that those who dropped membership be required to pay past dues for years since membership to rejoin. He noted that otherwise, veterinarians could spend years as nonmembers, yet become delegates on rejoining.

Dr. Thomas F. Meyer, Executive Board Chair, said he would prefer to have those veterinarians “in the family” as members rather than deciding against joining because of the cost of back dues.

The full House passed the proposal with no discussion and with 93 percent of delegates voting in favor of the change.