AVMA members and students advocate for the profession

Published on March 19, 2014
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To educate the nation’s policymakers on issues of importance to the veterinary profession, 100 veterinary students and veterinarians gathered Feb. 9-11 in Washington, D.C., to take part in the 2014 AVMA Legislative Fly-in.

Legislative Fly-in attendees
A hundred AVMA members and veterinary students participate in the sixth AVMA Legislative Fly-in. (Photos by R. Scott Nolen)

The two-day event gave participants the chance to learn more about the federal legislative process and urge their members of Congress to support legislation that impacts veterinarians and the health and welfare of animals.

Seventy-one of the participants were students, representing nearly every veterinary college in the United States. The remaining participants were members of the AVMA Executive Board and veterinarians from throughout the country.

Auburn University veterinary student Emily Mysinger talks with Cory Hicks, chief of staff for Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, about horse soring, slaughter, and transportation legislation.

“We are very fortunate at the AVMA to have a well-established Governmental Relations Division based in Washington, D.C., that tracks more than 50 legislative issues on behalf of the Association, but their work can only go so far,” said Dr. Clark K. Fobian, AVMA president. “Our nation’s leaders want to hear how bills in Congress affect their constituents, and the AVMA Legislative Fly-in gives AVMA members and veterinary students a unique opportunity to come to the U.S. Capitol to share their personal experiences and advocate for bills that will enhance the veterinary profession and protect animal health and welfare.”

The participants focused their meetings with elected officials and their staffs on a few high-priority pieces of legislation for the AVMA, including the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act (H.R. 1125/S. 553), the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act (H.R. 1528), the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (H.R. 1518/S. 1406), and the Horse Transportation Safety Act (S. 1459).

“As a second-year veterinary student, it is important to me to take ownership of the veterinary profession and help influence its path forward,” said Emily Mysinger, a student at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. “The value of personally lobbying on behalf of our profession at all levels of government cannot be overstated.

“I will soon be conducting an educational meeting to discuss these acts and how they relate to equine medicine with the AU CVM student chapter of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.”

Dr. Yoho
Dr. Ted Yoho, U.S. representative for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District, speaks on his experiences as a veterinarian on Capitol Hill.

Mysinger and the rest of the fly-in participants also heard from veterinarian and Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida and Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, whose daughter is a student at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

“As veterinarians, we always look at things a little bit differently,” Dr. Yoho said to the participants. “In Washington, I often see Congress giving an aspirin to a brain tumor and not treating the underlying cause, but as veterinarians, we understand how to identify and diagnose the problem so we can treat it effectively. I encourage all of the veterinarians who are participating in AVMA’s Capitol Hill day to stay engaged and get involved in politics because you can help to make America a better country and leave more opportunities for Americans and veterinarians in the future.”