1985 - 1995
This era saw female veterinarians become AVMA editor-in-chief and AVMA president-elect—and a veterinary student become Miss America. Between 1980 and 1994, the percentage of U.S. veterinarians who were women tripled to 28.7 percent, and by fall 1985, female veterinary students outnumbered males.
Shortly after becoming AVMA editor-in-chief Jan. 1, 1985, Dr. Albert Koltveit hired Dr. Janis H. Audin, his eventual successor, to oversee the conversion to desktop publishing. By transitioning the AVMA journals to this in-house production system in the ’90s, she cut lead time and reduced costs. Dr. Audin also created the online format.
Bernadine Clune, a former AVMA production manager, adds, “Dr. Audin’s background in art history contributed to developing the cover art. It just made the journals pop.”
Pop quiz: What year did the JAVMA “yellow pages” cease to exist?
In 1988, an AVMA consultant found the News was not perceived by members as a vital medium of communication and recommended replacing it with a newspaper. Instead, Dr. Koltveit set out to achieve the same reader impact by revitalizing the News.
The revitalized News debuted with the first issue of 1989. Yellow stock or yellow-coated stock, a tradition since 1961, was changed to white to enhance the vividness of expanded artwork in newly created news departments. One of the most popular news departments was Research Roundup. A Jan. 15, 1991, roundup on laser surgery captured an award from the American Society of Association Executives, one of two awards for JAVMA from the ASAE that year. It was the first of six consecutive years the Journal received honors from various national groups.
Vermont maple syrup factored into one of the top news stories—the AVMA’s initiative advocating for a federal law to allow extralabel drug use by veterinarians. The House passed the Senate version after the latter attached the syrup amendment. It was a time of elation, a vote of confidence from Congress in veterinarians’ expertise. President Clinton signed the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act of 1994.
In 1988, Congress had passed a bill that included statutory recognition for the veterinary prescription drug category, another victory. Drug issues, from use of human-label drugs to avoiding residues to compounding, often dominated the news.
Concerned about substance abuse among veterinary students and veterinarians, the AVMA held an impairment seminar and a substance abuse workshop. JAVMA News also reported on assistance programs offered by state VMAs and carried a series on stress in early 1991.
A News section devoted to the mission of World AIDS Day was published Dec. 1, 1992. AIDS had killed almost 30,000 people in 1991. Topics included the bond created between animals and AIDS patients, advances in AIDS research, and an anonymous interview with Dr. Y, who was seropositive for HIV.
After years of debate and subtle changes to its policy on steel-jaw leghold traps, the AVMA in 1993 pronounced the device inhumane. Divergent views were presented in News on ear cropping and tail docking. Endorsement of Spay Day USA in 1995 set off a firestorm, with some AVMA members objecting to the Association collaborating with the animal rights group Doris Day Animal League, even on a common goal.
The AVMA hired a marketing director in 1986 and introduced its clinics on marketing in companion and food animal practice the next year. The Association conducted studies on the various veterinary services markets.
Veterinary disaster relief efforts as well as losses from natural events such as the California earthquake and man-made events such as the Oklahoma City bombing were covered. In 1993, the AVMA adopted an Emergency Preparedness Plan and Response Guide, and the AVMA Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams were established.
Feline injection-site sarcomas and the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in England were among medical issues of concern. Feature subjects in JAVMA News included the rescue of gray whales trapped in polar ice; the late Dr. James Herriot; military veterinarians serving in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield; professor Hank Hannah, creator-author of JAVMA Legal Brief; and AVMA staff, by division.
The profession gained celebrity when, as a veterinary student, Dr. Debbye Turner Bell (Missouri ’91) was crowned Miss America in 1990, and Dr. Martin J. Fettman (Cornell ’80) became the first veterinarian in space in 1993, flying aboard the shuttle Columbia and carrying two AVMA flags. Another crowning event was the election of the first female AVMA president-elect, Dr. Mary Beth Leininger (Purdue ’67), in 1995.