Attendees at the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference in January 2016 prepare for a workshop involving audience participation. In June, the AVMA Board of Directors received a report with recommendations to improve the annual conference. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)
The AVMA Board of Directors, while meeting June 20-21 in Washington, D.C., took on topics across the breadth of the profession, including improvement of the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference, establishment of an AVMA strategy on antimicrobials, the appropriate age for feline sterilization, veterinary medicine in offshore aquaculture, and the meaning of the "organic" label.
On June 20, members of the Board visited Capitol Hill to advocate on behalf of veterinarians' interests. Highlights of the key issues that the AVMA is prioritizing during the 115th Congress are available on the AVMA website. On June 21, the Board conducted its business meeting.
Veterinary Leadership Conference
The Board received the report of the AVMA Task Force on the Veterinary Leadership Conference. Per the report, the task force "believes that the VLC is a premier event in the veterinary profession and has a unique niche in leadership development" because the conference combines AVMA governance meetings, networking opportunities, and formal leadership training.
Recommendations for improvement include the following:
- A more innovative continuing education program and use of governing meetings as platforms for discussion.
- Levels of programming tailored to the needs of individual veterinary professionals on the basis of not only career stage but also appropriate leadership skill-set growth and development.
- Novel structured or facilitated networking sessions.
- Ongoing contact with attendees after the meeting ends.
- Increasing of attendance to no more than 700.
- Integration of the VLC into the development of an overall AVMA leadership certificate program.
The Board approved the "AVMA Strategic Approach to Antimicrobials" developed by the AVMA Committee on Antimicrobials. The goals of the approach are as follows:
- The AVMA works collaboratively with stakeholders across animal and human health to embrace shared values to build consensus on antimicrobial stewardship, provides leadership on antimicrobial use and mitigating resistance, and serves as a trusted source of information for both internal and external stakeholders.
- The AVMA promotes antimicrobial stewardship through the development of core principles to support AVMA allied organizations in their development of species-specific stewardship and/or clinical guidance.
- The AVMA supports veterinary oversight of antimicrobial use by providing resources for members, developing and implementing policy, and engaging in legislative and regulatory advocacy.
On the recommendation of the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee, the Board approved endorsing the "Veterinary Task Force on Feline Sterilization Recommendations for Age of Spay and Neuter Surgery."
The Fix by Five Months program from Marian's Dream, a nonprofit that aims to end dog and cat overpopulation, convened a task force of veterinarians and other experts in January 2016. According to the recommendations, "Given the known benefits of sterilization and the lack of evidence for harm related to age at which the procedure is performed, the Veterinary Task Force on Feline Sterilization calls for veterinary practitioners and professional associations to recommend sterilization of cats by five months of age."
The recommendations also have been endorsed by the American Association of Feline Practitioners, the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, the American Animal Hospital Association, the Winn Feline Foundation, the CATalyst Council, the Cat Fanciers' Association, and The International Cat Association.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently has opened offshore U.S. waters outside state jurisdiction in the Gulf of Mexico to the potential for aquaculture. NOAA also is in the process of opening other offshore waters to aquaculture.
The Board approved a recommendation from the AVMA Aquatic Veterinary Medicine Committee that the AVMA host a two-day meeting in the second half of 2018 for regulatory authorities and other key stakeholders to discuss issues surrounding the practice of veterinary medicine in U.S. waters that are not under the jurisdiction of any state, tribal, or territorial authority.
On the recommendation of the AVMA Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee, the Board approved adding a bullet point to the policy on "Truthful and Nonmisleading Human Food Labeling." According to the new point, "Consumers should be aware that a label of 'organic' is not in itself an indication of practices that are beneficial to animal welfare or the environment."
A separate AVMA policy on "Organic Foods" states that "an organic label should not be interpreted as an assurance of increased food safety."