For VP candidate, student debt and wellness are key

Grace Bransford ready to make lasting impression on students
Published on June 13, 2018

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Dr. Grace Bransford will be the next AVMA vice president.

Dr. Bransford
Dr. Grace Bransford speaks at the 2017 Candidates' Introductory Breakfast in Indianapolis.

As the only candidate for the office of 2018-20 AVMA vice president, the small animal practice owner from San Anselmo, California, is a shoo-in when the AVMA House of Delegates holds elections during its regular annual session this July in Denver.

The vice president is a voting member of the Board of Directors and the AVMA's official liaison to the Student AVMA and its student chapters.

Veterinary medicine is a second career for Dr. Bransford, who previously worked in advertising. A 1998 graduate of the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, she has served on such AVMA entities as the 20/20 Vision Commission, the Task Force on Governance and Member Participation, and the Council on Veterinary Service.

Here she talks with JAVMA News about the AVMA vice presidents who influenced her as a student at UC-Davis and how she hopes to do likewise with students.

Why do you want to be AVMA vice president?

When I was a student, AVMA vice presidents visiting UC-Davis where I was in school made a lasting impression on me. They helped provide a sense of what lay ahead in the profession, provided inspiration, and prompted my curiosity and ultimately my involvement with AVMA.

Dr. Allen Miyahara from Hawaii, in particular, became a mentor I often visited and stayed in touch with until his passing. Drs. Tom Kendall and Jack Walther—also past vice presidents and from my district—told me about their experiences visiting veterinary schools throughout the country. They told me about the knowledge they shared with the students and, in turn, what knowledge the students shared with them. It sounded like an amazing experience.

Many other past AVMA vice presidents whom I am happy to count as my friends and colleagues have told me this was one of the best volunteer jobs they had experienced in the AVMA, if not the best. I think that pretty much sums up why, but I would like to add I would be honored to contribute to the legacy of the office of AVMA vice president.

What experience and skills do you bring to the job?

Along with the experience of being an associate and then later a small animal practice owner, I had a previous career in advertising and marketing that lasted 10 years. I learned strategic thinking, developed strong oral and written communication skills, worked with all types of people both domestically and internationally, and made significant contributions to my various clients' businesses. I also know what it's like to make a career transition, in this case from advertising to veterinary medicine, and how simultaneously it can be extremely exciting and frightening. I think these skills and experiences, along with 20 years of AVMA volunteer leadership experience, have prepared me well for the vice presidency.

The chance to learn more about what lies ahead after veterinary school and to hear about the experiences that can be had and the friendships that can be made by volunteering with AVMA was priceless. ... It made a difference to hear (Dr. Miyahara's) voice, to see the twinkle in his eye, to feel his energy.

Dr. Grace Bransford, candidate for 2018-20 AVMA vice president

What do you hope to accomplish as vice president?

I want to continue to push forward on the important issues of debt and wellness. These issues are not going away anytime soon for students, and we need to keep working together to help create solutions to these problems. It will take a collective out-of-the-box kind of thinking to tackle these issues. I hope that my previous career experience and my desire to work collaboratively with the many entities that have a stake in the profession's future will help move us on the path forward towards resolution.

What should AVMA leadership and veterinary students know about you?

I see life as an endless adventure. I love learning new things, meeting new people, and visiting places I have never been before. I love to travel and have been to most continents, but there are still a few I haven't seen. In spite of that, I am deeply rooted and live in the town in California that I grew up in. My girlfriend from sixth grade lives across the street from me. And when I was younger, I was a competitive figure skater.

Why is the AVMA's outreach to veterinary students important and necessary?

Just like that first meeting I had with Dr. Miyahara and his wife, Sue, the chance to learn more about what lies ahead after veterinary school and to hear about the experiences that can be had and the friendships that can be made by volunteering with AVMA was priceless. I wouldn't have learned it the way that I did from a magazine or a flyer. It made a difference to hear his voice, to see the twinkle in his eye, to feel his energy. To learn what AVMA can do and what opportunities lie within AVMA is so important for students to be exposed to. To be involved in something that is bigger than yourself and to know your contributions help drive the future of the profession. Students are our future, and their involvement with AVMA is critical.

Is there anything else you want to discuss?

We have one of the best jobs on the planet. Advertising had its exciting moments, but knowing that I get to help people and animals every day in my work keeps me going. I know we are all helping make the world a better place, something I really didn't feel in my advertising job. I hope to help inspire and encourage students to make the incredible contributions I know they can for our profession. It is a tremendous thing we all do.​​