Communication between the AVMA and its members weighs on the mind of Dr. John Howe, a retired mixed animal practitioner from Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and the AVMA's new president.
In his address to the AVMA House of Delegates on Aug. 2 in Washington, D.C., Dr. Howe said that, thanks to the Association's "greatly improved" communications efforts, membership and member satisfaction rates are at all-time highs and many lapsed members have recently returned to the AVMA fold.
Still, more can be done.
"We must continue communicating to our members what this Association can do and is doing for them to drive those numbers even higher," Dr. Howe said. "This involves, in part, making your constituents feel empowered and engaged by seeking their opinions about important issues addressed during our Veterinary Information Forums.
"It also involves spreading the word about important AVMA perks like the world-class continuing education opportunities we have available here at the AVMA Convention, as well as the Veterinary Leadership Conference, and our new digital education platform AVMA Axon."
Dr. Howe praised the veterinarians and veterinary technicians in the U.S. uniformed services for their work and dedication. "Whether it's general practice or specialty fields or all areas of public health, we have the best trained military veterinarians in the world, and we are all indebted to them for their service and are proud of their efforts," he said.
For that reason, Dr. Howe wants to see the general's star restored to the chief of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps. A brigadier general has led the Veterinary Corps for much of its existence. A provision in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 allowed an officer of lesser rank to be appointed corps chief, however.
When the Veterinary Corps is part of discussions about policy and other issues, it's important that its chief officer have the authority and status needed to carry out its mission, Dr. Howe explained.
Dr. Howe singled out an important member of the veterinary health care team, saying "Our profession would not be what it is today without the support of veterinary technicians." He commended delegates for requesting that the Board of Directors impanel a task force on the utilization of veterinary technicians. Earlier this year, the Board voted for such a task force that, in addition to utilization, will consider financial and career sustainability, effective task delegation, and the well-being of both veterinary technicians and practices.
"I have witnessed firsthand the importance of technicians to the daily function of veterinary practices as well as their key roles in preserving animal health and welfare," Dr. Howe said. "Veterinary technicians help make veterinary medicine as special as it is, and I look forward to continued discussions about improving the utilization of these critical members of the veterinary team."
The AVMA must continue as a leader in the one-health movement, he said, working with physicians on issues common to both animal and human medicine.
"In my conversations with physicians, I find that they are always amazed at our diagnostic capabilities and how ahead of the game we are on issues like tick-borne illnesses," Dr. Howe said. "As veterinarians, it is important that we remain committed to promoting the health of all species and the many places in which they live and continue to promote one health to our fellow health care professionals."
Related JAVMA content:
Kratt wins race for AVMA president-elect (Sept. 15, 2019)
President-elect candidates maker their case (July 1, 2019)
Task force created to look at better using vet techs (June 15, 2019)
Army Veterinary Corps gets new leader (May 15, 2019)