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June 01, 2020

UPDATE (May 15, 2020): In light of the need to hold the 2020 House of Delegates regular annual session electronically this summer, the Arizona VMA and nine co-sponsors elected to withdraw a resolution proposing an expansion of the reduction of AVMA member dues for newer graduates. The Arizona VMA noted that the resolution would likely generate debate on the floor, and withdrawal of the proposal “will make this inaugural attempt at this virtual type of meeting much easier for staff and leadership to manage—and hopefully more successful.”

Delegates to consider dues proposal, policy revisions

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The AVMA House of Delegates will consider a proposal to expand the reduction in AVMA member dues for recent graduates as well as revisions to policies on antiparasitic resistance and transportation of research animals.

Delegates will deliberate on the resolutions during their regular annual session this summer.

In 2019, to help the Association balance its operational budget, the House passed a $30 dues increase for members, effective in 2020, that brought regular member dues to $360. Currently, new veterinarians receive free AVMA membership for the balance of the year that they graduate and a 50% reduction in dues for the next two consecutive renewal periods.

Screenshot of My Veterinary Life website
Among the AVMA resources for recent graduates is the My Veterinary Life website.

Under the proposal, which was submitted by 10 state VMAs, new veterinarians would still receive free membership in their graduating year. The proposal would then reduce dues to 25% of regular dues for the first full year of membership, maintain dues at 50% for the second full year, and reduce dues to 75% for the third full year, for a total savings of $180 in dues over that four-year period.

According to the statement about the resolution, “The goal of this resolution is to financially assist recent graduates who are often burdened with substantial student loan debt, while bonding them to the AVMA as lifelong members.”

The House Advisory Committee and the Board both recommended that the House refer the resolution to the Board for further analysis.

An informational document from the Board noted, “Over the past several years, the AVMA developed and implemented an overarching strategy to support recent graduates and provide targeted resources focused on their areas of primary concern: career development, financial health and wellbeing.”

The document went on to note, “Early career members are highly satisfied with the AVMA and their likelihood of renewing membership is similarly high.” The document also states, “Across nearly every metric we survey, the response for early career members is higher than the average and at the highest point since AVMA began tracking.”

If the dues reduction does not increase renewals, the effect over the first six years would be a decrease in revenue of approximately $2.5 million for the AVMA, which “would severely jeopardize the availability of resources that AVMA members—including this key group—need and value,” according to the Board document.

“We can all agree that recent graduates are a key group and these members deserve support,” said Dr. Rena Carlson, AVMA Board chair.

Unfortunately, she said, if the dues changes don’t trigger an increase in renewals, “the financial loss will severely limit AVMA’s ability to provide programs that these members tell us are valuable to them. That is why we need further analysis that will help us identify those factors that truly influence recent graduate membership and renewal decisions.”

“It’s not unlike how we treat patients—we need the diagnosis before we can determine a treatment plan,” said Dr. Sandy Willis, HAC chair.

During its regular annual session, the House also will discuss revisions to the AVMA policy “Antiparasitic Resistance.” The AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents reviewed the policy because of the directive that all policies be reviewed every five years.

The changes would delete a list of parasites known to have developed resistance to common parasiticides because the list is not exhaustive, recommend that veterinarians lead the decision-making process regarding use of parasiticides, and recommend that studies of antiparasitic drug susceptibility be considered in decision-making.

The AVMA Animal Welfare Committee reviewed the AVMA policy on “Transportation of Research Animals for the Purpose of Research, Testing, and Education” in accordance with the five-year review directive.

At the recommendation of the American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners, some of the revisions would add language stating that veterinarians should be involved in the evaluation of transportation methods and that air and ground transportation should be available to allow for selection of the best method to provide for animal welfare.