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October 01, 2020

SAVMA changes requirements, seeks mentoring in light of pandemic

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The COVID-19 pandemic has altered many facets of life, including switching meetings from in person to virtual and making curbside service at veterinary clinics the new norm.

The Student AVMA, too, has had to make adjustments in light of veterinary colleges not having most students on campus this past spring and continued disruptions this fall. The SAVMA House of Delegates passed a bylaws amendment for its chapter membership percentage requirement under extenuating circumstances, eg, a pandemic, during its summer meeting Aug. 1-2.

SAVMA HOD virtual meeting, screen 1
The Student AVMA House of Delegates met virtually for its summer meeting Aug. 1-2. Student delegates passed a bylaws amendment for its chapter membership percentage requirement in extenuating circumstances, eg, a pandemic, and met with SAVMA chapter presidents to discuss how to assist students who have challenges with attaining externships and mentorships during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photos by Marie Bucko)

The change lowers the SAVMA membership requirement at U.S., Canadian, and Caribbean veterinary colleges from 80% to 51% of students—and at other veterinary colleges from 40% to 21%—for an institution to have voting privileges in the SAVMA HOD. This change can only be made in the event of extenuating circumstances, and the veterinary college must meet specific requirements at the discretion of the SAVMA Executive Board.

SAVMA HOD committees also took a number of actions. The Integrative Communications and Diversity Committee and Educational and Professional Development Committee collaborated to provide new grants for students from groups underrepresented in veterinary medicine. The Wellbeing Committee also created a new grant to support LGBTQ students. The Governmental Affairs Committee created a hardship grant for students and published its Advocacy Toolkit, a step-by-step guide to governmental advocacy for people of all levels of experience.

At the joint meetings of the delegates and chapter presidents, the topics of discussion were how schools are adapting to COVID-19, the challenges students face, concerns for SAVMA engagement, and how best to support students and provide resources. Together, delegates and chapter presidents are working on creating a resource to help students locate externships and mentorship as well as an intercollegiate calendar for virtual events and lectures.

SAVMA is in the initial data collection phase for students regarding externships and mentorship, said Marie Bucko, SAVMA president. The next steps will be working with the AVMA, including the AVMA House of Delegates, to help fill those needs geographically. SAVMA and AVMA leaders are considering creating a joint Facebook group.

The SAVMA HOD meeting had a number of guests, including the following.

  • Drs. Douglas Kratt, AVMA president, and José Arce, AVMA president-elect, welcomed students and shared greetings from the AVMA and outlined the Association’s goals. They highlighted the importance of SAVMA and the AVMA working together and being resources for one another. Later, members of the AVMA Board of Directors joined students in their breakout committees to listen and learn about topics at the forefront of the veterinary student body.
  • Drs. Grace Bransford, outgoing AVMA vice president, and Sandra Faeh Butler, incoming AVMA vice president, expressed well-wishes for veterinary students and how far SAVMA has come. “Dr. Bransford has made a huge impact on advocating for students,” Bucko said, adding that Dr. Faeh Butler said she looks forward to continuing this relationship for the next two years.
  • Dr. Rebecca Stinson, AVMA Trust student services representative, joined students to host a team-building lunch sponsored by the AVMA Trust family.
  • Dr. Annie Chavent joined students as the newest assistant director of AVMA student initiatives. Previously, she was an associate veterinarian at PenMar Equine Practice in Myersville, Maryland.
  • Drs. Marie Sato Quicksall, president-elect of the Multicultural VMA, and Stéphie-Anne Dulièpre, MCVMA community outreach and volunteer chair, shared their personal stories in veterinary medicine. They explained how the MCVMA was created and its mission to promote racial and ethnic diversity and cultural competency within the veterinary profession. They also answered the questions “How do we appeal for change when everything is virtual?” and “How do we, as students, deal with a power dynamic?” Finally, the two leaders explained the #WakeUpVetMed hashtag and the petition that the MCVMA put forth to call for institutional self-assessment by the AVMA and implementation of action items.

Student delegates elected the following 2020-21 SAVMA officers: Brooke MacNeill, Colorado State University, secretary-elect; Ilissa Chasnick, Michigan State University, treasurer-elect; Sarah Delmotte, University of Georgia, The Vet Gazette editor–elect; and Pallavi Oruganti, The Ohio State University, cultural outreach officer–elect.

Delegates voted to have the 2022 SAVMA Symposium take place at the University of Minnesota. SAVMA will next meet at the 2021 SAVMA Symposium, March 13-15 at Kansas State University.

SAVMA HOD virtual meeting, screen 2

 

SAVMA HOD virtual meeting, screen 3