AVMA President Arce pledges to tackle profession’s economic challenges
Increasing access to veterinary profession a priority for new president
R. Scott Nolen
Incoming AVMA president Dr. José Arce will spend the coming year focused on removing financial barriers for those who want to join the veterinary profession and promoting the well-being of veterinary students and the entire veterinary team.
Speaking during the regular annual session of the AVMA House of Delegates on July 30 in Chicago, Dr. Arce linked high educational debt and other “formidable” economic challenges to the profession’s wellness issues. He said: “As president, I will strive to improve the educational debt-to-income disparities that exist in our profession by advocating in Congress on legislation to make possible low-interest or interest-free student loans and to make veterinary medical education more accessible.
“I will foster an environment that promotes the mental health, emotional well-being, and personal happiness of veterinarians, veterinary staff, and students both at work and at home.”
Dr. Arce was elected to the AVMA Board of Directors in 2014. The HOD last year elected Dr. Arce as the 2020-21 AVMA president-elect and successor to the current AVMA president, Dr. Douglas Kratt. Dr. Arce is the first Puerto Rican president of the AVMA.
A 1997 graduate of the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Arce is president and co-owner of Miramar Animal Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His wife, Dr. Anik Puig, is also a veterinarian.
One of the lessons of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is that veterinary medicine is essential to protecting public health, Dr. Arce said. “It is of utmost importance that we continue to promote one health, recognizing that the interconnections between people, animals, and their shared environment have become more significant and impactful than ever,” he said.
“We must remain focused on pursuing and strengthening relationships with other global veterinary associations and intergovernmental institutions to support public health, animal health, and welfare around the world.”
Dr. Arce is proud of his Puerto Rican and Spanish roots and said they have shaped his perspective on life. He feels a personal and professional responsibility to lead by example, sending a clear message of inclusiveness that will hopefully inspire other minorities to become involved in organized veterinary medicine.
Additionally, as the AVMA Board’s liaison to the Commission for a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Veterinary Profession, Dr. Arce pledged to continue working with AVMA partners to achieve greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in the veterinary profession.
“I see the role of the (AVMA) president as an ambassador of our profession and a strong advocate of the AVMA family,” Dr. Arce said. “Whether it is the AVMA, AVMF (American Veterinary Medical Foundation), AVMA trusts, AVMA PAC (Political Action Committee), or the Student AVMA, I am committed to help ensure all parts of the AVMA family work together to serve the needs of our members more effectively.
“In the year ahead, I will do my best to be a strong leader who represents all our members, advocates for our profession, and inspires others to do the same. Together, we will work toward an AVMA that better meets the needs of society while protecting, promoting, and advancing a unified veterinary profession.”