Each day, federal, state and local decisions are being made that directly affect you and your colleagues. Laws regarding animal neglect and abuse, small businesses and veterinary practice regulations are just some of the recurring issues.
National, state and local veterinary organizations, individuals, and society as a whole all benefit from the activities of volunteers. AVMA volunteer leaders can help shape crucial policies and procedures for associations and at every level of government, ensuring that the profession's voice is heard. Helping to make decisions and determining actions can also help you feel more involved, because you know that you are making a difference. This is your opportunity to make your association be heard and to enact change.
Volunteering also offers opportunities for personal growth. As an AVMA volunteer, you will meet other leaders in the profession, forging relationships that can help you throughout life. You may have chances to meet civic and governmental leaders as well. You also will have many opportunities to improve interpersonal and communication skills, and to learn more about veterinary medicine and the veterinary profession.
Volunteering at State and Local Levels
Did you know that your state and local governments can use veterinary feedback on a number of issues affecting your community? You can offer your expertise to assist animal control or a shelter organization or volunteer locally in groups designated to serve the needs of your community. They look at issues that affect the veterinary professional such as practice acts and tax laws. Public service in local government may also be a possibility as some, such as public health boards, statutorily require at least one member to be a practicing veterinarian.
You may also become an advocate for the veterinary profession. Locally, you may monitor ordinances and offer your insight to local governmental bodies. At the state level, you can join your state veterinary medical association's (State VMA) legislative committee and provide input into the legislation and regulations that govern the practice of veterinary medicine.
Building Relationships with Legislators
Legislators often ask veterinarians for their expertise on bills. There are numerous opportunities available at the grassroots level for veterinarians. Approach your legislator at his/her district office when the legislature is not in session and offer to be a resource for veterinary and public health issues. Ask the legislator if he/she would like to have an advisory committee composed of several veterinarians in his/her district that meets quarterly to discuss upcoming issues or legislation.