Workforce issues, diversity, educational accreditation top Board agenda
Interview by R. Scott Nolen
Dr. Ronald Gill was elected chair of the AVMA Board of Directors this past July during AVMA Convention 2022 in Philadelphia. About halfway through his term, he spoke with AVMA News about the issues he expects the Board will continue to address in the coming months. The mixed animal practitioner from Illinois also talked about the Board’s relationship with the AVMA House of Delegates and need for participation by AVMA members in the AVMA Political Action Committee and the AVMA’s charitable arm, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. The following responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish as chair of the AVMA Board of Directors?
A: I expect great things from our Board, and further, I believe that we are the most diverse Board of Directors the AVMA has ever had. We are diverse not only in the type of practice experience, areas of interest, and life experience but also with respect to gender, race, and ethnicity. As a result, we are fortunate to have a wide spectrum of perspectives and frequent, thoughtful, and robust discussions on all the issues we address. In the end, the goal is always to come together in compromise to guide the AVMA and our profession in the right direction.
Q: What issues do you expect the Board will address in coming months?
A: I'm sure the Board will continue to discuss numerous topics of importance to the profession as well as new issues that may come to our attention through environmental scanning. Workforce challenges and possible solutions will continue to engage us, as well as implementation of our diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. The AVMA’s support for accreditation of veterinary schools and development of standardization for veterinary technician degrees are also important to the profession and our members. We will continue to listen to the information presented to us, deliberate, and make decisions based on the intent to do what’s best for the profession and our members.
Q: Can you talk about the relationship between the House of Delegates and the Board and how they work together for AVMA members and the profession?
A: I believe there is an excellent relationship between the House and the Board, and it is our intent to see that it continues. The House Advisory Committee—through its leadership role in the House and liaison role with the Board—provides us with a direct link to the thoughts and ideas of House members. At least two members of the HAC are included at all Board meetings. During these meetings, the HAC members are free to join our debates, advise, and make suggestions, as are the Board members. My experience with the HAC, its chairs, and its members affirms their frequent, valuable contributions on many issues before the Board.
Q: What do you want AVMA members to know about the Board’s work on their behalf?
A: The Board is made up of 16 members–15 of them voting members—who are very hard-working individuals and all of whom hold the best interests of our 100,000-plus AVMA members and our profession first in making decisions. Some decisions are easy, while others are excruciatingly difficult, yet all are taken equally seriously. We have sometimes been criticized as too slow in making decisions to satisfy some of our members. To that criticism, I say that the Board will continue to gather information from the broadest cross section of colleagues and other stakeholders as necessary in order to come to as informed decisions as is possible. That takes time, and it’s important that when decisions are made, the results will be that they were made wisely and are worthy of our profession and the AVMA.
Q: Is there anything else you want to discuss?
A: I feel strongly about supporting our AVMA PAC and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, and I am concerned over the small percentage of our members that do contribute financially to both of these vitally important areas of our profession. Also, I am extremely proud of the professionalism of the AVMA staff. This begins with our executive director, Dr. Janet Donlin (executive vice president and CEO), and continues with Drs. David Granstrom (assistant executive vice president), Gail Golab (associate executive vice president and chief veterinary officer), and Kent McClure (associate executive vice president and chief advocacy officer); the division directors; our Government Relations Division staff; our AVMF staff; Publications Division; Finance and Business Services; legal; and on and on. They all demonstrate a deep commitment to support the members, the House, the Board, as well as all our volunteers with their expertise, wisdom and passion. I am deeply thankful for their commitment.
A version of this article appears in the February 2023 print issue of JAVMA.