A word from AVMA President ‘Mama Bear’
Dr. Lori Teller anticipates spending the next year as AVMA president discussing telehealth, utilization of veterinary staff members, and other professional issues, along with highlighting the benefits of working in veterinary medicine.
In her speech on July 29 at the AVMA House of Delegates’ regular annual session in Philadelphia, Dr. Teller said: “We have real issues that the AVMA continues to address and tackle. We also have much to celebrate, and I want to make sure we remember that, too.
“So, when I have the opportunity to meet with you and our colleagues, be sure to tell me about your concerns, and be sure to share with me your joys and accomplishments because I also want to celebrate those, as well.”
Dr. Teller is a clinical associate professor of telehealth at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, from which she graduated in 1990. In 2021, she was elected as the 2021-22 AVMA president-elect in the first women-only race for president-elect in the Association’s history.
A diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in canine and feline practice, Dr. Teller practiced for several years at Meyerland Animal Clinic in Houston before joining the TAMU faculty in 2018. She was a founding board member of the Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative and is a former chair of the AVMA Board of Directors.
The AVMA is not “an obscure wizard hiding behind a curtain,” Dr. Teller said in her speech, but rather is an organization of imperfect yet well-meaning individuals working on behalf of veterinarians, the animals they care for, and the profession.
“The AVMA is here to protect, promote, and advance the veterinary profession,” she explained. “This is what we do every single day, and we are really good at it because our focus is on you, the veterinarian.”
Humans are complicated creatures, and veterinarians are more than their job, Dr. Teller added, before encouraging her colleagues to embrace their nonveterinarian side. “Nourishing all parts of our complicated selves makes us better veterinarians—and better people,” she said.
“So, from one human being to another, let’s work together to be role models for well-being, for dignity, for kindness, and for respect,” Dr. Teller said in her speech. “As I represent the AVMA in the coming year, I hope I can be the epitome of that.”
Dr. Teller concluded her address with a shoutout to mothers and a warning. “For the moms, those who live with a mom, and those who have or have had a mom or mother figure in your life: Moms are the best multitaskers on the planet. We get stuff done. We feel all the feelings, not only our own, but those of our nearest and dearest. We feel the greatest joy when our child accomplishes a goal and the deepest pain when our child is hurt.
“But do you know what happens when someone threatens our child? We go all mama bear on them. Have you ever seen an angry mother—or an angry bear? Get out of the way!
“As president of the AVMA and its first mom, I will work hard to build bridges, increase our collaborative efforts, and continue to focus on improving veterinary medicine for all of us. But I promise you, when someone threatens our profession, have no fear, because Mama Bear is here.”
A version of this article appears in the September 2022 print issue of JAVMA.