AVMA alters model veterinary practice act, passes proposals

Delegates debate pet insurance, sexual harassment, governance

August 8, 2019 (published)
By Jennifer Fiala

Pet health insurance, sexual harassment and the veterinary-client-patient relationship topped last week’s annual summer gathering of the American Veterinary Medical Association House of Delegates in Washington, D.C.

The House, comprised of two delegates from every state and at least 16 allied organizations, unanimously passed a resolution that asks the AVMA Council on Veterinary Service to work with the Student American Veterinary Medical Association and National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America to review harassment policies in veterinary workplaces.

"While it is not known if there is an extensive problem ... we can assume that no profession is immune to sexual harassment," a statement in support of the resolution says.

A VIN News Service exploration early last year of sexual harassment in the veterinary community found that no veterinary organization or large employer had yet stepped up to address the issue head-on. At the time, the AVMA did not respond to repeated inquiries on the topic. 

Delegates elected to forgo a suggestion in the resolution to survey the profession to discover whether sexual harassment is widespread. The consensus was that no matter its prevalence, sexual harassment should be addressed.

Other actions by the House:

  • Delegates revised an AVMA policy endorsing pet health insurance to encourage the "veterinary health care team" to proactively educate clients about insurance options. Proposed by the AVMA Board of Directors, the change came as part of the AVMA's regular five-year review cycle for all policies. The new language reflects research conducted by the AVMA and other groups that shows pets with pet insurance get more veterinary care than those without. Studies show that owners are more likely to have pet insurance if a veterinarian brings it to their attention, the AVMA reported in a recent blog post. "Bringing this information to our clients can help us elevate the level of care we’re able to provide to patients," the post says.
  • The AVMA Policy on Judicious Therapeutic Use of Antimicrobials in Cattle was updated during the regular review cycle to reflect current thinking on combating antimicrobial resistance.
  • Delegates revised the AVMA Model Veterinary Practice Act, which has been undergoing a rewrite since 2016. Intended to act as a guide for state regulators, the updated model practice act strengthens the concept that establishing a veterinarian-client-patient relationship requires in-person examinations — a requirement that limits the reach of telemedicine. At the same time, it exempts the need to establish a VCPR in emergency situations.
  • Delegates revised the AVMA Bylaws to upgrade the requisites of candidates seeking to serve as district representatives on the AVMA Executive Board. Under the revisions, candidates must be voting members of the AVMA for seven continuous years, up from five years. Candidates also must have served in certain volunteer positions within the AVMA or other specified veterinary organizations.
  • Delegates passed a late-breaking resolution to form a working group to study the rules, policies and procedures of the election process for offices of the AVMA president-elect and vice president. Both offices are elected by the House. The proposal was submitted by veterinary medical associations for North Carolina and Indiana.
  • The AVMA presidency of Dr. John De Jong came to a close. The title passed to Dr. John Howe, who will serve until summer 2020.
  • Dr. Doug Kratt was chosen AVMA president-elect.
  • Two delegates announced their candidacies for the 2020-21 election cycle. Dr. José Arce, a member of the AVMA Board of Directors, will run for president-elect, and Dr. Sandra Faeh, a delegate representing Illinois, plans to run for vice president.

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