AVMA leaders think like you do, survey reveals

Group seeks to remain relevant to membership

October 17, 2008 (published)
By Jennifer Fiala

Schaumburg, Ill. — The values and goals of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) leadership closely mirror that of its members.

That’s according to a membership survey conducted in 2007, by the nation’s largest trade organization for veterinarians.

During the past four years, AVMA’s Executive Board worked to develop five strategic goals to guide the group on future initiatives, emphasizing legislative advocacy, workforce shortages, education, animal welfare and economic viability. Now results from the association’s Membership Needs Assessment survey show four of those five initiatives are top concerns for virtually all veterinarian members.

“The AVMA is an umbrella organization for a very diverse profession, so this really shows we’ve done well in understanding the needs and values of our members,” Executive Board Chairman Dr. David McCrystle says in a news release.

Where the Executive Board and association members differ is regarding the importance of education and AVMA’s role in it, survey results show. Members ranked education “very low” on their priority list, and Executive Vice President Dr. Ron DeHaven says he isn’t surprised. Academia makes up a slim minority of the veterinary workforce, so most members likely are unaware of the challenges facing the veterinary education system, he says.

“Not only do we need to keep up our excellence in education, but also we need to acknowledge that the current educational model we’ve used for the last 30 years is not meeting our current needs, and it certainly won’t meet the needs that we expect to see in the future,” DeHaven explains in a news release.

While both groups heavily identified animal welfare as an important issue, members ranked the statement, “Veterinarians need to be recognized as the leading resource in animal health/animal welfare policy” as the second most important, behind economic viability, while the Executive Board ranked it eighth.

The discrepancy boils down to AVMA’s leadership deciding that the group needs to be recognized as the leading voice in animal welfare, while members indicate that veterinarians in general should take on that leadership role, McCrystle says.

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