Schaumburg, Ill. - On the heels of an internal report advocating radical change to the way the organization serves the public and the profession it represents, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) released a new plan to govern its growth over the next several years.
SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — On the heels of an internal report advocating radical change to the way the organization serves the public and the profession it represents, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) released a new plan to govern its growth over the next several years.
The AVMA strategic plan, covering 2012 through 2015, stresses efforts to deal with the trials facing the veterinary profession such as decreasing patient visits and establishing veterinarians as the authorities on all things relating to animal health.
The plan was approved by the AVMA Executive Board in June, and it attempts to address many of the concerns outlined by the association's 20/20 Vision Committee earlier this year. This committee called on the association to take a more proactive role in guiding the profession through changes in the marketplace or risk becoming obsolete.
Additionally, the 20/20 Vision Committee outlined goals the association should strive to meet by the year 2020—from business practices and leadership structure to adding value to the way the veterinary profession is perceived by the public.
In response to the report, and through efforts by the AVMA House of Delegates, AVMA outlined five main goals over the next few years, with specific actions that should be pursued under the strategic plan.
The primary goal, AVMA says, is to beef up the economics of the veterinary profession.
"Economics was certainly the No. 1 concern of every one of our constituents who had something to say," explains Dr. Ted Cohn, chair of the Strategic Planning Task Force and District IX representative on the AVMA Executive Board.
The first step, according to the plan, is to focus on identifying ways to make the delivery of veterinary medicine more efficient and profitable. The association will advocate the use of business models focused on client service and that promote the value and utilization of credentialed veterinary technicians in practice. The plan also calls for trying new ways to educate veterinarians about practice and financial management.
Work in this area has already begun, AVMA says, following the announcement that it helped form a new partnership with the American Animal Hospital Association, Banfield Pet Hospital and a host of animal-health companies committed to building caseload for veterinary practices (see story, "Veterinary groups form coalition to jumpstart visits to veterinarians").
Understanding the veterinary medical workforce is the next step, the strategic plan says. Over-served and under-served markets, as well as new career opportunities outside of private practice, should be identified, according to the plan. (See story, "Rural woes don't reflect overall practice sales market, brokers say".) AVMA's strategic plan also recommends the use of new recruitment strategies that will help the profession enroll students and place new veterinarians in areas with the most need.
The association says it also contributed to a plan to reshape veterinary education through its participation in the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium (NAVMEC). Key action items include new ways to decrease the cost of veterinary education while increasing its efficiency and better preparing graduates to enter veterinary practices. The strategic plan stresses the need to amend recruitment strategies by veterinary colleges so it better addresses the needs of society.
Under the strategic plan, AVMA will advocate for animal-welfare education in veterinary schools. It will also work toward helping the public, veterinary profession and other stakeholders better understand the profession's role when it comes to animal-welfare policy.
Another way to help establish veterinarians as the authorities in animal welfare is to push for legislation that requires veterinarian oversight over veterinary medical procedures. The association wants veterinarians to have a voice on state and federal legislative issues concerning animal health.
More work needs to be done advocating for awareness and sustained funding for animal health and welfare research, especially in light of federal and state monetary cutbacks. AVMA promises to seek out public and private partnerships that will provide sustainable funding for animal health research, increase exposure to veterinary students on the value of research, and promote the One Health concept that calls for collaboration by all the health professions, AVMA says.
The final goal outlined by the strategic plan is to enhance membership participation and engagement within AVMA.
"Over the years, AVMA has done an excellent job of talking and speaking to our members, letting them know what we do," says Cohn. "But we haven't done as good a job as we would like, or we think we should do, as far as listening to our members. This is a member organization; we should be member-driven."
Ensuring increased transparency, organizational responsiveness and flexibility, and increasing membership participation at all levels of the organization are key to making this happen, according to the strategic plan.