Studying women in the profession, public perception tops organization's to-do list
Schaumburg, Ill.-The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) wants to hear the public's perception of rising pet healthcare costs, the professional needs of women and the negative impact animal rights groups have on the DVM image.
In November, AVMA Executive Board members voted to preliminarily approvestudies on these topics, commenced by President Dr. Joseph Howell duringhis inaugural speech last July. At presstime, cost of the projects wereunknown, but Executive Vice President Dr. Bruce Little says they're likelyto move forward.
"These are relevant studies," Little says. "We're allinterested in seeing what they'll turn up."
Measuring animal rights groups' influence
According to AVMA documents, the group's Animal Welfare Committee andCouncil on Public Relations and Legislative Advisory Committee will be workingcollaboratively to gauge the influence animal rights groups have on legislative,legal and consumer attitudes toward animal care. They'll also develop aplan to ensure veterinarians continue to be recognized as the ultimate authoritieson animal welfare.
"Ultimately, lack of veterinary input has the potential to createnegative, rather than positive welfare outcomes for animals," the executiveboard report says.
Animal welfare groups have gained "toeholds" in communities,the report claims, successfully excluding the veterinary profession's expertisein the movement to advocate the term "guardian" instead of "owner;"the Florida constitutional amendment on sow housing; environmental impactcampaigns; the emergence of attorney associations and courses on animallaw; campaigns to upgrade the legal standing of animals; efforts to expandAnimal Welfare Act coverage; animal transport restrictions; and restrictionson veterinary antimicrobial and biologics use.
Focusing on women
In light of the rising female demographic, the AVMA's Council on VeterinaryService and its Member Services Committee are charged with reviewing women'sprofessional needs and identifying issues that go beyond economics.
They will consider clinical practice-related issues, such as hazardsto pregnant DVMs, as well as personal, family and business-related issuesrelevant to veterinary employment such as family leave, the report says.
Eyeing the DVM image
The AVMA's Council on Public Relations also will review veterinarians'changing relationships with the public, highlighting the perception of veterinarymedical costs.
"We must be aware of the potential effect of the rising costs ofveterinary healthcare on public perception of the profession and assurethat the public perceives the value of veterinary services," the reportsays.
The AVMA's goal is to maintain the "excellent trust relationship"that DVMs hold with the public while trying to meet the needs of futureveterinarians, the report adds.
Future veterinarians also might benefit from the work of the NationalCommission on Veterinary Economic Issues (NCVEI), a group created by AVMAto develop measurable programs to facilitate economic improvements in theprofession.
This year, executive board members approved $100,000 in NCVEI fundingto continue its work on a number of studies, which include outlining thecore competencies for veterinary success, developing recommended curriculumfor veterinary professional development and success, and outlining leadershipneeds in the profession.
It's likely the group will publish its work in a supplement to the Journalof the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) in the near future,says Dr. James Lloyd, principle investigator and Michigan State University'sveterinary college professor.
"We're excited about the final report," Lloyd says. "Itshould be of great interest to the profession."
The next executive board meeting will be in March.