Change begins at the end of your comfort zone

dvm360dvm360 May 2023
Volume 54
Issue 5
Pages: 11

Notes on innovation from Adam Christman, DVM, MBA

Christian Horz /

Christian Horz /

I recently had the honor of interviewing the 2024 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) presidential candidates: Sandra Faeh Butler, DVM; Arnie Goldman, DVM, MPH; and Bob Murtaugh, DVM, MS, DACVIM, DACVECC, FCCM. If you haven’t seen these exclusive interviews, I highly encourage you to check them out here.

The common denominator they all shared with me was that change begins with each and every one of us. It is one thing to identify problems and voice concerns about them, but it is another if we do not seek action to find resolutions for them.

I have been on the board of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association for 2 terms now and it has been a privilege to be a part of decision-making and problem solving. Let’s face it: We are scientists by trade and truly value and harness the scientific method throughout ourday-to-day practice. Translating that to organized veterinary medicine is no different. Yes, there are processes, policies,and even voting procedures in place but having a voice at the supper table matters. And there are a boatload of committees to participate on, both on the local and national levels.

For example, the AVMA Congressional Advocacy Network, a community of more than 40,000 veterinary professionals, provides tools to speak on animal health issues, animal welfare, and public health. They also work closely with Congress and regulatory agencies.

Have you ever attended an AVMA virtual town hall meeting? This is a great opportunity for you and your colleagues to chat with Washington, DC, lawmakers and connect firsthand with the senators and representatives who influence and make decisions on policies affecting animal welfare and our profession. These meetings typically include a guest speaker from the House of Representatives or Senate who has ties to the veterinary professionas a member of either the Veterinary Medicine Caucusor a congressional committee that deals with key veterinary priorities. You have the ability to submit questions to the guest. Topics thathave been discussed include prescription mandates, COVID-19 relief, student debt, and funding for key research projects. This is another great opportunity for your voices and concerns to be heard so change can be made. Information is available on the AVMA website at

Other initiatives available through the AVMA include the following:

  • Becoming in an AVMA ambassador. This program connects veterinarians directly with members of Congress in their home state. These ambassadors build personal relationships with lawmakers, ensuring that these legislators hear directly from fellow veterinarians about pertinent matters in the profession.
  • Participating in a congressional fellowship. This program allows AVMA members the opportunity to work for 1 year in Washington, DC, as a scientific adviser to a member of Congress.

Being involved in organized medicine has reinvigorated my passion for veterinary medicine. It also is an opportunity for you to network and look at other available career options. Even participating in events with your veterinary schools, specialty colleges, and other institutions is a great way to collaboratively work together and make an impact. And if organized medicine isn’t for you, check out other local veterinary organizations in your state. One voice can make a huge difference for change to occur for the future of our profession and next generation of veterinarians.

Let’s face it: We are busy but not busy enough to get out of our comfort zone to have our voices heard. Change can be annoying, disruptive, and unpredictable. But you know what’s worse than change? Status quo. Our profession is consistently and quickly evolving and we have to be the ones challenging the status quo. The “it’s always been done like this before” mentality is a thing of the past. Be involved. Be bold. Be vociferous.

In the words of Harriet Tubman: “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

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