Hammer orders oath to bolster profession's future


In his inaugural address as president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Dr. Greg Hammer called on members of the House of Delegates to pledge not to deter students from entering the profession by warning of long hours and low pay, and to help bolster DVM strength in biomedicine and public health.

WASHINGTON — In his speech before the House of Delegates, Dr. Greg Hammer demanded his colleagues pledge to never again deter promising students from careers in veterinary medicine.

Mr. Fix-It: In his presidential address, Dr. Greg Hammer invites the AVMA House of Delegates to help patch holes in the profession's workforce, including those related to biomedicine and public health.

With their right hands raised, American Veterinary Medical Association delegates took an oath to stop warning of long hours and low pay in an effort to encourage a new generation of DVMs.

The surprise exchange between the AVMA's new president and delegates took place last month during the group's annual meeting in Washington. Hammer called on the House floor to "stand up for the future" of veterinary medicine by pushing for federal passage of the Veterinary Public Health Workforce Expansion Act. With the room on its feet, he called upon state associations and AVMA councils and committees to develop grassroots-action plans to push the bill. The legislative initiative asks for $1.5 billion in competitive grants for veterinary institutions to enlarge and improve college classrooms, research and teaching facilities in the name of resolving the shortage of DVMs entering fields of biomedicine and public health.

Dr. Lloyd Keck, the Governmental Relations Division's Senate Agriculture Fellow, speaks with President Dr. Greg Hammer.

Research shows a single highly infectious disease could wipe out much of our nation's livestock, Hammer says. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 80 percent of potential agents used in bioterrorism spread from animals to humans, he adds.

"Do you need more reason to participate in the political process and help pass the Veterinary Workforce Expansion Act?" Hammer asks during his speech. "Pick up the phone. Write an e-mail. Drop a letter to your representative in a mailbox. Make that phone call to your senators. The consequences of your inaction may be devastating to our profession and to our country."

Work ahead

Hammer mapped out other challenges for the profession, including ongoing efforts to become the leading resource for sound, science-based guidance on animal welfare by cementing veterinarians' status as stewards of animal well-being.

He touched on diversity, noting a need for the mostly white, increasingly female workforce to better mirror the public it serves and cited efforts to preserve veterinarians' position as one of the nation's most trusted professions.

"You are a select group, a privileged few," Hammer says. "Your profession has been good to you. Now it is time for you to stand up for your profession."

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