April Blog

Organized Veterinary Medicine

By: Beth Klapstein, DVM

It has been my pleasure to serve in organized veterinary medicine for the past 20 years. I strongly encourage each of you to get as involved as you can. My adventure started in 1998 when I arrived in Lodi. I was immediately encouraged by a local vet to not only join NSJVMA but to also serve as our Area Representative. That started my awakening to the strength that our local associations, CVMA and AVMA provide our profession. We get not only education and camaraderie but also advocacy and leadership.

We see the education part easily as it is offered every month here with Delta VMAspeakers providing our required CE. We get the added benefit of interacting with our colleagues and hearing their input and concerns. Our local CE dinners are a great benefit of membership. If you have topics you are interested in or ideas for talks or activities or ways to present CE please speak up. This is your organization. It should be driven by your ideas and desires. Many vets join primarily for the CE but veterinarians working together can do so much more.

Our state association offers education through the Pacific Veterinary Conference which will be in Long Beach this year than back in San Francisco next year. There are also smaller seminars at Yosemite, Squaw Valley, Palm Springs and other interesting locales across the year. More recently they have added online seminars including required topics such as Antimicrobial Use and Sexual Harassment in the Workplace for supervisors and employees. They have also covered chickens, bees and other interesting topics. Check them out at CVMA.net. AVMA also has annual conferences around the country each year as well as its leadership conference in Chicago.

Advocacy is one of the most valuable benefits our VMAs have to offer. Every year our profession is defended from infringement on our scope of practice, increased requirements and costs, and legislation that threatens our livelihoods. There are thousands of bills introduced just at the state level and dozens of them directly impact our profession. CVMA and AVMA have professionals and committees comb through this mass of material. They then work with legislators and their staff to inform them of the impact and consequences of veterinary medicine. They testify at committee meetings and send letters to all involved. This struggle occurs every year from spring to fall. The relationships our VMAs and members forge are vital to getting our words heard. If you do not have the time to serve in the association then take the time to meet your local representatives so they come to you with questions involving our profession. As one colleague put it “If you are not at the table you are on the menu”. Get involved any way you can.

Leadership is essential in molding the future of our profession. Anticipating the problems of tomorrow, evaluating the impacts, and finding solutions allow us to be prepared to participate in and to guide the conversation. Telemedicine, One Health, medicine beyond the age of antibiotics, gene therapy and a myriad of other topics will need to be addressed. The ability of veterinary students to afford their education, making the profession and associations inclusive and representative for all our members, and the role of corporate medicine and insurance in our profession present challenges.

Add your voice. Help preserve and advance our profession. Learn and enjoy the company of other veterinarians. Support not only Delta VMA but also California VMA and American VMA. You can even get involved internationally. So speak up at meetings, meet your legislators, and support your associations for the protection and betterment of our profession.