I recently returned from eight days in Boston, host city for the 2015 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Convention. Half of my time was spent as an ambassador to SAVMA for Illinois students, and half of my time was spent as an ambassador to AVMA for all students. All of my time was spent feeling disarmingly inspired by those who spend all of their time caring for animals.
I’ll start with the AVMA House of Delegates (HOD), which is the governing body of the AVMA. It is comprised of 136 voting members representing 68 groups: one delegate, one alternate delegate from each state, and 18 allied organizations (e.g. American Association of Veterinary Clinicians, American Association of Equine Practitioners, etc.). One of those organizations is SAVMA, and one of my responsibilities as president-elect is to serve as its alternate delegate.
What a completely new experience! During the meeting in Boston, half of the resolutions involved accreditation. Accreditation is intended to uphold the quality of veterinary students. Some of the agenda items concerning accreditation seemed to be directed at the quantity of veterinary students. SAVMA president Jessica Carie and I addressed the AVMA HOD, with the following (paraphrased) message: Students have told us that they are concerned most with debt and wellness, not accreditation. We would be failing the 15,000+ members of SAVMA if we did not urge the AVMA HOD to direct its resources toward helping current and future students deal with the mental health and financial burdens that are responsible for the growing depression and suicide rates in our profession.
The SAVMA HOD meeting (pictured above) took place during the second half of the week, and the agenda was packed! We added an ad hoc cultural outreach officer (Kyle Hohu, Purdue 2017) with the intent of promoting education and awareness of diversity at both the student and graduate level. This was also the first meeting that SAVMA presidents and president-elects were formally invited to discuss and collaborate with the delegates. Along with presentations on debt repayment and leadership, and the creation of several task forces designed to improve the student experience, the summer meeting qualifies as productive.
And speaking of production, my next blog will be all about my experience as an intern with the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service learning about the production of animals as food.