AVMA's 20/20 Vision Committee advocates radical change

AVMA's 20/20 Vision Committee advocates radical change

Public-education blitz, partnerships recommended
Jun 01, 2011

SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) does not have the structure to adequately lead the veterinary profession into the future, according to a new report from the association's own 20/20 Vision Committee.

The organization needs to take a more proactive role in establishing veterinarians as the authority on animal-health issues or risk becoming obsolete and ineffective, the committee warns.

After more than a year in development, the committee's report, released in late March, spells out the weaknesses and strengths of AVMA, and offers a number of suggestions on how the organization can best serve its membership by the year 2020.

Times are changing quickly and drastically, and AVMA needs to adapt to be able to change just as quickly, the report notes. Generational, gender and minority issues as well as fragmentation of the profession by specialty and special-interest groups compound the challenges the modern world is throwing at the profession. The committee cautions that the association is at a pivotal time where it can either become a leader or lose influence and relevancy.

Commission members concluded that great leaders and organizations have the capacity to improve what is, and concurrently, what isn't. While commission members acknowledge AVMA's efforts that strive for continuous improvement and support of its current activities, the commission focused most of its attention on creating what isn't—a new vision and associated pathways that will create an organization for 2020 that is profoundly different than the association today.

The report outlines a detailed vision for AVMA by 2020 that includes better educating the public on the need for veterinary medicine, functioning in a way that promotes greater trust and broader participation in the association, and building partnerships internally and externally to advance the profession.

The vision

The commission recommends:

  • establishing and advancing a national agenda focused on the health and welfare of animals and their importance to our society;
  • securing a vital and economically viable future for all facets of the veterinary profession;
  • ensuring public appreciation and support for veterinary medicine to enable the profession to fulfill its essential role;
  • operating in a global context, recognizing the critical contribution that U.S. veterinarians play internationally including global health, trade, food safety, and security and education;
  • building dynamic partnerships with key groups and sectors, both internally and externally, to ensure effective collaboration on issues of shared importance;
  • contributing to the growth and health of the veterinary profession, including ensuring that membership in the profession reflects the full spectrum of Americans;
  • functioning in a manner that promotes high trust, broad participation, and commitment among its diverse membership and other key stakeholders;
  • ensuring the organization expands its portfolio to opportunities and activities in animal welfare, research, emergency response, and public health, and drives demand;
  • unifying the diverse interests and specialties in the profession toward a common purpose and sense of community; and
  • operating and governing proactively, strategically and incorporating technological advances.

To achieve this vision, the commission developed 11 key points and strategies for obtaining each goal. They include topics such as societal impact, public awareness, economics, relationships to other organizations and professions, global impact, membership, generational and demographic synergy, technology, governance and participation, culture and knowledge.

Some highlights of those strategies include the recommendation that the veterinary profession work to embrace minorities and support from the general public. Minorities, and how well they are served and represented within the veterinary profession, are a concern, according to the report, which cautions the veterinary profession's image could be tarnished without a reversal of this trend.

The association should implement an extensive public-awareness campaign that establishes veterinarians in the public eye as the authority on animal-related issues, and promote the benefits of preventive care for all animals, the commission suggests.

"The profession is hampered by a public not fully appreciating and valuing veterinary care and services, and by the profession's inability to convince animal owners of the benefits of wellness, veterinary visits, and the full spectrum of services needed to optimize the health and care of animals throughout their entire lifetime," the report states. "These issues are not just economically driven, but rather reflect the lack of public understanding and awareness of the benefits of routine veterinary care and the value of care which may be considered too expensive."