Veterinarians need to reinforce profession's value in an ailing economy, says AVMA pres. elect
The challenges -- economics, education and governance -- are just as significant as the milestones, Carlson says.
"If any of us had a patient, let's say the veterinary medical profession, that presented with a multitude of symptoms as a problem list like high student debt, inadequate return on one's educational investment in terms of compensation, decreased employment, high cost educational infrastructure, inadequate sustainability in rural environments and decreased visits to veterinarians, we would search for answers in terms of data collection and a diagnosis before that patient's condition worsened. We would design a treatment plan to improve the patient's health, with the goal of returning that patient to better condition than when first presented. The management of this patient requires such a treatment plan – that is, a comprehensive strategy for the economic development of veterinary medicine."
And the work begins in August, Carlson says, when the AVMA Executive Board and consultants meet for an economic working session to figure out ways to collect data and "develop a treatment plan."
Carlson called on hundreds of delegates during its meeting in St. Louis to help transform the economics of practice. In fact, Carlson says, the profession needs to adopt an "abundance mentality," meaning that there is enough work for everyone. "Certainly that should be true with 311 million people in this country and almost 7 billion people in the world, and with all the animals with which we enjoy life or upon which we depend. We need to put our energy and resources into positive value messages for the public so they understand the importance of what we do for animals, people and environmental health, the One Health philosophy. We must make the positive connection of the importance of veterinary medicine to each person in their own world," she says.
Carlson envisions a time when parents recommend veterinary medicine as a first career choice to their children because of its public and financial prestige.
"Nine of the top-10, top-paying jobs in America in 2011 are owned by medical professionals, including oral surgeons and orthodontists," Carlson says. "The other non-medical job is CEO of a major corporation. Veterinarians should be on that list. Why aren’t we? We have to connect the value of veterinary medicine to every person's personal and professional life. If we create the understanding, the desire and demand for veterinary care will follow…"
"Once someone finds out you are a veterinarian, you are loved and revered almost anywhere in the world," Carlson told the delegates. "We must emphasize the value of veterinary medicine to each person, which will lead to greater demand for our unique and sophisticated services. We have a vision for a better economic status, transformed educational models and improved AVMA governance. We simply must act to make it happen and make it stick. This is the time to come together. If we commit to these goals, we will make a difference for generations to come," she says.