National Report — Following 10 years of supporting the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues (NCVEI), the American Animal Hospital
Association (AAHA) will withdraw its membership and financial support at the end of the year.
Dr. Karen Felsted
The American Veterinary Medical Association, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges and AAHA joined in 2001
to found NCVEI, which focuses on economic development in veterinary medicine. The organization is governed by a 12-member
board; the founding organizations each fill four slots.
"What has been so powerful about NCVEI is that it has been an industry-wide initiative," says Dr. Karen Felsted, NCVEI's chief
executive. "We're disappointed and somewhat confused about AAHA's decision. The communication has not been clear."
Felsted points out that AAHA has not consistently funded NCVEI over the years. In 2011, the organization will still receive
$50,000 in funding from AVMA and $5,000 from AAVMC.
While AAHA spokesman Jason Merrihew acknowledges the importance of economics in veterinary medicine, he says AAHA's original
commitment to NCVEI was for five years, which was extended in 2005 another five years. AAHA remains a member until the end
of the calendar year. Dr. Michael Cavanaugh, executive director of AAHA, was unavailable for comment.
"Continuing financial support of NCVEI required substantial changes," Merrihew says. "After reviewing the new business model,
it didn't vary enough from the current model being used to continue funding." Merrihew adds that AAHA found NCVEI's administrative
costs were too high to dedicate new funds to the organization.
Felsted acknowledges AAHA's concern, but questions the accuracy of the statement. "We had heard that they were concerned that
too much of (NCVEI's) funds go to overhead and not to programs, though that is not accurate. Twenty-five percent of our costs
are administrative, and the rest goes to programs. I don't think they are clear on that."
Because AAHA helped found NCVEI, its members hold four seats on the commission's board of directors. "Members from AAHA represent
one third of our governing board," says Felsted. "Any action NCVEI has taken has been approved by the board. All strategic
plans have been unanimously approved, so it's unclear why we had that approval and then (AAHA) withdrew."
Felsted remains optimistic about NCVEI's future. "An economically viable profession is important to everybody," she says.
"We've actually started a fairly aggressive fundraising campaign to make other organizations aware of what we do, and we've
had some success with that," she adds.
"I appreciate that it's a tough time for professional organizations right now. I respect AAHA's right to do what they need
to do. I wish them well," Felsted says.
Ms. Karapetian is a freelance writer in Chicago.