House of Delegates Summary
The AVMA House of Delegates met on January 5-7 for the regular winter session in Chicago, IL. Several updates were provided to the House regarding veterinary economics and workplace workforce issues. Several policies were up for their 5-year review, and many were germane to the practice of veterinary medicine and therefore brought forward to the house for discussion.
During the economic update, information was provided regarding the suspected upcoming recession. The recession is predicted to be uneven, and without a general downturn. All types of pet ownership is being affected by the impending recession. The number of household pets increased during covid spring 2020 and 2021, but by spring 2022 there was a decrease in number of households owning pets and that number is trending down.
Inflation has taken a toll on everyone. Historical salary trends have been positive, especially in the last 5 years, but the reality is that even with all the growth experienced, inflation continues to take a bite out of the earnings and has decreased disposable income. Inflation will drop during the recession, but not significantly.
Retention and attrition continue to be a priority for the veterinary profession. We have seen a slight decline in the number of veterinarians considering leaving the profession, but we still have a problem with retention in practice as well as within the sector and attrition to the profession itself. AVMA has created many workforce initiatives to help target where our challenges are and how we can tackle them. Some of these initiatives include:
- Surveys: Help AVMA to dig down at the state level with research-backed insights by responding to surveys that are distributed. Please take time to fill out surveys if you’re willing. One survey to keep an eye out for is Census of Veterinarians which will be sent out at the end of January.
- Economic State of the Profession: Download and review the economic state of the veterinary profession. With the accelerating-and at times tremendous-pace of change in both the veterinary profession and society at large, the need has never been greater for a resource to help veterinary decision-makers chart a course for the coming year and beyond. This latest report provides a detailed visual summary of the economic state of the veterinary profession and examines the major trends through the lens of veterinary education, veterinary employment, and veterinary services. Understanding current economic trends enables the veterinary community to be agile, innovative, and ready for the best possible future.
- The Practice Pulse: This tool is a real-time monthly digest of key practice data, trends, and expert insight to bolster your business strategy and help your veterinary practice stay competitive. Practice Pulse leverages benchmarked data from thousands of veterinary practices, through a partnership between AVMA and VetSuccess.
- Language of Veterinary Care Initiative: Fundamentally shifting how we communicate about veterinary care can make a big difference. The Language of Veterinary Care Initiative are tools that AVMA has created that can help veterinary teams integrate key words and phrases into daily conversations with clients. The goal is to help staff build critically important relationships with clients by fine tuning various conversations such as cost of care.
- Organizational Interventions to Burnout– This is a study performed by Cornell and is funded by AVMA and Zoetis Foundation. The purpose of this study is to identify and test strategies that can be used to reduce the rate of burnout among veterinarians through organizational trainings. The study will require participants to commit up to 20 hours of time across a 3-6 month period.
There were 5 roundtables in 2022 that involved 20 organizations and 25 key individuals from those organizations. AVMA found there was much willingness to show up and have conversations and eagerness to work collaboratively to have conversations regarding nuances in various sectors (emergency and critical care), retention and attrition in our profession, and how best to leverage the team better. Many conversations were around how we can use technicians appropriately and take the small steps to cross the bridge with our team, as well as how can we use systems and processes to improve efficiency.
DEI JOURNEY FOR TEAMS
Provides a learning pathway for vet professional to deepen knowledge of diversity and improve DEI in work spaces. The platform is designed for busy professionals to enhance and nurture their work experience and build meaningful relationships with clients and community. The goal is to expose, encourage, engage, inspire, and motivate your team. The program can be accessed at journeyforteams.org. There is a 15 minute welcome webinar, and once completed you can advance to educational models. A cornerstone guide is the navigator handbook which helps to lead staff meeting and facilitate discussions.
The AVMA marketing team is committed to supporting the veterinary community. They have created a reputation management toolkit with an educational grant from Banfield. The toolkit is online and provides new tools to address situations. A new benefit is that this is now available to all vet team members not just AVMA members. AVMA has created a list of shared responsibilities on a poster that you can share in your workplace to help manage expectations. It poses question such as: As a client what can you expect? As a client you are responsible for. Find more information at avma.org/reputationmanagement.
The AVMA is financially secure with a 1.57mm projected operational net income and a 9.8mm projected investment revenue. The year 2022 brough about a persistent pandemic, a bear market, and continued threat of recession leading to a decreased bottom line. AVMA reserves maintain 100% of operations, and it’s because of this fiscal responsibility that has allowed AVMA to continue to fully serve members and pursue initiatives amid the wild market. AVMA continues to deliver member value and maintain member satisfaction, advance advocacy and policy efforts, data -informed strategies an tools to support the veterinary workforce, execute the diversity equitant inclusion roadmap, expand the non-dues revenue strategy.
CANDIDTES for PRESIDENT ELECT ANNOUNCED
Drs. Sandra Faeh Butler, Arnie Goldman, and Bob Murtaugh all announced their candidacy for AVMA president-elect. An election will take place in July 2023 at AVMA convention in Denver, CO.
In other actions, the HOD elected Dr. James Kober, West Olive, Michigan, to fill a vacant position on the AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents representing private clinical practice, predominantly food animal.
HOUSE OF DELEGATES FORMAL BUSINESS
Nine resolutions were brought before the house
Resolution 1—Supersede Policy on Responsible Breeding of Companion Animals. This resolution passed as written.
Resolution 2—Supersede Policy on Therapeutic Medications in Non-racing Performance Horses. This resolution passed as written.
Resolution 3—New Policy on Unregulated Horse Racing. This resolution passed as written
Resolution 4—Supersede Policy on Castration and Dehorning of Cattle. This resolution passed as written.
Resolution 5— Consolidated policy on Harmonized Approach to Voluntary and Regulated Aquatic Animal Health Programs. This resolution was amended and passed as amended.
Resolution 6—Consolidated Policy on Veterinary Compounding. This resolution was amended and passed as amended.
Resolution 7—Revised Policy on The Importance of Veterinarians in Food Safety. This resolution was amended and passed as amended.
Resolution 8—Revised Policy on The Veterinarian’s Role in Supporting Appropriate Selection and Use of Service, Assistance, Emotional Support, and Therapy Animals. This resolution did not pass and was referred back to the BOD for more consideration by the animal welfare committee
Resolution 9—Revised Policy on Dog Bite Prevention. This resolution was amended and passed as amended.
VETERINARY INFORMATION FORUM
The Veterinary Healthcare Team – Is There a Need for a Mid-level Position?
The reference committee encourages that the Board of Directors consider including in the charge of the Committee on Advancing Veterinary Technology the following areas:
- Title protection
- Standardization of nomenclature
- Retention within veterinary technology field
- Financial security
- Support for the acquisition of veterinary technician specialists; and
- Consider incorporating the recommendations from the task force on veterinary
- technician utilization
The Impact of Workplace Culture on Wellbeing and Retention: no action was taken on this VIF topic, however much discussion took place.
- Workplace wellbeing requires attention to both individual and systemic factors
- Support individual efforts by making it possible for employees to take regular breaks and
- time away from work
- Across the practice/organization
- Model healthy and effective communication at all levels of leadership, including dealing
- civilly and constructively with conflict
- Acknowledge the good work of those on our teams
- Build psychological safety on teams
- Lead by example
- Establish baseline measurements and reassess at regular intervals
- Take a proactive approach using evidence-based tools
- Make self-care feasible through addressing policies and procedures
- Create a dedicated wellbeing strategy that supports a sense of belonging, facilitates
- candid and open communication, and promotes trust among all team members
Gary J Stuer, DVM
Ashley Rossman, DVM