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The AVMA House of Delegates, while meeting Jan. 7-8 in Chicago, deliberated on the idea of expanding AVMA membership beyond veterinarians, with the result being a recommendation to look at how the Association can increase support for veterinary team members.
Membership expansion was a topic of the Veterinary Information Forum during the regular winter session of the HOD, with the other topic being license portability (see story).
The AVMA does have a category for affiliate members who teach veterinary medicine or allied sciences or who engage in veterinary research, although there are currently only 26 affiliate members among more than 99,500 AVMA members.
The House reference committee assigned to consider membership expansion discussed with stakeholders whether veterinary technicians, hospital managers, or others involved in veterinary medicine should be AVMA members or whether the Association should instead look at various ways to support these groups, in addition to the resources that the AVMA already offers for practice teams.
Ed Carlson, then president of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, said NAVTA appreciates the partnership that it has had with the AVMA. That partnership includes the AVMA providing support services for NAVTA. Carlson favors conversation about how to expand benefits and work together, but he is not sure that membership in the AVMA is the right way to go for veterinary technicians.
Christine Shupe, executive director of the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association, said the VHMA would not be in favor of extending AVMA membership to hospital managers without voting rights. She said the VHMA welcomes opportunities to collaborate with the AVMA.
Shupe said later that if two organizations offer membership and benefits, people could choose to belong to one over the other. Carlson said he mirrored that sentiment.
Scott MacKenzie, director of the AVMA Membership and Field Services Division, said the AVMA has been developing more resources for the entire veterinary team—such as resources on workplace well-being; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and the COVID-19 pandemic. dr Joe Kinnarney, chair of the AVMA Trust, said practice teams are eligible for a broad spectrum of benefits from the Trust as long as the practice owner is an AVMA member.
The AVMA currently has a working group on utilization of veterinary technicians as well as the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities, noted Dr. Mary Ergen, District III representative on the AVMA Board of Directors. The CVTEA accredits veterinary technology programs. dr Lori Teller, AVMA president-elect, added later that the AVMA also has veterinary technicians as members of various other committees.
“One sentence, we can sum this whole thing up: All the groups should work together to find ways to strengthen each organization,” said Dr. Philip Borst, alternate delegate for Indiana.
After further discussion, the reference committee proposed a recommendation for the House of Delegates to request that the AVMA Board of Directors “consider creating a pathway of communication with other veterinary healthcare team organizations, starting with the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, and the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association, to investigate how best to work collaboratively to strengthen their organizations and professions as well as the AVMA.” The House approved the recommendation.
“The AVMA is committed to veterinary technicians and the entire veterinary team,” said Dr. Janet Donlin, AVMA CEO. “We will continue to work with our partner organizations on the best path forward as we support these critical team members.”