Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald: Our professional organizations need us

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Dec 08, 2008
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Our professional organizations need us

Each year the local, state, and national veterinary societies hold their annual meetings. They offer continuing education, bring in national speakers, spotlight new techniques and equipment, hold roundtable discussions, and offer courses in business and practice management. Almost all conceivable aspects of veterinary medicine are examined, explored, and debated. The strengths of these societies, their meetings, and the continuing education they offer lie in the veterinarians that compose these groups. The individual veterinarian is the strength and the blood of the profession.

Together we are strong. Together we can make the public listen about pertinent animal health issues, emerging diseases, and pressing topics in animal health. Veterinary societies provide a means through which our message of conscientious animal care can be made more visible and readily available. Despite so many tangible rewards from continued involvement in organized veterinary medicine, many local and state organizations report that many veterinarians are no longer joining or participating. I would challenge veterinary societies to re-evaluate how they can make themselves more pertinent to new graduates and to find new frontiers that make joining more attractive to potential new members. In these tough economic surroundings, veterinary societies must offer things that make membership essential and must also do something that sets them apart from other groups. They must continue civic- and community-minded programs that give something back to the communities where they live. The mission of our societies must be to guarantee involvement through establishment and maintenance of novel programs. The societies must convince young graduates and new veterinarians that membership is critical by offering constantly evolving coursework and programs that they cannot receive anywhere else.

If we are to stay strong, young veterinarians must become involved in local, state, and national societies. But the societies themselves must struggle to stay relevant and offer the coursework, programs, and social functions that young veterinarians feel that they need. Encourage young veterinarians by your example. Attend society luncheons, go to CE events, and become involved by serving as a board or committee member. If we don’t stay involved, we get the organizations that we deserve and someone else will regulate our profession. Stay involved!

See you next week, Kev