Giving back: supporting your profession, sharing your passion

Introduction

Volunteering with the AVMA has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It has led me to grow professionally through the enhancement of my leadership skills and the improvement of my interpersonal and communication skills. I have met new colleagues and forged valuable and lasting relationships. And I have been able to help educate, promote, and advocate for veterinary medicine.

I have had the privilege of being an AVMA volunteer for almost 30 years, dating back to my days at the Louisiana State University (LSU) School of Veterinary Medicine, where I served as class representative and treasurer of the LSU AVMA student chapter. After attending my first AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference in 1999, I knew the AVMA was the right place for me. This is where I knew I could best help shape the future of our profession.

In the years since, I have served in various positions at the Puerto Rico VMA, as an alternate delegate and delegate of the AVMA House of Delegates, on the Board of Directors of both the AVMA and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, and on multiple AVMA councils and committees. The experience and knowledge I have gained by serving as chair of the AVMA Committee on International Veterinary Affairs, as AVMA president-elect, as AVMA president, as a member of the AVMA Board of Governors, and as AVMA Board liaison to the Commission for a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Veterinary Profession have helped me be a better advocate for veterinary professionals and the profession I love.

I ask you to join me on this volunteer journey because our members are critical to the AVMA’s success and relevancy, and to helping us fulfill our mission. The AVMA’s activities and direction are driven by the insight and participation provided by our volunteers. That’s because our member interests and priorities define our work. They are at the heart of what we do.

From our Board of Directors to our House of Delegates and our dozens of councils, committees, task forces, panels, and working groups, our volunteers provide countless hours of effort. They are driven by a shared passion to ensure that the needs of our 99,000-plus members are met and that the veterinary profession remains strongly positioned to effect positive change. To our volunteers both past and present—we thank you for all that you have done and continue to do. We are grateful to you for your service.

Volunteering for the AVMA gives you the opportunity to give back to a profession that has given us all so much. You help set the profession’s priorities and guide the creation of resources that help veterinarians in day-to-day life and practice. Getting involved with the AVMA empowers you to influence issues that are important to you and your ability to practice veterinary medicine. AVMA volunteer leaders help shape crucial policies and procedures for the association and at every level of government, ensuring that the profession’s voice is heard. Helping to make decisions and determining actions can also create stronger engagement, because you see firsthand that you are making a difference.

Any AVMA member can volunteer, and there are many ways to get involved. Nominations are currently open for AVMA Board of Directors District 1 representative. District 1 includes the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Vacant positions are also available on a number of AVMA councils and committees. To see current AVMA volunteer opportunities and learn about how you can make a difference, please visit avma.org/volunteer.

Our advocacy efforts are also made stronger through the voices of our AVMA Congressional Advocacy Network, which bolsters our advocacy work by reaching out to lawmakers on legislation that impacts the practice of veterinary medicine. You can also join the AVMA Ambassador Program, which gives you the opportunity to visit with lawmakers in your home state, build relationships, and ensure that members of Congress hear directly from constituent veterinarians like you about issues important to the profession.

And so, if you’re looking to make a New Year’s resolution, I encourage you to start 2022 off right by sharing your unique talents and becoming an AVMA volunteer. A strong veterinary profession needs a strong AVMA, and your work will leave behind an AVMA that is better prepared to meet the needs of society while protecting, promoting, and advancing a unified veterinary profession. The deeper your connection and engagement with the AVMA, the more our community can achieve together.

José Arce, DVM

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