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  News from the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association                                                  Winter 2013

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Become Active in the MVMA and Help Yourself
by Brendan Anders, DVM, DACVS

“I’m too busy” is a thought I commonly have. In fact, the words have occasionally been formed and spoken before I heard the complete request. It was commonplace during my internship and residency to be overwhelmed with thoughts of things that needed to be done yesterday.

Having been in private practice now for 12 years, I have improved my ability to manage time but still recognize that “downtime” is rare. These past 12 years have also identified some shortcomings in my veterinary education. They didn’t teach me about the many legal issues a veterinarian is exposed to or how our careers are dependent on the economy and legislation driven decisions which can quickly disrupt our routines/lifestyles. This awareness came gradually through some personal mistakes, journal review (that first 20 pages of JAVMA that I used to skip), media sources (TV and newspapers articles) and peer discussions of the tribulations associated with ownership and management of a business.

For years, like many recent graduates, I avoided these topics and, frankly, wasn’t certain that their concerns were my concerns. I assumed it was enough to faithfully join the appropriate state veterinary agencies and larger groups, like the AVMA and ACVS, with the understanding that someone else would be doing the leg work in a manner that represented my best interests. What I now know is that there is plenty of work to be done. In fact, given the exponential advances in medicine, increases in consumer advocacy organizations and owner education (or lack thereof) our extracurricular responsibilities are increasing and the number of people accepting that responsibility is decreasing.

Skip forward to today and my recent appointment to a committee with the MVMA. I, like a few others I suspect, showed up to the first meeting as a result of a guilty conscience and an innate inability to refuse a free meal. Once I arrived I was shocked by the number of people being asked to represent the profession while also working the same hours as the rest of us. With my conscience egging me on, I decided to become a voice and contributor to the process. Okay, I’m just going to say it. I decided to become part of the solution not part of the problem.

With over 2,500 licensed veterinarians in the state of Maryland, the knowledge that we are relying on so few to accurately represent our interests, educate the public, warn us of developing legal and medical issues and set up programs for continuing education was concerning to me. In such an altruistic profession, I suspect the shortage of volunteers to be due to a lack of awareness about how to get involved. In thinking back, I myself had no idea of how to get involved or what role the MVMA played in our industry. I would suspect this to be true, not only among new vets, but among many in our profession. This editorial is both an admission of my own lack of knowledge and a plea to our community to use the initiative we have all previously shown necessary to become veterinarians and channel that towards addressing the issues that impact our profession.

Taking that first step to volunteer is the hard part; the jobs and deadlines are the easy part as we are a profession of list-makers, achievers and leaders. Give it some thought and contact one of the MVMA officers if you are interested in volunteering: Dr. Kris Evans; Dr. Jan Ginsky; or Dr. Eric Boshoven. We could certainly use your help. And the best part is you’ll also be helping yourself!

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