The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) held its first winter House of Delegates (HOD) meeting during its annual Veterinary Leadership Conference, Jan. 11-13, 2008 to expand the association’s ability to handle business year round.
Dr. Mark Helfat, chair of the AVMA House Advisory Committee (HAC), says that the new winter meeting, which became one of two annual HOD meetings, will create greater synergy between the House of Delegates and other leadership committees, including the HAC, and it will allow delegates more flexibility in how to conduct business.
“The impetus behind having a winter meeting of the House of Delegates was really to give delegates an additional chance to discuss policy and pass resolutions without having to delay acting on important issues until the annual convention held every July. The delegates felt that every year we would have a number of resolutions that we should discuss over the winter, and these resolutions are one of the most important aspects of being a delegate. We establish policy for the AVMA in regard to veterinary medicine. That’s our duty,” Dr. Helfat explains. “One of the most important functions of the HAC is a clear communication with the AVMA’s HOD, and this winter meeting will really help facilitate that. This second meeting of the year will become extremely important.”
At this first winter HOD meeting, delegates from across the country discussed the process by which members of the AVMA Council on Education are selected. This council is crucial to the AVMA veterinary school accreditation process, which ensures the quality of education for veterinarians working in this country.
“It takes a special individual to be on the Council on Education. While all AVMA councils are important, the Council on Education is the gold standard and, in order to remain the gold standard, we have to have the best representatives on this council,” Dr. Helfat says. “The Council on Education is terribly demanding. These individuals must make time to visit all the schools that are being accredited, and this involves international as well as domestic travel. Council members also have to maintain a strict code of ethics.”
Delegates also discussed expanding the length of the AVMA summer House of Delegates meetings to take on more business.
There were 470 AVMA member leaders at the January meetings in Schaumburg, Ill. One of the most exciting new developments at the conference was a test run of the AVMA’s new electronic voting system, which will allow delegates to take quick and accurate votes. Voting between state delegates is weighted according to the state population, meaning that a vote from California’s delegate carries a great deal more weight than a vote from Alaska. The new electronic voting system, which will be used for the first time at the AVMA’s annual convention in New Orleans in July, will compute the results of each HOD vote instantly.
To hear more from Dr. Helfat about the Veterinary Leadership Conference, click here (mp3, 6.5MB), or visit the AVMA Media Library at www.avmamedia.org. For more information about the AVMA, please visit the association Web site at www.avma.org.