Gregory S. Hammer, DVM, president-elect of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), officially assumed the presidency of the organization Tuesday morning at the 144th Annual Convention in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Hammer, of Dover, Del., was elected to the post last July at the AVMA Convention in Honolulu, Hawaii. He replaces Roger Mahr, DVM, as president. James Cook, DVM, was elected as the new president-elect of the AVMA.
In his remarks to the AVMA House of Delegates Friday, Dr. Hammer shared his concerns about the future of veterinary medicine and what veterinarians need to do to advance the profession on numerous fronts. The AVMA and its members, Dr. Hammer said, “”are facing some significant challenges in the years ahead.””
One of those challenges, Dr. Hammer said, deals with animal welfare issues and the role veterinarians play in advancing science and forming public opinion.
Dr. Hammer said veterinarians need to become a “”leading resource for sound, science-based guidance on animal welfare by convincing influence-leaders that the advice of veterinarians is the most responsible.”” He added that time and effort will be needed to counter criticism of the veterinary profession “”by those who would like to replace us as stewards of animal well-being.””
Increasing minority representation in the profession is also on Dr. Hammer’s agenda. While women are expected this year to outnumber men in the profession for the first time ever, the profession is still largely white, and that presents the challenge of “”becoming a more diverse profession, mirroring the public we serve while remaining unified,”” Dr. Hammer said.
Topping Dr. Hammer’s agenda, however, is addressing the critical shortage of veterinarians working in public health practice, including areas that ensure food safety, fight bio-terrorism and oversee environmental health and regulatory medicine.
“”Together these threaten our country’s ability to protect our nation’s wholesome food supply from the farm to fork,”” Dr. Hammer said. “”At a time when more and more emerging disease is zoonotic and the potential for bio-terrorism and food safety disasters are increasing, our capability to respond is decreasing.””
Dr. Hammer said veterinarians can help reverse the veterinarian shortage by getting involved in the legislative process and by encouraging the next generation to pursue careers in the veterinary profession.
He urged his colleagues to support and lobby for passage of the Veterinary Public Health Workforce Expansion Act, which if approved by Congress and signed into law would provide competitive grants to United States veterinary colleges to improve teaching facilities, build classrooms and research laboratories, and resolve the shortage of veterinarians entering the field of public health.
“”We can talk about solving this problem or we can actually solve it,”” Dr. Hammer said. “”The time is now for you to get involved. Your passion and the passion of those you inspire is what will solve this impending crisis.””