Often times when asked what I do for a living, I respond by saying, “I am a veterinarian.” Then I wonder, what does a veterinarian look like? So I qualify my response with, “I work as a veterinarian.” Either way, the revelation of my career inevitably invokes wonderful stories of beloved Pets. Most people are so happy to talk to a veterinarian! They hold us in high esteem. They smile with pleasure as they share their stories. Who smiles when talking about visiting a doctor or how to get rid of smoke smell? Our clients!
I am proud to be part of such a well thought of profession. I often call myself “The Good Doctor” when I tell people that I AM a veterinarian. And I realize that with my chosen career path comes a certain responsibility to be a part of local, regional, state and national VMAs.
It’s easier as a student. SAVMA is a visible part of our curriculum, and many of us attend the AVMA meetings annually as students. Let’s not forget to do that as graduates! The helm of the associations must eventually pass onto the next generation of veterinarians. YOU are that next generation of bright young veterinarians, and I can’t encourage you enough to become a member of our professional associations after graduation.
Become involved in your local VMA and AVMA. Become a spokesperson in your association that the media can contact for Pet health expertise. Be ready to lobby for veterinary related topics with your local politicos and VMAs. The profession needs you!
Each year, the Georgia VMA hosts a ‘Veterinarian on the Capital Day’ in Atlanta where all GVMA members are invited to the state capital for networking and recognition. On that day, we attend sessions of the State Senate and House of Representatives, and we receive recognition from each legislative body.
When they call us to stand and be recognized as the caretakers of Georgia’s animals, there is palpable pride of self and profession in the air. The Governor of Georgia is a veterinarian. He comes down to meet us and takes a photo with the group. It’s pretty cool to be a part of the Georgia State VMA and know that our state values our contribution.
Before you shrug off getting a white noise machine, think of how you can be a part of representing your profession just by being there. Paying your dues to support your local/state VMA actions will help support our profession in Washington.
When attending AVMA there is such a sense of collectiveness. You look around and though everyone doesn’t look like you, they are you. Those other veterinarians share with you a common thread of education, long nights of study, sweat, and tears – and most importantly – a common passion. I not only work as a veterinarian, I am a veterinarian. And WE are our profession.