President’s message from Dr Alistair Webb – July 2023

27 Jul 2023

Dr Alistair Webb with Dr Paula Parker and Dr Jule Strous at the AVMA Convention

In June I represented the AVA at the New Zealand Veterinary Association Conference in Wellington (you can read about that here). Then, after a very brief return to Australia, I flew to Canada to attend the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) Convention in Quebec City, before heading to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Convention in Denver Colorado.

It was great to be in Canada to help the CVMA celebrate its 75th anniversary – it was established by an act of Parliament in 1948. The AVA and CVMA share mutual appreciation and respect and assist and support each other. We also share many concerns and issues, with the Convention focusing on the evolution of vet practice in a disrupted and demanding world and a national issues forum showcasing vet practices adapting to the current workforce shortages.

Dr Alistair Webb with incoming CVMA President,Trevor Lawson

The 600 delegates at the CVMA Conference were very relatable and manageable. But the scale and intensity of 8000 delegates at the AVMA Convention in Denver was an eye opener. The convention had up to 24 concurrent streams and the Trade Exhibition and Hall was something else!

It was a fantastic experience meeting the former and current leaders of the profession in the US. It was great to catch up with Past AVA President, Dr Paula Parker – now Chief of Professional Relationships and Strategic Initiatives at AVMA.

I also ran into fellow Australian, Dr Julie Strous, Executive Director of the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council.

I was privileged to address the AVMA House of Delegates and bring greetings from the AVA to their convention. The AVMA House of Delegates seemed to appreciate me sticking to the recommended three-minute presentation (with a light sprinkling of humour) rather the average 10-15 minute dissertation.

Dr Alistiair Webb addressing the AVMA House of Delegates

At the AVMA convention I was struck by the warm hospitality and the infectious enthusiasm to face challenges. The former leaders of the AVMA also shared fond recollections of their visits to Australia. The good will that exists between our association helps the generous exchange of ideas when looking for potential solutions to our challenges. We are further down the track of acknowledging and dealing with environmental sustainability in the profession and the Americans can teach us plenty about the model for success in advocacy and lobbying with the different levels of Government.

One of the takeaways for me is that while it may not be all smooth sailing for AVA, our structure is vastly more workable that those of our larger neighbours. It might be challenging to wrangle a consensus from the many different sections of our Association, but it seems to be more achievable than trying to bring together many different autonomous vet associations under the one banner.

Dr Alistair Webb with Dr Lori Teller, AVMA past President

It is most important for the AVA to be an active member of the global veterinary profession. It gives us the opportunity to share ideas, learn from each other and help one another deal with our many shared challenges.