President’s Message – March, 2015
As a new veterinarian, I used to arrive at my practice every morning with a certain sense of focus, thinking I knew what the routine would be and roughly aware of all that would face me. Like most of you, that sense is long gone, with my arrival now marked by a valiant charge toward my desk, receptionists and technicians waving charts before me, at least one utility or bit of software failing, and an exam room ominously filled with something unexpected. I fed my kids and got them to the school bus, but the transition from “Daddy” to “Dr. Risser!!!” is always a shock to the system. My focus lasted about ten seconds. Add the internet, where I routinely have several windows open in my browser at any given time (yesterday I accidently closed it with a record eleven windows open…it took me about half an hour to rebuild my browsing empire!), and I am officially “all-over-the-place.” Really, I’m not that unique…many of us are like that. Veterinarians are supreme multitaskers who need others in our lives to keep things in focus and bring us back when we stray.
With that in mind, and as I look at the year ahead where I have the honor of serving the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association as president, I hope to maintain some focus in my role as our association faces many challenges on a variety of fronts. Fortunately, our Board of Directors has developed a strategic plan to deal with those challenges, focused on four key areas and with specific actions to achieve them. At our annual meeting in February, I had a few minutes to share thoughts for the year ahead. Since I need some (or a lot of) structure to actually get things done, I have summarized my own take on these strategic goals with the verbs: “Lead, Educate, Advocate, and Protect” (which my cluttered brain can remember as the acronym “LEAP”). As our board meets this month in a session to address our goals and brainstorm ways to accomplish them, you can take great comfort that a talented group of your representatives will energetically engage the task.
IVMA has already shown to importance of our association to “Lead” over the past months. The executive board attended the AVMA Leadership Conference in a typically-frigid Chicago January to learn new ways to lead the association for maximum effectiveness, how to be responsive and nimble, and how to advance new leaders. It’s my hope that we can find and grow leaders in all areas of veterinary medicine in Indiana, across generations, geography, and career paths, so that we place the best people in the right positions as issues and needs arise. Our nationally-regarded “Power of Ten” program has been a terrific catalyst for young leaders, many of whom currently serve in leadership already and the newest group of whom was recognized at our annual meeting.
The annual meeting, by the way, was a terrific four days, with a consensus that it had some of the best speakers in the country offering outstanding continuing education. I learned enough to become insufferable to my staff. It is a testament to the time and diligence of the Continuing Education and Annual Meeting teams (who looked as exhausted as might be expected at the end of the meeting), as well as Lisa Perius and the executive staff, and all those who volunteered as moderators, that all went so well. The exhibit hall was an active scene, with a wide variety of vendors helping keep the costs of the meeting manageably low for our members. Since they’re not the type of people to rest on their laurels, expect to see these teams work toward making our next annual meeting even better, and continuing to develop online continuing education as a perk of membership. IVMA continues to see its role to “Educate” as one in which it is uniquely qualified.
The Indiana legislature is in session, if you hadn’t noticed, and IVMA is actively working to “Advocate” for you. Helping to advance good legislation—and block bad—often occurs below the radar of most of our busy members. Drs. Julie Davis and Brian Biggers testified to a Senate committee on SB 508, the “equine therapy” bill, with great medical consistency and passion, and represented us well. I could go on for a while here about the work of others on a host of issues…but won’t. This is one of the major reasons that we must come together as more than the sum of our individual members. Things move fast in the legislative arena, and we need the strength of the IVMA to be truly effective.
Finally, IVMA plays a major role to “Protect” our practices and our profession. Central Indiana veterinarians were treated to a series of Indianapolis Star articles that challenged our ethics and questioned our scientific acumen. IVMA responded immediately, and will continue to monitor the press for threats to the superb reputation so many have worked so hard to build for our profession. We still seek to find constructive ways to deal with the challenges some not-for-profit groups have posed to private practices. And we are exploring ways to help all of our members find balance between personal and professional life. Veterinarians are an idealistic, perfectionistic, autonomous bunch of folks and we often need to be reminded to look after ourselves if we want to continue working—and living—well.
The great news is that IVMA has some remarkable people involved in all these efforts, and I appreciate the work that they—and my predecessors in the role of President—have accomplished to make my job so much easier. Please call or e-mail me with your thoughts, or (better yet) with a desire to plug in to a group working on one of these issues. We have a strong and vibrant association that can do even better work with your participation, and I’d love to hear from you.
Just don’t call me before about 10:00AM. I am a lost and unfocused soul before then.
Dr. Jerry Risser