2023 IVMA President Dr. Greg Kurtz

Dear IVMA Members –

March Madness! 

For many of us, March Madness means buzzer beaters, late nights watching games, and busted brackets.  In large animal practice, March Madness means a full schedule of herd visits while trying to “work in” obstetrics, prolapses, and C-sections.  We do this while dealing with gray skies, rain, and mud, so we enjoy the simple pleasures of waterproof outerwear and boots, dry socks, and a mug of hot, black coffee.  In companion animal practice, March Madness is a full slate of surgeries and appointments but also juggling the emergencies of plugged cats, HBCs, and pancreatitis, while dealing with staff distracted by spring break and sick kids.  When you add on top of that tax time, INSPECT, and the occasional FDA inspection – YIKES – it gets pretty hectic.  We may live by the mantra, Survive and Advance.  When I look at my schedule, if I can survive today, I can advance to the challenges of tomorrow!

The IVMA is here to not only help us to Survive and Advance, but to Survive and Thrive!  Our group of dedicated volunteers working on the Efficiency Working Group will continue to be pushing out to us resources to help us in our practices.  The Workforce Task Force is addressing challenges in professional and lay staffing with some practical ideas we can implement in practice.  This year is a long legislative session and budget year at the statehouse, so the Legislative Working Group is keeping us informed about the legislation that impacts our profession.  It is important that we keep our practices running smoothly, but in order to do that we all need some self-care and to be concerned about our individual health and wellness.  The Health and Wellness Working Group has developed for us the Power Up member assistance program available to all of our members and also our employees and their families.  Information about all of these programs is available on our website and watch your email for more information.

For the IVMA to continue to grow we must not just Survive today to Advance to tomorrow, we must look to the future so we can Survive and Thrive.  To meet this challenge, the IVMA Board of Directors has recently made an important decision involving the staffing of the association. As you all know, Lisa Perius has served as the Executive Director of IVMA for over 27 years. Our Member Services Director, Lourdes Syndram, has served the IVMA for over 13 years. While the Board, and you, appreciate the hard work of these two valued IVMA employees, we also know that at some point Lisa would like to retire. The Board established a Staffing Task Force that met many times in 2022 to determine how to provide an exit strategy for Lisa when she is ready, maintain the high standard of IVMA’s member value, and provide business continuity for the association in the event of illness, death, etc. IVMA has been fortunate to have had only two individuals as executive directors in the past 50 years!

Planning for these transitions and situations is a fiduciary responsibility of the Board. The Staffing Task Force researched how other VMAs, similarly sized and funded, around the country operate. They researched costs to hire additional staff.  We learned from this analysis that we have been running a very lean organization, but potentially at some risk.  The analysis showed:

Comparison made to 9 VMAs with greatest similarities to IVMA.

  • Percent of veterinarians in state as members ranged from 48% to 79% with an average of 61%. (IVMA 79%)
  • Staff salaries as a % of expenses ranged from 22% to 54% of expenses with an average of 40%. (IVMA 31%)
  • Total number of staff ranged from 1 to 9 in the VMAs with an average of 4.25. (IVMA 2)
  • Number of full-time staff ranged from 1 to 5 in the VMAs with an average of 3. (IVMA 2)

While maintaining the highest percentage of veterinarians in the state as members, the IVMA is operating with one of the smallest staffs and minimal benefits package while supporting a similar number of members. IVMA devotes a lower percent of association expenses to staff salaries and benefits than do 8 of the 9 VMAs in the comparison group.

The staffing task force researched the costs and viability to move IVMA to an association management company (AMC). Based on all this research, the task force recommended going to an AMC model. The Board discussed this at length and voted at their January 2023 board meeting to move the services of IVMA to an association management company. The Corydon Group will assume responsibility for the IVMA day to day services beginning July 1, 2023. IVMA has worked with The Corydon Group for over 20 years as our governmental relations/lobbying team for IVMA. The Corydon Group will hire Lisa and Lourdes as employees, and they will continue to serve IVMA as our primary staff.

Bottom line? Nothing will change for IVMA members – we will maintain Lisa and Lourdes as our staff and the move (literally and figuratively) will give them more bandwidth to offer additional member value for our members.  The IVMA Board and leadership are excited to move the association forward so that we can Survive and Thrive.

I want to give a thank-you to the dedicated volunteers of the Crossroads Working Group.  It was great to see and visit with so many veterinarians at another successful Crossroads Conference.  For me, the best thing about being a veterinarian is the great relationships I have developed with clients and fellow veterinarians.  The Crossroads Conference is a great place to strengthen relationships and working with the IVMA is a great place for all of us to develop professional relationships.

In closing, I look forward to serving as IVMA President in this coming year and I especially look forward to working with our dedicated Board of Directors and the great volunteers on our working groups and task forces.  Please consider joining us as a volunteer!  If you have questions or concerns about the IVMA feel free to contact me at gregkurtz56@gmail.com, or call the IVMA office.

Dr. Greg Kurtz