VMAE Updates | Summer Conference

VMAE | Summer Conference 2018 in Denver has concluded – but I’m still enjoying the warm feeling that results from spending time with such a great collection of colleagues, and I’m still excited about all the great information that came forward from VMAE “messengers!’ In case you couldn’t be present, or just need a synopsis as a reminder of what you experienced, here’s a recap:

  • The conference convened with the awards luncheon on Friday, during which VMAE members and invited guests congratulated these award winners:
    • Best in the Business – Emily Kane, Arizona VMA (project: public directory of veterinary clinics)
    • Distinguished Service – Candace Joy, Washington State VMA
    • Executive of the Year – Chris Copeland, JD, CAE, Texas VMA

      You’ll find photos and additional information on the website by clicking here.

  • The Professional Development Committee assembled a terrific program comprised of three threads:
    • Friday afternoon’s session, The Evolving Ecosystem of Animal Care, explored trends in outcomes and shifts in tactics at animal welfare organizations (by Roger Haston, PhD); the expanded market potential created by access to veterinary care by marginalized communities (by David Haworth, DVM); a case for a OneHealth approach in providing access to veterinary care (by Michael Blackwell, DVM, MPH); and agreement reached and outcomes generated at the Collaboration Summit held with The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement (by Gary Weitzman, DVM, MPH, CAWA and yours truly).
    • Friday afternoon concluded with R3 – the Retirement Recognition Reception, where we bade farewell to two long-time VMA executives: Louise Cook of the Kentucky VMA, and Rick Alampi of the New Jersey VMA. Given the personalities involved, and given the availability of adult beverages, you can imagine that great enjoyment was shared through telling stories and sharing tender moments. You can read the certificates that were presented to Louise and Rick in appreciation for their service by clicking each link.
    • Saturday morning started with a bonus session with marketing expert Christopher O’Toole, of Breightly.com, who presented concepts and examples of membership value conversation starters developed by the Marketing Task Force. The task force and Chris were tasked to develop value proposition statements that all VMAE members could use in their organizations, and the audience enthusiastically embraced the results of this effort. The session was recorded on video (thanks, Lisa Perius!) and you’ll be notified when it’s available on the VMAE YouTube channel – and you’ll also be invited to register for a September 5 video conference with Chris to elaborate on the use of images in messaging (from finding and selecting them to appropriately licensing their use).
    • Saturday sessions continued with a focus on wellbeing. Linda Lord, DVM, presented findings from the recent study of veterinarian mental health and wellbeing that was coordinated by Merck Animal Health. Then Jen Brandt, PhD and Elizabeth Strand, PhD, LCSW turned to the wellbeing of VMA executives during their session on “The Veterinary Executive Toolbox: Conflict Transformation, Boundary Setting, and Wellbeing.”You will be notified when presentation materials shared by the speakers have been added to the VMAE website (under Professional Development | Past Meeting Materials).
  • During the annual membership meeting luncheon, President Deloris Green Gaines made us smile with her charm and humor, and helped us realize just how many volunteers are engaged in the work of VMAE. She thanked everyone who is involved, including the Board of Directors with whom she has worked so closely during the year of her presidency. Thank YOU for your leadership, Deloris! Treasurer Phil Hinkle noted that VMAE received a clean opinion from a CPA who conducted a financial review of the 2016 fiscal year, and Phil reported that revenue and expenses for VMAE are in line with the budget and that VMAE is in solid financial shape.
  • VMAE | Fall Conference 2018 will be held in (drumroll, please!) – Nashville, and the hip and wonderful Hotel Indigo, from November 8-10. The program will feature Jeffrey Cufaude, back by popular demand to lead Friday’s sessions on “Innovation by Design” and then to facilitate Saturday morning’s session on “Peer-Peer Problem-Solving by Design.” Stay tuned for registration details, but be sure to mark your calendar TODAY!
  • Elections for the Board of Directors were conducted, and your board serving for 2018/2019 is comprised of the following individuals:
    • President – Dan Tjornehoj, JD, Minnesota VMA
    • President-elect – Megan Kilgore, Kansas VMA
    • Treasurer – Phil Hinkle, Florida VMA
    • Secretary – Jost am Rhyn, Canadian VMA
    • Immediate Past President – Deloris Green Gaines, Tennessee VMA
    • Director – Susan Blevins, Georgia VMA
    • Director – Tamara Spooner, New Mexico VMA
    • Director – Marie Queen, South Carolina VMA
    • Director – Randy Wheeler, Iowa VMA
    • CEO – Ralph Johnson (non-voting)
  • Members heard remarks from our Strategic Initiative Partners, who provide the resources to power VMAE activities and intiatives. I was delighted to announce a new Gold-level partnership with Petco, which was represented by Whitney Miller, DVM. I was elated to thank Elanco Animal Health, represented by Tony Rumschlag, DVM and Heidi Hulon, DVM, for its sustained support for the Power of 10 program – and also to announce that Elanco has become VMAE’s first-ever Titanium-level partner, signifying $50,000 in financial support. I hope you’ll add to the thunderous applause that our partners deserve for their belief in VMAE and our role in the veterinary ecosystem!

During the CEO report at the luncheon, I couldn’t restrain myself from celebrating examples of the great resources that VMAE is providing for VMAE members, for your VMA members, and for the veterinary profession. It was also a treat to announce several new resources that VMAE is launching!

Resources for YOU

  • VMAE strives to keep you abreast of important and fast-moving information through complementary channels of communication – two digital newsletters, the listserv, and a Facebook page. Peer to Peer News (providing news and commentary for VMA executives) and Peer to Peer Extra (providing news about VMAE partners) were recently reformatted and are achieving high open rates (of 47% versus not-for-profit average open rates of 19%!). News items also populate our searchable news feed on the website.
  • We’re using video-conferencing technology, thanks to The Bridge Club, to convene members-only discussion on important topics like the Veterinary Nurse Initiative. Not only does this provide an engaging pathway for peer exchanges, it also acquaints us with a technology platform that could be useful to VMAs.
  • Diversity and inclusion resources are now available in the VMAE website, an outcome of the VMAE | ThinkWORKS 2018 program held this spring. Thanks to Lisa Greenhill, EdD, at AAVMC, we were able to involve a spectacular faculty in delivering an impactful workshop. As you consider the implications of D&I for your association, please utilize the resources on the VMAE website that cover both theory and application of D&I concepts.
  • Helping you market the value of membership in your association was the goal of the Marketing Task Force, and as noted in comments above the session presented by consultant Christopher O’Toole was videotaped and will be available soon for you (and your team members) to review. Chris made a thought-provoking presentation about how the task force moved from thinking about value proposition statements for different (and expanding) member segments – to thinking about commonality of need and the importance of feeling connected to the cause our organizations bring to life. Working with Chris, the task force produced compelling value statements for four common needs, as well as supporting text that expands on the concept along with images that add impact to the message. Each VMAE organization will be able to use this material, customizing it to the particular needs and personality of the particular VMA.
  • A very exciting opportunity for your professional development is coming alive through the Momentum e-learning program with Mary Byers (you may recall her from our in-person programs, or as the author of Race for Relevance and The Road to Relevance). Momentum is designed to deliver bite-sized strategy starters, at your convenience, to stimulate deep, uninterrupted thinking about association strategy. Each of the three online modules is divided into chapters, so you can consume content (and reflect on it) at your own pace.A live webcast with Mary Byers, which will contain both presentation and dialog, provides the capstone for the course. And because VMAE values the richness of our conversations, we created a bonus – the Momentum Book Club! Book club discussions will be held at the end of August, September, and October, using the video conferencing platform hosted by The Bridge Club. Through facilitated discussion, we’ll share insights, “aha!” moments, and questions about association strategy.You’ll find all the Momentum details hereRegistration is open – and it’s FREE to VMAE members (Use the code: VMAEmember). Non members are $275. Register TODAY!

Resources for your members

  • Through a new strategic partnership with the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA), your members have FREE access to tools designed to elevate financial literacy. Titled “Boosting Your Financial IQ to Maximize Fiscal Performance” the four-part webinar series has completed the first webinar – and the Michigan VMA and New York State VMS get shout-outs for attracting registrations from a significant number of their members! You can do the same simply by creating awareness of this series with your members – turn-key messaging and webinar registration links can be found here on the VMAE website. It’s easy. Help your members succeed!
  • To enhance veterinary practice management, VMAE is pleased to collaborate with VetPartners in offering Veterinary Practice Management Essentials (VPME), a free digital booklet available for download. The VPME is a tool developed by veterinarians, practice owners, and management professionals of VetPartners to help elevate financial acumen, business skills and management experience amongst veterinary professionals. The VPME provides an inventory of management and business functions and skills critical to operating a financially viable veterinary hospital. You’ll find information here on the VMAE website that you can use to make your members aware of the complimentary resource – along with a self-assessment tool to help a member assess readiness for engaging a consultant or advisor.
  • You may recall our collective success of our Set. Go! campaign to raise awareness of the value of forward booking. In collaboration with Partners for Health Pets, VMAE is launching another campaign – the Ready. Set. Go2! Inactive Client Initiativeto help practices bring inactive clients back in for a visit. This use of empathic messaging has been proven effective, and leads to healthier pets and healthier practices.The program doesn’t involve staff training or changes to current protocols – simply a staff member or two to identify inactive clients, email them with ready-to-use and tested messaging, then start booking appointments! You’ll find all the details here on the VMAE website – and I call your attention to the pledge form indicating your VMA’s commitment to participate, which VMAE would like to receive no later than September 1. Please review the turn-key materials, and remember how effective we were with forward booking – then send in your pledge form! It’s another way to demonstrate value to your VMA members, and to help absentee pet owners to bring their pets back to their veterinarians for needed care. Ready. Set. Go2!

Resources for the profession

In addition to providing resources for you and for your VMA members, VMAE is also actively contributing to and serving as a resource for the veterinary profession. For example, with The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement we convened a Collaboration Summit where the boards of each organization met jointly to develop an action plan for collaboration between the organizations and at the grassroots level between individual practitioners. VMAE is engaged with a range of partner organizations to inform and support an array of profession-wide initiatives, including telehealth, wellbeing, educational debt, pet nutrition, feline health, financial literacy, practice management, and more. And we are convening a LIFEskills Summit in October where 25 thought leaders from our partners will gather to envision a plan for a digital portal to bring Power of 10 content to the broader audiences who seek such content using online, on-demand systems.

I hope you share my appreciation for VMAE’s rich legacy of professional development and enthusiasm for VMAE’s expanding and strategically aligned role in the veterinary ecosystem. It all comes together to support VMAE’s mission: To help VMA executives create thriving organizations and provide effective leadership within the veterinary profession.