At the membership luncheon on January 12 in Chicago during the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference, VMAE President Dan Tjornehoj, Treasurer Phil Hinkle, and CEO Ralph Johnson presented information on recent accomplishments and forthcoming initiatives:

  • Strategy – Dan thanked members for providing valuable input about what “you and your members need” and for “affirming how valuable VMAE is to your professional satisfaction and success.” He was referring to the member survey that informed the Board of Directors strategy session held in November, which was “very capably facilitated by our own Doug Raven.” Ralph added “You’ll find it’s all about wellbeing – yours, the veterinary profession, and this organization.” A summary of member input, along with the strategic framework and action plan, are being finalized and will be communicated to members.
  • Finance – Phil informed members that VMAE continues to be in solid financial position, and that fiscal year 2018 ended with positive net revenue, and that the fiscal year 2019 budget also projects positive net revenue. Financial reports are posted on the VMAE website for member access.  Phil thanked our Strategic Initiative Partners for their financial commitment, which powers the work of VMAE.
  • Inactive Client Program – Ralph encouraged participation VMAE’s second initiative to support pet health AND practice health was launched, in collaboration with Partners for Healthy Pets. The program is proven effective, with dramatic results in re-connecting pets needing care with their veterinarian, and in generating significant revenue for the practice – just by communicating a more empathic message to lapsed clients. You can find turnkey resources on the VMAE website to help create awareness with your members on the straightforward way they can implement this program. Participating VMAs are collectively highlighting the inactive client opportunity through June 30. The door is still open for your VMA to join the campaign; just email ralphjohnson@vmae.org to get engaged in a great way to support your members’ success.
  • Momentum e-Learning Course – This online professional development course remains available to you throughout 2019. Developed by Mary Byers, the well-known presenter, author, and leader in association management, Momentum is provided to you as a membership benefit – no charge. There’s no need to travel or buy hotels – conversations with Mary Byers are available whenever and wherever you wish. Check out the content at vmae.org to help you become a more strategic leader.
  • Webinar Series – Ralph observed “I think we all probably share the perception that the worlds of both veterinary medicine and association management are becoming increasingly complex. Fortunately, lots of talented people are thinking deeply about these two worlds, and they have wisdom to share in a new webinar series that VMAE will launch in 2019. Thanks to board action earlier this week, you’ll be able to join a webinar each month to learn from and interact with a stellar line-up of presenters. This series will be presented as another benefit of your membership, at no charge. Watch your email box for details soon!”
  • Veterinary Debt Initiative – As part of VMAE’s commitment to the profession and to veterinary wellbeing, VMAE was thrilled in 2018 to be invited by AAVMC and AVMA to join them as co-lead organizations on the Veterinary Debt Initiative (VDI). VMAE has unique strengths and access that complement the other co-lead organizations.  To contribute to the initiative, VMAE must depend on its members to help in three key areas:
    • Communicating – VMAE is calling attendion to VDI communications via Peer to Peer News, and asking you to leverage that information by placing VDI items in as many of your VMA communication channels as possible.
    • Connecting – There will be times when VMAE will ask you to connect your members to elected officials or those in policy-making positions, because VMAs have grassroots connections and communications link that make advocacy more effective and more powerful. It might be advocating for funding for the VMLRP, or defending the PSLF program from being eliminated.  Activating your networks and utilizing your communications truly makes a difference in the effort.
    • Collecting – You’ll be hearing more from VMAE as we undertake an effort to collect real-world, grassroots examples of what works at the local level. For example:
      • What VMAs have initiated programs to heighten financial literacy, for all segments of membership, and what successes are they finding?
      • Where are there member stories that demonstrate the value of programs like PSLF and VMLRP that can be shared with other members as well as policy makers?
      • With examples of successful activities, programs and initiatives that you’re aware of then VMAE can loop back to the communicating and connecting aspects of our commitment.

The issue of veterinary debt is complex, and VMAE is pleased to be working side-by-side with AAVMC and AVMA to make progress.

  • VHMA partnership – Ralph announced that the VMAE board “has approved a new partnership with VHMA that aligns with our strategic objective around wellbeing of the profession. You’ll be hearing more about this and how to activate on the opportunities, but here are the key components:
    • Webinars – Another series of four webinars will be delivered in 2019, following the successful pilot in 2018 of the Financial Literacy series. VMAE members are able to offer the webinars to their association members at no charge.  The 2019 webinars will cover Value-based Pricing for Veterinary Practices and provide practical, actionable management tools to help improve practice performance.
    • Management-focused workshops – Two options are available to VMAs.  One option is to extend to your VMA members the VHMA-member price for the 6-hour program that is presented in 5-6 locations in North America; the 2019 topic is How to Improve Business Outcomes Through Workplace Wellbeing.  The other option is a turnkey opportunity to select one of the compelling workshop topics VHMA has developed, co-brand it with VHMA, and offer it to your members – with VHMA providing the tools and resources, event management if desired, and marketing materials for your use.
    • Complimentary membership – VHMA is extending complimentary membership to VMAE members who are interested in learning more about the VHMA and the products and services it offers to management professionals.
    • Speaker database – Many of VHMA’s almost 600 Certified Veterinary Practice Managers are well-regarded in the veterinary industry and lecture extensively on veterinary management topics.  This valuable network of CVPMs may be helpful to you as you seek to add management presentations to your educational programs or otherwise need expert content.  VHMA will provide VMAE members complimentary access to the CVPM Speaker Database for this purpose.
  • Collaboration – The value of partnership was underscored when Ralph stated that “the relationship between AVMA and VMAE has never been better – and the AVMA staff members who are in this room today deserve our thanks. Thank you, Dr. Donlin and the AVMA team, for the spirit of collaboration that is evident in your actions. VMAE is indeed appreciative.

“One very exciting aspect of our relationship may have caught your ear if you were in the HOD sessions this week, when it was noted that AVMA and VMAE are committed to working together in delivering LIFEskills content – think Power of 10 Version 2.0 – through the digital education platform that AVMA is launching.

“Both organizations recognize the necessity of LIFEskills content to the success of veterinary professionals. Both organizations have great ideas about how to obtain and deliver that content – thanks in part to the success of the LIFEskills Summit that VMAE convened in October. Both organizations know that by working together we can reach more audiences, engage more learners in self-development, fully leverage resources, and create the broadest impact to power the professional satisfaction and success of veterinary professionals.

“The real work of collaboration in this arena is just beginning, but it wouldn’t be possible at all without both organizations believing that we’re better together. It’s a most exciting adventure!”