Professional Veterinary Associations
December 1, 2018
Why Participate in a Professional Veterinary Association?
There are many benefits when you belong to and participate in a professional veterinary organization. These will vary depending on whether it’s at the local, state or national level.
For me personally, being an active member in multiple associations has elevated my networking and career opportunities. I am confident you, and even your veterinary team, will reap the benefits, too!
Benefits of Networking
Here are just a few of the top benefits for team members:
- Increase sphere of influence – spread your ideas
- Access to resources you might not otherwise have
- Opportunities to work with leaders within the profession
- Create professional relationships for advice exchange and creditable sounding boards
- Broader understanding of the industry
I first became an active participant in the state organizations through organizing continuing education with the Colorado Association of Certified Veterinary Technicians (CACVT) and the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). Then I moved into the national level and joined the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA).
As my sphere of influence grew, and my understanding of organized medicine expanded, I moved into additional roles in both CACVT (President) and NAVTA (various Executive Board positions and committee participation). By engaging in these associations, they opened up a variety of amazing opportunities in personal and professional growth and learning!
Through networking with veterinary leaders in CACVT, CVMA, NAVTA, and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) many doors have opened. Casual conversations turned into the creation of books, partnerships with industry leaders, and invitations to facilitate veterinary student orientations, just to name a few.
It’s been a magical ride. I must acknowledge the importance of networking within organized veterinary medicine on my career path and professional growth. You, too, can grow a network that offers support and helps you reach your highest potential.
I challenge you and your team members to stretch beyond your comfort zone and increase your sphere of influence! Sure, it may feel a bit awkward stepping into a room of complete strangers, but remember the veterinary community is a super group of individuals! I have experienced support and guidance within its folds, and am confident you will have a similar experience.
Tips in Networking
The following are 4 quick tips for networking that have proven advantageous for me over the years.
- Aim to assist others. The goal of networking is to build relationships and determine how you can help other people/organization achieve their goals. It sounds counter intuitive. Isn’t networking about wanting something? Not necessarily! When you approach networking with the aim of helping others succeed, it creates synergy / collaboration. This in turn will come back to you in ways you might not have originally foreseen. During your conversation, “Is there anything I can do for you?” should be the main focus.
- Observe, then engage. You can learn a lot by observing a group and watching the people. It’s perfectly fine to consciously take in the landscape and get a feel for it. Once you have “gotten your feet wet” and familiarized yourself with the territory, then begin interjecting and participating in the conversations. Silence and observation are powerful tools. Then, you are encouraged to take action!
- Take calculated risks. It’s good to step outside of your comfort zone! Find a veterinary association meeting where you don’t know the people or maybe even the topic. This might entail you driving a bit, maybe getting a hotel for the evening, eat dinner by yourself and attending the meeting in the morning. Changes are you will sit at a table with complete strangers. View it as an opportunity. After all, you will have something in common just by choosing to attend the same event. Through casual conversation find a commonality among the group. Ask open ended questions to keep the conversation flowing. Refer to tip #1.
- Dress professionally. When you attend gatherings, dress accordingly. You can never go wrong with business or business-casual attire. Feeling under dressed is uncomfortable and doesn’t convey a level of professionalism that you want to provide. Be courteous, polite, engaged, thoughtful, and participate appropriately in conversations. To be honest, I still get nervous when attending meetings where I will be called upon to respond or offer an opinion. It’s OK. Just keep everything in perspective. With each engagement, it will increase your confidence. You will be seen as a professional and as someone who contributes and makes a positive impact.
“Don’t waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour’s duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Organized Veterinary Medicine
Opportunities for networking within the veterinary community are LIMITLESS! Here is a geographical, bird’s eye view, of organized veterinary medicine (not a complete list as many specialties also have organizations).
- American Veterinary Medical Association avma.org
- National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America navta.net
- American Animal Hospital Association aaha.org
- American Association of Veterinary State Boards aavsb.org
- Veterinary Hospital Managers Association vhma.org
State (Colorado as an example) – “google” associations in your area
- Colorado Veterinary Medical Association colovma.org
- Colorado Association of Certified Veterinary Technicians cacvt.org
- Colorado Veterinary Medical State Board dora.colorado.gov/professions/veterinarians
- Colorado Veterinary Hospital Managers Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase, “It’s who you know.” Well, it’s ALSO who knows you! The benefits of engaging in networking, literally shaking hands and offering pats on the back, are immense!
Aspects of being “well-networked” include career advancement, leadership opportunities, contribution of your ideas, and being a positive driver within the veterinary community. Whether it’s your first time or you’re continuing on your journey, just participate in professional veterinary organizations!
Rebecca Rose, CVT