Wow! What a year it has been. I was told it would go fast but I never realized how quickly I would be joining the ranks of past presidents, a distinguished group of which I will be proud to become a part.

AAHA has had a great year. The list of highlights and accomplishments is too long for this blog, but I will reflect on some of our most notable observations and endeavors. As I traveled the country this past year (100,000+ air miles), I sensed a touch of optimism among practitioners. The recovery is slow, but they think the worst is over. It is actually Darwinian: It's not the strongest that survive and thrive but those who are willing to change and adapt.

Unfortunately, the worst is far from over for our veterinary students and recent graduates. This issue weighs heavily on my mind. The job market is still shrinking and compensation continues to drop. The debt-to-salary ratio is truly unsustainable and there will be casualties. Anyone with common sense can see we have an overabundance of companion animal practitioners and not one viable plan to deal with that issue has been put forward so far. AAHA is certainly doing what it can but the profession needs to do so much more.

This year I have given over 15 presentations at veterinary colleges. In the last two-and-a-half years, I have presented at 25 of the 28 U.S. schools, two Caribbean schools, and two Canadian schools--some multiple times. These are not medical/surgical lectures. They are on professionalism, practice success, finances, communication; all the skills needed to be a great practitioner and person. I will be presenting for the first time at the national Student AVMA (SAVMA) meeting at LSU. My goal has been to visit every single veterinary school at least once.

I attended the AVMA Leadership Workshop in Chicago, which is always a worthwhile learning and networking experience. I also met with leaders of the pet industry to discuss and make a long overdue difference on the issue of puppy mills. I presented at the National Veterinary Business Management Association (VBMA) and attended the North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC), and the Western Veterinary Conference (WVC). I also presented at the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) and Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) annual meetings. I met in Denver with an AAHA workgroup looking into offering a new associate success course. All in all, it's been a lot of presentations, meetings with our industry and professional partners, glad-handing, and spreading the AAHA "gospel."

I continue to keep in contact with our Specialty and Referral Task Force, and they have almost wrapped up their work. Our updated mentoring program and guidelines are about to be unveiled as well and I think they will change the professional lives of our new graduates and young associates. I chaired the Bylaws Revision Task Force and the proposed changes will be voted on this year. The recommended bylaws changes have stimulated some spirited conversations and we studied them and responded to the suggestions given.

This has been one of the most exciting, fun, and stimulating years of my career. I know we will be in good hands as the gavel is passed on to Dr. Kate Knutson. AAHA is one of the most credible organizations in our profession but we must always remember that "good" IS the enemy of "great" so we must continue to evolve and adapt. I am so proud of what AAHA does every day to better the lives of our practitioners and our pets. If there is a better purpose for an organization, I am not sure what it would be. Onward and upward!



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