Are You Ready for Change?
That was the message that I delivered to the board of directors in my welcome to Iowa message to the AABP Board of Directors for our Spring meeting. Of course, I was actually referring to Iowa’s weather, which par for the usual course, went from mid 60’s on Wednesday to tornado warnings on Saturday afternoon, and cold and snowy on Sunday. In this message, I’d like to share some of the highlights from our meeting.
For the first time since the Spring 2020 board meeting, the entire board, minus one due to illness, was able to assemble in the same room, which made for a very productive meeting. Simultaneously in the same hotel was one of AABP’s Manage Your Rural Practice for Success Workshops. This allowed the board members to interact with the workshop attendees and lurk in the back of the practice management room if they wanted. Funded through a USDA grant, these two-year workshops are free to attend for veterinarians who have graduated since 2012. Based on the success of previous workshops and requests from membership, the Veterinary Practice Sustainability committee submitted a proposal to hold a workshop for practitioners who have been out of school longer than ten years. This was approved, with the first one tentatively planned for October of this year. Look for the announcement on how to register later in this newsletter.
AABP’s mission is fulfilled through the efforts of its volunteers, and I want to thank all of you for your contributions to committees and task forces over the last six months. It was very rewarding to hear all the activity that you’ve accomplished since the last annual meeting. As most of you know, mental health amongst our profession is a major concern. To help address this issue, the Mental Health Task Force was formed to develop resources for our membership. One of their early achievements was an association with the Veterinary Hope Foundation (VHF), a group with a mission towards supporting mental health through small group counseling sessions for veterinary professionals. These groups provide resources, information, and community to better handle the unique stressors of our profession. To support their efforts, the Mental Health Task Force asked the board to support VHF financially. The board stepped up and committed $12,500 to VHF. The money has been placed in an AABP Foundation account, with an ask to our membership to at least match the board’s contribution to VHF through individual donations through the AABP Foundation. If you would like to contribute to this important cause, you may do soby contributing directly to the AABP Foundation and specifying that it goes towards the mental health fund at http://aabp.org/foundation/donate.asp
The board also selected the slate for this Fall’s Vice- Presidential election. First of all, thank you to all who agreed to have your nomination considered this year. We had a large pool of excellent candidates, making it a challenge for the Nominations Committee to pare it down. Through their work, the committee submitted the names of, and the board approved, Dr. Jessica Gernhard and Dr. Callie Willingham to the ballot. Look for more information from them throughout the summer and at the annual meeting. Congratulations and good luck to both of you!
One of the biggest topics of discussion at every Spring BOD meeting is the organization’s budget. Due to the work of prior board members, AABP has a solid financial policy which requires the holding of reserve funds in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as pandemics and social uprising. Due to this foresight, the organization has been able to come through these last two years in a good financial position but with the current economic downturn in the US, maintaining this financial standing is going to continue to be challenging. Given the current economic environment, and the uncertainty of conference attendance in the future, the board decided to implement a dues increase for this upcoming year to $225. I understand that this is likely not popular, but AABP is by far the cheapest professional organization that I belong to, especially considering all the benefits of membership.
Year over year, the biggest financial risk that AABP undertakes are our in-person meetings, especially the Annual Meeting. To get decent booking rates, AABP is required to enter into contractual obligations several years in advance. Therefore, we are currently working on conference contracts that were made prior to the pandemic. In these contracts, we must guarantee a specified number of hotel room stays in conference hotels to get good prices on other conference amenities. If we fall short on these rooms, we suffer a large penalty. Another large expense that we’ve inherited over the last two years is offering virtual attendance. In Long Beach in 2022, it is estimated that will cost approximately $250,000. After much discussion, the board voted to not offer a virtual option this year to save money and not take the risk of hotel room attrition. I apologize for the inconvenience that this might cause, but when we weighed everything, the board didn’t feel the virtual option outweighed the financial risk it creates. However, conference sessions will still be recorded and available on the BCI website after the conference as in previous years.
As always, I’d appreciate to hear your thoughts about AABP. Thank you and stay safe!
Dr. Pat Gorden