As the current MVMA President, I could not be more honored to serve both our members and the Michigan veterinary community in this capacity. Over the years, this profession, my leadership roles within the MVMA and fellow members have been a great source of happiness and fulfillment in my life. This has continuously fueled my desire to serve and give back in a multitude of ways. In my new role, I look forward to the evolution of the MVMA as we strategically enhance our offerings to match the needs of our profession. Beyond working to improve our CME, conferences, communications and member resources, my tenure will include an emphasis on health and wellness for veterinarians and their staff members. As a veterinarian and practice owner, I have faced personal and professional challenges that have led me to reframe my chosen career path on a continuous basis. This fluidity, along with the camaraderie of fellow veterinarians in the Jackson community, have been the driving forces in my ability to thrive in a world where we have a significant risk of burnout, compassion fatigue, depression, and suicide. As a leader in the organization, I care deeply about our profession and those who serve in it.
I joined the MVMA Board of Directors in 2009 as the District 4 Representative when Dr. Susan Sayles vacated the role to join the Executive Committee. I have had the honor and the privilege of serving alongside some of the best mentors who exist in our profession. This opportunity has provided me with the education and tools necessary to serve on a board and to implement effective governance. In addition, my committee work with the Legislative Advisory Committee led to an interest in our legislative presence and I was appointed to the Prescription Drug and Opiate Abuse Task Force Workgroup under Gov. Rick Snyder.
Giving back to my local community is also close to my heart. A group of local veterinarians and I noted a distinct lack of access to care for cats in need of sterilization and for pets in need of medical care. The chief barrier was limited finances, which was followed by a lack of information and education. To address this need in our community, a nonprofit was created, the Barkley and LuLu Foundation. This 501(c)3 was created to oversee the Jackson Cat Project, as well as provide financial assistance to Jackson residents who have injured or ill pets in need of veterinary care.
Our profession is a diverse and multifaceted one; I am amazed at the changes over the past 20 years. As a new graduate, I worked in private practice and was scheduled five days per week plus 24-hour emergency duty after hours, and it was exhausting at times. Today’s veterinary school graduates have more options in terms of how they choose to develop their careers. The concept of balancing your work responsibilities with the essential daily activities that encourage resilience and mental fitness has evolved and emerged at the forefront of veterinary medicine, and I will continue to support this movement wholeheartedly.
As your leader, my duty is to provide a listening ear and to gain awareness of the challenges faced by our MVMA members. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to simply make an introduction or to discuss questions or concerns.