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2021/2022 CVMA President’s Message - Collegiality, Cooperation, and Collaboration

August 27, 2021

Greetings from your new (2021–2022) CVMA President. As an introduction, please allow me to share a little about myself and my experiences since graduating from the Ontario Veterinary College in 1987. I have been fortunate enough to work in Ontario, Alberta, and internationally, with horses, cattle, and swine in large animal practice, small ruminants in applied research, “companion animals” including reptiles and small mammals in small animal practice, and an eclectic group of “other” interesting species here and there. I have also taught and mentored veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians (RVTs).

There have been so many changes over the last 35 years — changes in medicine, surgery, drugs, regulations, societal expectations, and financial considerations of veterinary practice — too many to mention here! One thing I have learned is that in each sphere of veterinary practice there are always a variety of individuals who contribute to nearly every aspect of work. I am constantly amazed at the level of commitment and expertise of so many in our profession, from subject experts to those with specialized training to excellent educators and others gifted with amazing insights and/or depth of experience. This includes a tremendous number of CVMA volunteers who serve on the CVMA Council, committees, working groups, and in other volunteer capacities.

Each one of us in the veterinary profession, veterinarians and RVTs alike, have much to offer (and much to learn). It seems we tend to short-change ourselves in valuation of what we offer the public. As Thomas Fuller stated, “All things are difficult before they are easy.” Tasks that seem easy to some due to experience are unbelievably valuable skills to someone else in need of them. This is as true for a specialist applying advanced skills and knowledge to a patient as it is for a general practitioner putting together scientific, research, market, and regulatory information to design a practical herd health program in a specific area of food animal production. In companion animal practice this includes obtaining (sometimes conflicting) advice from several experts and researchers to recommend and undertake the best course of action for a client’s much-loved pet, while taking family and living arrangements, ethical viewpoints, and financial constraints into consideration. Furthermore, all done with deep respect for animal and human lives.

A variety of opportunities afforded by the veterinary profession have allowed me to participate in many facets of veterinary work at home and abroad, making me somewhat of a “jack of all trades.” In part that is due to the year of my graduation and the state of veterinary practice at that time. It is also due to the career choices I have been able to make. In each of my own veterinary endeavors (food producing, companion animal, and educational) I have heavily relied on the advice and expertise of others. There have been numerous occasions during my career in which I was able to learn something new from a colleague.

It is humbling to see the advanced skills and knowledge of many veterinarians. As specialization expands within our profession, we need to rely on each other for collaboration more and more. Along with my admiration of the abilities, understanding, and knowledge of my colleagues comes the thought that general veterinary practice itself (whether companion or food producing) is indeed a speciality. Perhaps that is a commentary on streaming in our veterinary education and licensing — if so, that is a topic for another day. It is an honor for me to represent Canadian veterinarians as CVMA President this year; my intention is to represent the voice of veterinarians across the country with dignity and respect. Given the divergent views and foci of many of us, I certainly do not expect we will all think alike — that would be boring (and very un-veterinary like!). It is my sincere hope that the CVMA’s roles in national and international representations, promotion of animal welfare, and support of the profession will become more appreciated and valued by veterinarians across our country. By treating each person and animal with the respect that all life deserves, and remembering we are each a part of a whole that is more integrated than we usually realize, the CVMA aims to amplify our national veterinary voice so that it is even more widely respected and heard. I hope this year we all find our collegiality, cooperation, and collaboration enhanced as we seek to serve and protect our society by caring for animals and the people who love and use them (in person, preferably). I welcome your feedback, suggestions, and advice.

- Louis Kwantes