President’s Message

2016 IVMA President Dr. James Stepusin
James Stepusin pic

As the year comes to a close and we enter 2017 with some mild weather (what happened to the arctic blast?), I figured what better time to reflect back on what we accomplished in 2016.  And honestly, I think we accomplished a lot!

A big focus for Member Services was looking at our governance structure.  We convened a task force to look at the structure of our board, committees, and districts to determine if we still had the best functionality as currently constructed.  The 10 members of this task force, chaired by Dr. Tony Rumschlag, met multiple times through the year and discussed the positives and negatives around our current structure and a totally new approach to the IVMA’s board.  The task force produced recommendations that were distributed the Executive Committee and a selection of former IVMA presidents for comment.  In January, the final recommendations will be presented to the board and if approved, the IVMA board will have a 21st century look and feel, while continuing to allow for good geographic and species representation.  The new structure will make it easier for the IVMA to include a rising group of new volunteers but will maintain the continuity of seasoned veterans.  All in all, it will ultimately make the IVMA more nimble and more able to provide the value we expect as members.

The board wasn’t the only thing we looked to change as this summer we welcomed Lourdes Syndram to the newly approved full-time position of IVMA Membership Services Director!  Lourdes has been working with the IVMA for many years and has shown her value countless times, but until August 15, 2016, it was in a part-time position.  With 2 full-time employees for the first time ever, the IVMA is poised to provide even more value to its constituents going forward.  Lourdes will look to help add to our membership numbers while helping increase our offerings to current members, and Lisa will have more time to dedicate her immense talents to all things IVMA!

One of the areas that Lisa has concentrated on in the past has been the IVMA’s Power of 10 Leadership Program.  This year was no different as we had a full class and a wait list for future classes.  This program continues to provide huge value to each participant as well as introduce them to all that the IVMA does through the year. Further, thanks to a grant from the Larry Borst Leadership Fund through the IN Animal Health Foundation, P10 participants will be attending the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference in Chicago in early January. We will be the only state veterinary medicine association in the country to do this.  (Sadly, Dr. Borst passed away in late December.  His endowment is a tremendous legacy for IVMA to continue to develop talented leaders for the profession.)   Luckily for the IVMA, many of these talented participants elect to stay involved in many different ways, helping to strengthen our volunteer force.  Additionally, the board discussed the potential to provide another type of Power of 10 Program for mid-career veterinarians.  We surveyed members in this demographic to get feedback so stay tuned for what this program may offer.

As with many years, we saw new faces come on board but we also saw some familiar faces end their commitments to the IVMA.  At the AVMA Annual Conference in San Antonio this August Dr. Schnarr ended his run as Delegate.  But before he officially walked off into the sunset, he provided a great announcement of Indianapolis as the official host for the 2017 AVMA Annual Conference. I can think of no better honor to highlight your contributions as Delegate and Alternate Delegate over the past 11 years than to introduce the IVMA and our fair city to the AVMA.  Thank you again for all your hard work through the years – which included so much more than those 11 years.

One of the topics discussed at the AVMA Annual Conference was student debt.  The AVMA convened a summit in the spring on this very topic hoping to generate awareness and ideas on how to address this important topic.  The IVMA was involved in both meetings and brought back ideas of our own.  This summer, we formed a task force to determine what the IVMA can provide on this subject and the task force will present their recommendations at the January board meeting.

While student debt is an issue with no easy fix, at least from the state level, the IVMA can have a significant impact on a number of issues that come across the floor in the State House.  With our collective voice, we can adeptly address bills that may affect our practice act.  Also, this year we received some excellent data on the health of our profession within Indiana with the joint AVMA-IVMA report titled “The Importance of Veterinary Medicine to the Indiana Economy.”  This report can help us in discussions with state legislators and provides insight into the health of the profession in Indiana.  Not many people realize this, but the IVMA is the only state organization to have this kind of data – again highlighting the value provided by the IVMA!

The board also supported promoting the national “Ready. Set. Go!” forward booking campaign that is being rolled out in over 45 veterinary medical associations throughout the country as of January 1, 2017. This is a tremendous offering to our IVMA members in practice – the point is to book your client’s next appointment before they leave your office.  This will improve the health of the patient and the health of your practice. Learn more at or call Lisa in the IVMA office to discuss in person.

And if all of this wasn’t enough, the IVMA continues to provide excellent continuing education opportunities – from destination CE at French Lick, to CE at the State Fair, to CE offerings at our Annual Meeting.  The upcoming meeting will be held March 2 – 5, 2017 – later in the year due to schedule conflicts with the North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando, FL.  With a new date, the Annual Meeting Committee felt it was a perfect time to look at other changes that would add more value to this meeting.  One item was changing the Membership Luncheon on Saturday afternoon to a Membership Reception on Friday evening, still complete with the awards, officer installations, and remarks but now culminating with a live band.  Additionally, we’ve adjusted break times, added early morning breakfast sessions, and also decided to forgo a general session speaker – all to allow for even more CE hours.  This year you can get up to 30 hours of CE at the meeting!  We’ve got a great lineup of speakers so don’t forget to register by February 16, 2017 for the best rates.  We hope to see you there.

As you can see, 2016 was filled with change – but change looking to make the IVMA better and provide more value to its members.  Hopefully you can see that and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2017.

I thank you for the opportunity to serve as IVMA president.  It has been an honor.