Like all organizations and people right now, the ACVIM is going through a period of change. We are no longer a small organization where each Diplomate personally knows or knows of all of the others. While this is a normal part of our organizational growth trajectory, the lack of shared history and personal relationships are making it harder for each of us to assume positive intent by others, especially when controversial issues sweeping through society show up on our ACVIM360 communities. It is a reminder of the importance of truly listening to other perspectives, respectfully and with an open mind. I’ll be the first to admit that it feels harder to do so right now than ever yet is even more critical than ever if we are to avoid fracturing our organization into factions.
One factor that drives behaviors in these volatile times is the anxiety many people associate with change. Even those of us who embrace change as an opportunity for innovation become fatigued as change overwhelms our sense of security that had been based on a known foundation. In the coming months you will receive invitations to specialty-specific and college-wide town hall meetings, in which we will be focused on listening to you, providing you an opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts without listening to a pre-planned presentation. Two weeks ago was the first of these, with the large animal internal medicine group sharing some of the big challenges they face that are unique to the equine internists.
Within the ACVIM we have a lot to appreciate right now: our organization is evolving in a way that ensures a solid foundation for the future. As Diplomates, we have the scientific knowledge to sort through the massive amount of information and disinformation available. We have the opportunity to help our clients through difficult decisions in a time where that support is critical, and we have the camaraderie that our group has traditionally shared. The latter feels most precious to me, and it is my hope that as a community, we can focus more on our commonalities than our differences.
The pandemic has provided the ACVIM a unique opportunity to guide the positive change that we have needed for some time. Innovation is not necessarily something we associate with a professional organization like ours yet is exactly what is needed at this phase of our growth. The pandemic has forced changes to be more rapid than planned and has helped us think ab out old challenges in new ways. This is an exciting opportunity that has brought us a virtual option for our educational offerings, allowing us to increase access to our top-notch quality content. It has accelerated the transition to virtual examinations, saving our candidates thousands of dollars and lowering the stress associated with travel and having to test in an unfamiliar setting.
While the changes associated with forces beyond our control have not all been smooth, they have moved our organization a big step forward. Now comes the truly hard part of fine-tuning the new processes and working through the pain points to get to a new sense of normalcy. It is my most sincere hope that we will arrive in a place where our organization is strengthened by a sense of connection and appreciation for the Diplomates from all six specialties. While I am an oncologist, I genuinely appreciate the feeling of belonging to a larger group of people who have different specialties and perspectives yet share the common bond of having achieved board-certification through our college.
Linda Fineman, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology)
Chief Executive Officer, ACVIM