Submitted by Tamara McLoughlin, RVT, SAVT President-Elect (for another two weeks)
I don’t know about you but I’m tired of hearing that the SVMA has “the right” to set a fee for us and to be in charge of our registration because they are “our regulatory body.” I’m tired of having licensing seminars thrown at us, and now a $40 fee on top of it?! What gives? Personally, if I’m going to pay $40 a year to the SVMA, I want to know what I’m getting for that fee.
As the incoming President of SAVT, I’d like to give you some more insight into those statements. This year, I had the opportunity to get more of a first-hand look at what I myself previously viewed as a hostile takeover by the SVMA.
In our profession and our association, historically change has taken years and we have always been in a positon where we’ve had to fight long, hard battles to work towards our goals. In the last 2 years there have been more changes to the SAVT’s relationship with the SVMA than we have ever experienced before and that can be really overwhelming.
My recommendation is to not only focus on the details, the licensing seminar, the fee, etc. but to really look at the big picture, at the advancements in our association and profession as a whole. Around 8 years ago, as SAVT President I met with the new registrar, Dr. Judy Currie, to determine if the SVMA would be willing to present an award at our conference; and I tell you, it was nerve wracking and so exciting to be “granted” a meeting with the SVMA Registrar. At that point we had very little contact with the SVMA office. We were supposed to have an SVMA liaison position on our board, but for years it was never consistently filled by a DVM because they never had time for us. At the same time, I was still explaining to the general public what a vet tech even was and constantly feeling like I needed to justify my position in the veterinary-medicine hierarchy.
Fast forward to now where I actually find it very rare when I have to explain to someone off the street what my profession is. I feel like we have progressed a great deal on being viewed as a recognized and valued part of the veterinary team and now the SAVT and SVMA office representatives talk on a daily basis!
This is where I go back to the big picture. The SAVT Mission is to Promote and Advance RVTs; the SAVT vision is Professionalism and Excellence in Animal Care. This is what we wanted. For SVMA/DVMs to take us seriously, for the public to know who we are and what we do, and for this to therefore increase our wages and improve our jobs (and while there are still strides to be made there let’s not open that can of worms on this post), we have come SO FAR in a relatively short amount of time. In the grand scheme of things a collaboration with the SVMA will only increase our opportunities to keep pushing forward with our mission and vision.
As someone who does pay their own fees and who does not work in a vet clinic, believe me, I understand how people feel like we’re just getting stuff piled on top of us—green forms and licensing seminars—and it is hard to see but these are actually ways in which the SVMA is trying to help us take pride in our registered status and to know what that means and what it entails. The SAVT and SVMA offices are working diligently together to streamline and refine this process over the next couple years. Which brings me back to what the $40 fee is for.
We now have a VOTING RVT council member representing all RVTs on the SVMA council. We have an SAVT/SVMA liaison that speaks at every meeting on the SAVT’s behalf. These two people were instrumental in ensuring that the SVMA fee was a reasonable and affordable rate and they will continue to advocate for us to keep it that way. We have access to all of the same CE that the DVMs do, we are invited to the SVMA conference for the same CE but at a reduced rate, we have access to a wellness plan, to health benefits, and to all SVMA opportunities because we are full-fledged SVMA members. The SVMA is now coming to us instead of the other way around, but we still seem to have an “Us vs. Them” mentality where it feels like we only have two options: Option A, be the SAVT, keep everything the same; or Option B, get overtaken by the SVMA. There is a third option, and in my opinion it’s the only option: to cooperate and to collaborate as colleagues while still maintaining our identity as distinct professions and to present a unified front as a veterinary team, both inside and outside the veterinary clinic.
This is not a perfect system, and it won’t be for some time. Do both associations still have areas to improve on regarding communication and presentation to our members? Absolutely. Are there going to be growing pains? Most likely. Which is where I remind you how important it is to have good board members working on your behalf. You have to be able to trust that the decisions we’re making are keeping in line with the SAVT’s Mission and Vision statements. This is utmost in my mind, and I’m sure on every board member’s mind, every time we’re at a board meeting, or when someone from the public asks us a question or when we’re out there representing the SAVT and our ever-evolving profession.
In this time of big changes we need strong leaders/advocates on the SAVT board and if you feel like this is something that you want to be a part of, I strongly encourage you to come to the AGM and put your name forward.
In the meantime, we want to hear from you! If you have any questions, comments, concerns, please let’s hear them. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org; Breanne, our current president, is at email@example.com; or Jasmin (our Executive Director) is at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach out to us on the Facebook groups “SAVT Member Communication” or “Saskatchewan Association of Veterinary Technologists” or in person at the conference. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at the AGM in a couple of weeks!