Using Expert Exam Room Skills to Impact Your Community

Using Expert Exam Room Skills to Impact Your Community

Dr. Keri Riddick On Advocacy:

Dr. Keri Riddick, Co-chair GVMA Advocacy Committee

How has the GVMA changed how we do advocacy over the past few years?
The GVMA is focused on advocating for issues that are important to our members. This year we have sent out a survey called the “RAP Index” that helps us identify the issues that most matter to GVMA members and also where our political relationships lie within our membership. Already we have learned through preliminary poll results that our members overwhelmingly support the Veterinary Nurse Initiative, which is helpful as we engage in the national conversation. The GVMA is partnering with more organizations that also impact animal welfare. Working to build strong relationships with the Georgia Department of Agriculture, Agribusiness Council and the Cattleman’s Association will only continue to help the GVMA’s positions when we enter the political ring.

What issues is the GVMA currently tackling?
Mental health and wellness is a top priority of the GVMA. The Physician Health Program (PHP) started from veterinarians identifying a need and bringing it to the GVMA. We see ourselves as being on the “frontlines” for Georgia veterinarians and are pursuing legislation so that veterinarians can receive the same mental health and substance abuse assistance as our physician counterparts.
License renewal We recognize that license renewal has been complicated and this is a topic that we are bringing to light through the political process. I believe we can all agree that modernization of this process is necessary, however, reaching the individuals who pull the levers on this is more challenging than initially thought.
CBD We are also researching options for legally being able to have discussions (not recommending or dispensing) about CBD products with clients. This is a nationwide concern for veterinarians and the GVMA is willing “to put energy into by appointing a Board Task Force to look into easing regulations here in Georgia.”

What can an individual veterinarian do to make a difference in their community?

  1. identify what needs your community has.
  2. try to learn as much as possible on the subject, research the pros and cons and research the opposite opinion as well.
  3. reach out to your local, state, or even federal representatives. You can connect with them thru email, phone calls, or in person appointments.
    Remember “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” so be patient, persistent, and in it for the long haul. This is your career and this is your community so make your voice known.

How can veterinarian’s exam room skills be an asset in advocacy?
Veterinarians are AMAZING communicators. Much better than we give ourselves credit for. Every day whether in the field, the research lab, the classroom or the exam room we are:
• Researching a problem (physical examination and diagnostics on the animal)
• Explaining why the problem is important and what the future impact is (Discussion with the owner)
• Presenting a solution (Your Treatment Plan) We evaluate problems and find solutions to help patients who can’t speak for themselves. Our clients can come broad socio-economic backgrounds and we have to explain why an issue is important and its current and future impact. The same strategy we use to make an argument for why dental health is important can be applied to advocacy.

How can recent grads get involved?
Our professionals that are continuing to enter into veterinary medicine may have family and/or friend ties to politicians. Sharing those relationships with us can be valuable down the road. Also, we welcome recent graduates to join the Advocacy Committee and be willing to email or message congressman as issues come up and we need a broad band of people to help make noise. We need your opinions on the issues that affect you. We can work now to make changes so the profession is where they want it in the 10 or 20 years.

Dr. Keri Riddick, Co-chair of the GVMA Advocacy Committee

Dr. Keri Riddick is co-chair of the GVMA Advocacy Committee and GVMA past president. She owns Benning Animal Hospital in Columbus, GA with her husband Don. If youare interested in participating in the GVMA’s Advocacy Work please contact us at or at (678) 309-9800. co-chair of GVMA Advocacy Committee, with Dr. Vince Obsitnik, and GVMA Past President.