New Leadership at the AVMA
Schaumburg, Illinois — The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) selected a new President and President-Elect at their 2019 annual convention in Washington, D.C. Dr. John Howe of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, began his term as president and Dr. Douglas Kratt of La Crosse, Wisconsin, was selected as president-elect, officially beginning his term during the AVMA 2020 Convention, which will take place in San Diego from July 31–August 4.
As he assumes his role as president, Dr. Howe is prioritizing communication within the profession and to the general public.
“Of course, our members’ needs come first,” said Dr. Howe. “The personal and professional health and wellbeing of the entire veterinary team during all stages of their careers is of primary concern. We have tools that enable you to develop a wellbeing plan for your entire team, a 24/7 cyberbullying hotline and economic tools to improve your practice’s bottom line and so much more.”
Veterinary technicians are a key area of focus for Dr. Howe. He supports the recent approval of a task force charged with examining the utilization of veterinary technicians, their financial and career sustainability, effective task delegation, and the wellbeing of both veterinary technicians and the practice.
“I have witnessed firsthand the importance of veterinary technicians and the key role they play in preserving animal health and welfare in every aspect of veterinary medicine,” Dr. Howe said. “Our profession would not be what it is today without the support of veterinary technicians.”
Veterinarians and veterinary technicians work hand in hand with other health professions to improve the health and welfare of people, animals and the environment. During his term, Dr. Howe wants to raise awareness of this collaborative approach—known as One Health—among fellow health care professionals and the general public.
“In my conversations with physicians, I find they are always amazed at our diagnostic capabilities and how ahead of the game we are on issues like tickborne illnesses. We need to retain our leadership role in the One Health arena promoting the health of all species and the environment,” Dr. Howe said.
In that same vein, Dr. Howe wants to see the general’s star restored to the chief of the U.S. Veterinary Corps. A change in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 allowed an officer of lesser rank to be appointed corps chief, rather than the traditional rank of brigadier general. Dr. Howe believes the change back to brigadier general will provide the authority and status needed to carry out missions.
Dr. Howe has been an active leader in the veterinary profession for more than 30 years at the state and national level. He represented veterinarians living in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota as the District VII representative on the AVMA Board of Directors.
During his tenure on the AVMA Board, Dr. Howe chaired AVMA’s State Advocacy Committee and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and served as AVMA Board liaison to several AVMA councils and committees. He has also served as vice chair of the AVMA Council on Veterinary Services and the Governance Performance Review Committee, and as a fill-in delegate or alternate delegate from Minnesota on the AVMA House of Delegates.
At the state level, Dr. Howe has served as executive board member, vice president and president of the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association. He received the group’s Veterinarian of the Year award in 2011 and Distinguished Veterinary Service award in 2015. Dr. Howe is also a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the World Aquatic Veterinary Medicine Association and the American Association of Fish Veterinarians.
Dr. Howe is a 1977 graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and began his career by starting a solo mixed-animal practice in North Branch, Minnesota. He then sold the practice and moved to Grand Rapids, Minnesota, where he established North Country Equine and Large Animal Medical Center. This practice evolved into North Country Veterinary Clinic, a five-doctor mixed-animal practice treating large and small animals, birds, exotics, cervidae, aquaculture and some large cats. North Country Veterinary Clinic became part of National Veterinary Associates in 2007. Dr. Howe retired from practice in December 2017.
Meanwhile, Dr. Kratt is a small animal practitioner from La Crosse, Wisconsin, where he is currently president of the Central Animal Hospital. His medical interests include surgery, nutrition, and wellness care and prevention.
During his campaign, Dr. Kratt emphasized vision, collaboration and innovation. “What is my agenda when I become president? I don’t have an agenda,” said Dr. Kratt. “A leader listens to the members and follows the strategic plan of the organization and does not push a personal agenda; they are a steward of the organization. A leader may assist in the big vision of the design, but they also play one of the Lego blocks in that design.”
Prior to his election, he served as Wisconsin’s delegate in the AVMA House of Delegates and president of the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association. He has also served on AVMA’s House Advisory Committee, Strategic Management Committee and Task Force on Volunteer Engagement. Additionally, Dr. Kratt is graduate of the 2012-2013 AVMA Future Leaders program.
Dr. Kratt is a 1998 graduate of the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.