It’s time to make a confession. For a pathologist, who would ordinarily use reason and logic to construct a pathogenesis, I’m a remarkably superstitious person. I freely admit this, because otherwise my beloved will state it for me and I’m all about carefully chosen self-declarations. My guilty conscious forces me to acknowledge my role in what has been the most unusual year for all of us.
All of the changes in this year…the lack of our Annual Meeting, cancellation of graduation, postponement of the White Coat Ceremony, disruption of meat processing, months of curbside check-in, uncertainty of how to restart school, and now an unprecedented inland hurricane that destroyed crops, trees, home and dislocated clinical services for a week or more…it was because of me. I didn’t mean to, but…it was me. How? Because I brought this upon us all by being sworn in as President on Friday, Sept. 13th last year. I nervously laughed it off then—what medical professional really puts that much stock in superstition? In retrospect…maybe if I’d requested a revision to last year’s meeting schedule, I could have prevented the dreadful events of 2020. Coincidence, you say? Perhaps, and you’re kind for saying so. But connections add up (especially on long sleepless nights), starting with the Cyclone loss to Iowa by one point on Sept. 14th and hopefully ending with last Monday’s derecho that brought carnage upon power lines, houses, and all vegetation across the state. I’m not usually one to seek credit, but I feel that the responsible action (some might say desperate or even capricious action) is to assign term-limits to this string of wretched events, so that we have an end point with which to see better days ahead.
This is not how I thought I’d sign off on a year of being the IVMA President. I was raised to leave any place or situation better than I’d found it. The good news is that our incoming president, Dr. Jim Berger, will be sworn in a day early at our rescheduled Executive Board meeting on September 10th, in lieu of our normal officer installation during the now-cancelled Annual Meeting. I have complete confidence that Dr. Berger will be an outstanding president and that he’ll undo the curse I unwittingly brought upon our state.
Despite the weirdness of 2020, the IVMA had many successes. There is much to be grateful for, despite the chaos. This is a testament to the strength of the executive office, your executive board directors, the IVMA lobbyists, and our membership. I am especially grateful for the legislative successes this year, particularly given the uncertainty of how the legislative season would conclude. The Mistreatment of Companion Animals bill was passed. The Rural Iowa Veterinary Loan Repayment Program was signed into law AND funded. We have an amazing executive office, which persevered through all that 2020 shelled out, and then some. Membership continues to grow for the IVMA, which helps our state network of veterinary workers stay connected. Although no one wanted to see the Annual Meeting be cancelled, it provides the opportunity to find new ways of providing CE and social connection. My hope is that in 25 years, the IVMA membership continues to expand and that we become leaders in providing context to fellow veterinarians, in whatever format exists at that time. I look forward to seeing growth of the I-Vet PAC, in order to support future legislative endeavors that impact veterinary medicine in Iowa. Similarly, I look forward to sustained growth of the IVMA Foundation, which provides much needed scholarships to veterinary students.
I cannot sign off with sharing my gratitude for all that my family did to make this year go more smoothly. Thank you to my children, who were patient with their mother and developed greater resiliency and self-discipline than I had at their ages. I appreciate that my parents drove their grandchildren around town, at least until COVID put a stop to that. And lastly, my beloved classmate-turned-husband, Bill Williams, took care of pretty much everything this year, on top of his own clinical responsibilities. And an enormous thank you goes to the IVMA past presidents, who provided excellent examples and advice.
Thank you to all who have pitched in to help our colleagues affected by the state-wide storm damage that occurred on Aug. 10th. As I write this, there are multiple clinics in Cedar Rapids that are just beginning to partially re-open; parts of Ames are still without power, and I suspect we’ve yet to really hear the full damage report due to power outages and loss of internet. I’m ready to come help clean up or help, just let me know where and when.
And seriously, let’s amend the by-laws to avoid swearing in officers on a Friday the 13th. Just kidding. Sort of.
All my best, and thank you for the privilege of being your president.