An example of convergent evolution has surfaced in the world of veterinary professional data-gathering. In 2014, the AVMA and we, your humble veterinary professional bloggers, independently designed similarly worded surveys for the purposes of gathering information about the state of the professionals who practice veterinary medicine- you. Well, us. Our goal: inform our profession of how professional decisions impact family life decisions, and vice versa.
A few questions occurred to us when we found out about the AVMA's survey: How did this convergent evolution occur? If there are two pathways to a similar end, do we really need both pathways? And how ought we choose between the two? To attempt an answer to these questions, let's get into a bit of background.
This blog is the property of Eden Myers, and she’ll tell you outright that she’s just a vet. I’ve contributed from time to time to JustVetData in the form of stand-alone pieces as well as to collaborative efforts with Eden. The same could be said of me: I’m just a veterinarian. I’m not board certified, I don’t have advanced training. Neither of us are on anyone's payroll.
You know who we are; you know what we look like, you've got our e-mails and phone numbers, many of you talk to us on a daily basis on social media as well as privately... but at the end of the day, we’re small fish in a big ocean.
We are, however, big thinkers. We do, in fact, have ideas that can help the profession. We've published a few pieces in a couple of places. Recently, dvm360 picked up a survey we wrote and deployed it to their readership. We were thrilled to have their involvement in distribution, and a number of state and specialty professional organizations pitched in and sent it to their members. Initial results go to press in May- stay tuned.
Eden and I wrote the dvm360-distributed survey by ourselves, for free. We asked our friends, classmates, bosses and employees to test it out for us, send us comments about it, and provide us with feedback for improvement. We listened to their feedback, and we took the survey, too. I can only conclude that dvm360 chose to distribute our survey because they believed in its quality and that it could be of benefit to their readers. Of benefit to you.
Once dvm360 has published their analysis in May (to which we are given an opportunity to contribute), Eden and I will be free to share greater detail and information that emerged from the metadata, present further analysis, and discuss interpretations.
Which we’ll do on a free, freely accessible blog. Not behind a firewall. Not behind a paywall. You'll be able to get to a copy of the survey (and all the results we can share without compromising respondents' anonymity) from multiple websites, and from Facebook and Twitter. One result we can share right now- our responses were evenly distributed by geography, age, time since graduation, school and gender. This is going to be good stuff.
Now consider what you AVMA members are getting for the money you paid AVMA to do their survey.
Constructed at significant expense? We don’t really know who designed their survey. Perhaps non-veterinary professionals, perhaps tested on select groups. Perhaps made up by AVMA staff, who thought they had come up with a totally original set of questions. We don't know, and you never will.
AVMA membership dues are now $300, and dollars are tight these days. Practice owners' expenses are rising even as the prices we charge clients drops as we try to maintain access for our clients. Paying dues for themselves and their associates is a noticeable, significant expense for practice owners. Those associates whose dues are not covered by their employer also know the impact of association dues on their personal bottom lines, but maybe not their professional outcomes.
We are all looking for value. With our associations, we want to know that they are spending the dollars collected from us as thriftily and wisely as possible. The AVMA is spending your money to design and interpret surveys without your input.
How’s that workin’ out for you?