Cultivating Professional Opportunities with SAVMA

June 27, 2022

The Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) chapter at the University of Arizona is devoted to developing students’ professional networks, advocating for their profession, and preparing them for success on the job. 

Three veterinary students hold a plaque and flag at a SAVMA event.

The University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine is home to a vibrant array of clubs that engage students’ interests and prepare them to be leaders in their profession. The Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) chapter is devoted to developing students’ professional networks, advocating for their profession, and preparing them for success on the job.  Directly linked to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), SAVMA connects over 17,000 students across the United States and provides the opportunity to take an active role in the future development of the profession and network with successful practitioners within veterinary medicine. Erica Conn, the chapter’s current president, shared, “My experience with it has been phenomenal. It’s opened a lot of doors, and I’ve gotten to meet tons of different people, different businesses, and even changed what career path [within veterinary medicine] I want to follow.”  

Four veterinary students stand together at SAVMA Symposium.

Membership is available to all veterinary students and offers substantial benefits both during their studies and as they embark on their careers as veterinarians. SAVMA members are eligible for benefits such as journal access, event and conference registration, financial and insurance benefits and automatic conversion to AVMA membership for students who graduate in good standing. Professional skills workshops, for example, are supplied for SAVMA members to sharpen skills they will rely on as they interact with clients and run businesses. Krislynn Rios, junior delegate for the chapter, shared some of the most important benefits members enjoy: 

“For us as a chapter, some of what we bring to the table is lectures, expenses paid, and camaraderie. We have travel grants, networking events, volunteer work, leadership development, and ample opportunities to get involved. We’re making the Class of 2025 aware [that if they join SAVMA], they can get their insurance, which covers their rabies vaccine. The [$50 membership fee per year] is considerably less than [the cost of the] rabies shot by itself. They [also provide] personal liability insurance and life insurance.” 

Membership also allows students to advocate for their profession on a national level. Instead of waiting until graduation to become involved, students can embrace advocacy now and connect with others to make veterinarians’ voices heard. Conn further emphasized the important role SAVMA members play at a chapter level for those who may not feel called to delegate at a national level,  

“If you're not going to advocate for your profession, who is? If you don't want to [take part at a national] level, you can still be involved in your chapter. Our delegates vote based on the wants of our entire chapter, so your voice can still be heard, and then if you want to also work through the AVMA or AZVMA, you can still work through those avenues as well.”  

Recently, Arizona’s members made their voices heard at the SAVMA Symposium. They voted to have SAVMA add its signature to the Gender Identity Bill of Rights, authored by the Pride Veterinary Medical Community (PrideVMC). In addition, Arizona’s delegates voted to update rubrics used for grants and scholarships awarded through SAVMA to be more holistic and reduce bias for all students. Additionally, our students’ political involvement included joining with other SAVMA and AVMA members to introduce two bills that will directly affect veterinary students. Rios shared,  

A crowd smiles for the camera at SAVMA Symposium.

“We worked with AVMA members within the political action committee. One of the bills was an enhancement to the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP). The other was about bringing dogs into the United States, making the importation laws more standardized and making sure that we are not bringing in zoonotic diseases or ones that can affect other dogs as well. [This] has a great impact even from a community health standpoint.”  

SAVMA members at the Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine recognize that as students in a young veterinary school, they are creating a community that will help students for years to come. Ana Gonzalez, the event coordinator for CVM’s SAVMA chapter, shared her hopes that future classes will continue to build SAVMA’s presence at Arizona, saying, “Their impact is not only for them individually, but for generations to come. I’m so proud of what we've done already and of the people who have helped with creating this chapter.” Believing that when students unite, they are strong, she added, “I just think that it really takes a larger group of people to be able to disperse the kind of information that we're trying to share.” SAVMA empowers students to do just that, allowing students’ voices to rise together and be heard on local and national levels. The leadership opportunities students encounter as members supply an arena for them to exercise the skills they are already developing in our Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program. Rios explained,  

“If you want to be involved in leadership, there are chances to get to know students from other schools and see what ideas are out there that you could bring back to our school as well as what ideas we have that we can let them know about. We were welcomed with very open arms. People are really excited about the way that our school is so different from all the other schools.”  

Our students engage with an innovative curriculum that continually looks toward the future of veterinary medicine. SAVMA’s opportunities for personal and professional development provide an outlet for students to anticipate the profession’s needs, advocate for the changes they want to see and act as groundbreaking leaders after they graduate and enter the veterinary medical profession. Follow SAVMA on Instagram or email the leadership team for more information or to get involved.