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Western michigan veterinary medical association

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Effective January 1, 2018, the West Michigan Academy of Small Animal Practitioners (Academy or WMASAP) was absorbed into the WMVMA.

Explanation & history:
Two West Michigan veterinary professional groups were started many years ago with different goals and missions. In recent years, however, they converged into two nearly identical organizations. (More history of each group is later in this email.) Now is the time to join our two organizations into one, dedicated to providing quality continuing education and the professional camaraderie and friendship that is so valuable.

In Summary:
  • Effective January 1, 2018 – The Western Michigan Veterinary Medical Association and the West Michigan Academy of Small Animal Practitioners will be merging into one organization, which will retain the name Western Michigan Veterinary Medical Association.
  • Dues – $75 annually (This is less than the current combined WMVMA & Academy dues, and will be periodically reassessed and reduced when possible.)
  • Meetings
    • Monthly meetings will continue on the 3rd Thursday of the month; September-November and January-May (the previous WMVMA schedule).
    • In addition, Academy-type meetings are planned for the 1st Tuesday OR Wednesday of the month; October – December and February – May.
  • We will continue to provide information via email/website/Facebook on additional CE opportunities being offered throughout West Michigan.
  • The Executive Committee will meet quarterly and will include the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, IT Coordinator, CE Committee Chair(s) and Community Outreach Committee Chair(s). The officers for 2018 are listed at the bottom of this email. 
  • A CE Committee will be developed to help plan and develop the organization’s CE opportunities. Members with interest in participating should contact Rebecca Vincent at   This committee will meet quarterly and correspond over email.
  • A Community Outreach Committee will also be developed. Members interested in participating as a committee chair or member should contact Ryan Colburn at  This committee will meet semi-annually and correspond over email.
This merger is an exciting endeavor, but as we look forward it is important to remember where we have been.

The WMVMA History (100 years!)
On February 23, 1917, twenty three veterinarians met in the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce building to discuss the forming of a local veterinary association. This group was made up of practitioners from Allegan, Ottawa, Muskegon and Kent counties. Under the direction of Dr C.S. McGuire, they drafted a proposed constitution that was adopted that day. The Western Michigan Veterinary Medical Association was born and Dr. George W. Hare of Allegan was elected to be the first president. Meetings generally focused around winter meetings of the Grand Rapids Veterinary College Alumni and summer lake-side picnics. These lessened in the 1920’s, but regular meetings and all-day clinics were restored in the 1930’s. The organization continued to flourish with very active legislative involvement in the 1940’s and 1950’s and even helped foster the development of three other associations that now function as their own organizations. The constitution was revised in 1965 and the group has been focused on presenting high caliber scientific and social programs ever since.

The Academy History (40+ years!)
In the mid 1970’s, the Western Michigan Veterinary Medical Association had started to focus more heavily on the social programs. Meetings often involved spouses joining for dinner, and after the meal the wives (as membership was almost exclusively men) would have a veterinary auxiliary meeting while their husbands would meet for a formal meeting and presentation. Membership at that time included many large animal practitioners and thus presentations were often on large animal topics as well as small animal topics. One snowy evening in the mid-1970’s, Drs. Dick Bennett, Dick Gremel, and Wayne Weisner got together for an informal discussion at the Animal Clinic in Grand Rapids. They decided that they wanted to get together regularly to discuss small animal topics more in depth while also having the chance to do some case presentations. This was the birth of the West Michigan Academy of Small Animal Practitioners. The group met monthly for several years at Dr. Bennett’s practice (The Animal Clinic) and eventually started to rotate the meeting between clinics around town. Meetings included pizza and soft drinks and a chance to see how colleagues were practicing, organizing their facilities, and stocking their pharmacies. Rarely, meetings would occur at a commercial building, but the goal was not to spend much money as Dick Bennett reports they were all “tightwads.”  Ultimately, the meetings were very rewarding and the group enjoyed the chance to meet with their colleagues and pick up ideas on how to do things differently. As these meetings have grown in popularity, the organization has continued to flourish. Officers have joined the group to provide their leadership, communication has modernized to a robust emailing list, and the group eventually added a website. Meetings have become so well-attended that they are too large to host in a practice.
As the two organizations have continued to grow and develop over the years, there is significant overlap in meetings and missions. In addition to sharing many of the same goals, there are also the challenges of providing the support and leadership for two organizations. The realities of busy careers can make recruitment of new leadership challenging, especially with both organizations seeking those leaders from within our profession.
It is, therefore, the goal of both organizations to merge into a single organization to be known as the Western Michigan Veterinary Medical Association, effective January 1, 2018. The new WMVMA will continue to provide meetings each month covering formal topic-based presentations, while maintaining some Academy traditions such as case-based or M&M style rounds. Additional opportunities such as workshops, wet labs and social gatherings will also be offered. Membership dues will be $75 annually, lower than the combined dues of the two separate organizations.

To facilitate the changeover, the current WMVMA Officers will continue from 2017 through 2018:

2017 Executive Committee
President: Ashley Tittle         
Vice President: Ryan Colburn
Secretary: Sarah Faasse      
Treasurer: Margaret Sudekum
IT Coordinator: Chris Dykhouse
Rebecca Vincent                    
Christi Hage                           

Dr. Jeff Johnson will be retiring, after 38 years as the WMVMA Treasurer!

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