Legislative fly-in gives voice to College of Veterinary Medicine students
Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014
MANHATTAN — Two days in the nation's capital will have a lasting impact on two students from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University.
On a break from learning how to treat animals, first-year student Kelsey Sparrow, Overland Park, and second-year student Penelope Burchfiel, McLean, Va., received lessons on how to work with people — in this case, U.S. senators and representatives.
In all, 71 veterinary students from different universities and 29 veterinarians participated in the American Veterinary Medical Association's Legislative Fly-in, Feb. 10-11. During the two-day event, students learned about current bills related to veterinary medicine under consideration in the House and Senate, and how to lobby on behalf of their profession.
"I believe a keen awareness and understanding of the implications of public policy and participation in the process of policymaking are an inherent requirement to truly fulfill the obligations we take on in the veterinarian's oath," Sparrow said. "Changing legislation affects how we care for our patients in a variety of ways that may be unapparent to those who are actually making and voting on legislation. We have the power to bring awareness to elected officials of the negative or positive implications of policy change."
After discussing these issues with fellow fly-in attendees and American Veterinary Medical Association governmental relations leaders, the participants met at their respective Senate and House offices to explain the association's positions and ask for co-sponsorship of several bills, including the Prevent All Soring Tactics — or PAST — Act, Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act, Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act and the Horse Transportation Safety Act.
"These visits not only brought attention to the aforementioned bills, but also helped develop relationships that will allow for future dialogue on legislation," Sparrow said.
The participants also heard from veterinarian and U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., who is one of co-founders of the House Veterinary Medicine Caucus, and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan. This year's legislative fly-in was sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Student Veterinary Medical Association and Banfield Pet Hospital.