Becoming a Leader of the PAC!
As a new or recent female graduate from veterinary school, we all know the strength of women in our career field. We grow up seeing far more women than men attend veterinary school, and our classes are full to the brim with females. After graduation, the theme continues as many of our new colleagues are women as well. The disparity between genders makes an appearance at the upper levels of leadership roles. As young female veterinarians who are eager to be involved with local, state and national organizations, we often find ourselves split between the feelings of frustration and helplessness of not knowing where to start. The idea of joining a committee or board seems daunting. The good news is that there are so many veterinarians, men and women, young and old, who are willing to help us find our path to leadership. All that stands in your way is your desire to pursue it.
As a newly elected member to the AVMA PAC board, I started my journey about a year ago. I was blessed and fortunate to meet several amazing colleagues along the way; bosses, friends and mentors all helped guide me to the destination. The key to getting started is to express interest, and talk to anyone and everyone about what you want to do. You never know who you’ll meet, and those contacts can serve as advisors as well as advocates for you. These people will become life long friends, and one day you may have the opportunity to return the favor.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to run for an elected position. Don’t ever be afraid to let people know your strengths and what you can bring to the table. Sometimes our lack of traditional experience can be used as a strength. Your youthful energy, your tech-savvy-generation skills, your free time, and even your gender can become strengths when it comes to leadership.
There are many easy ways to join committees and task forces within your local and state VMAs, AVMF, AVMA, etc. Often those “shoe-in” positions need only your willingness to participate, and they can be a great confidence builder for future leadership roles. It’s been shown that women assess risk differently from men. We tend to make our decisions based on our odds of attaining the desired outcome. Don’t let the odds of not being elected sway you away from running for a position. The worst thing that can happen is you don’t get that particular position, but now many new people know your name and your willingness to make a difference. That in itself is an amazing way to be recognized as a leader. Having leaders know your name and your story will pay dividends in the long run.
Use your contacts, attend conventions, dress to the level you at which you want to succeed. Promote yourself. You are your biggest advocate in life. Don’t be afraid to walk up to someone in an upper-level leadership role and introduce yourself. Practice a firm handshake, give them a warm smile and let them know what you want out of life. Lean on others when you need guidance, and in turn be a beacon for someone else. Be prepared for the chance of failure, but even more importantly, be prepared for the chance of success.
Eva Evans, D.V.M.
Centennial Hills Animal Hospital
Las Vegas, NV