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Learning Beyond the Clinic: Top Veterinary Associations to Propel Your Career Forward

Learning Beyond the Clinic: Top Veterinary Associations to Propel Your Career Forward

There is no industry of professionals with more of a drive to learn than the veterinary profession. Go on, prove us wrong.

Admittedly, maybe it’s because our industry changes so quickly, and we couldn’t do our jobs without being some level of nerd. But ultimately, we really love what we do—even when the going gets tough—and we’re always looking for new ways to learn and grow our skills.

Now, we’ve all experienced the many learning opportunities within the veterinary hospital itself, but there’s a whole world of opportunities waiting for us outside those walls. For the sake of keeping this blog post short enough for you to read over your (hopefully still hot) cup of coffee, we’ll focus on the veterinary associations you should consider joining to keep your finger on the pulse of cutting-edge research, specialized training, and fantastic networking opportunities. From fresh-faced grads to seasoned pros, there’s something on this list for everyone.

Let’s dive in! 🤿

The Benefits of Joining Veterinary Associations

First off, you might be wondering why you should join a veterinary association in the first place. Fair question!

Veterinary associations offer dozens of benefits. Here are our top 3:

  1. Veterinary associations provide invaluable networking opportunities, connecting you with industry experts, peers, and potential collaborators. Through conferences, events, and online forums, you can establish meaningful connections that may lead to mentorship, career advancement, and even collaboration on research projects. (We see you, fellow nerd. 🤓)
  2. Veterinary associations grant access to a wealth of resources and educational materials, keeping you up-to-date with the latest advancements in veterinary medicine. Scientific journals, research publications, and best practices guidelines contribute to continuous learning and professional development. Plus, many associations offer specialized training and certifications, validating your expertise in niche areas and helping you stand out on job applications.
  3. Veterinary associations play a huge role in advocating for their members and for the profession as a whole. Through legislative initiatives and policy advocacy, these associations work to improve animal welfare standards, veterinary practice regulations, and the overall well-being of animals.

The Top 5 Veterinary Associations We Recommend Joining

Now that you have an idea of the benefits of joining a veterinary association (or multiple), here are the top 5 associations that the Instinct team recommends most.

1. American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)

This one is a no-brainer. The AVMA is the leading professional organization representing veterinarians in the US. Its mission is to advance the veterinary profession, promote animal health, and support the well-being of both animals and humans. The AVMA’s efforts include supporting fair regulations, promoting evidence-based practices, and ensuring that veterinary professionals have a voice in shaping the future of the profession.

Some of the AVMA’s programs and benefits that we recommend looking into:


Membership Cost: $370 per year, with discounts available for students and recent graduates

2. National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA)

NAVTA is fully dedicated to supporting and advancing the veterinary technician profession. As the premier professional organization for vet techs in the US, NAVTA advocates for your rights, recognition, and professional growth.

The association is particularly well-known for its work to elevate the status of veterinary technicians and establish them as valued members of the veterinary healthcare team. 👏

In addition, NAVTA offers a wide range of educational resources, including webinars, online courses, publications, and access to industry trends and best practices. Their certification programs, such as the Veterinary Technician Specialist (VTS) designations, recognize expertise in specialized areas of veterinary medicine.

Overall, NAVTA encourages veterinary technicians to assume leadership roles, advocates for their profession, and ensures their contributions are acknowledged. Through regional chapters, NAVTA fosters a strong sense of community, offering opportunities for local networking, continuing education, camaraderie, collaboration, and professional development among veterinary technicians nationwide.


Membership Cost: Starting at $75 per year for credentialed members

3. American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)

AAHA is one of the leading accrediting bodies for veterinary practices in North America. This prestigious, highly respected organization sets some of the highest benchmarks for excellence, and its membership offers a number of advantages, like:

  • Accreditation and recognition: AAHA accreditation is a prestigious recognition of your veterinary practice’s commitment to delivering exceptional care. Membership opens the door to the rigorous accreditation process, showcasing your practice’s dedication to high standards and continuous improvement.
  • Client trust and retention: AAHA accreditation instills confidence in pet owners, demonstrating that your practice adheres to the highest standards of care. This trust helps retain existing clients and attracts new ones seeking top-notch veterinary services.
  • Best practices and guidelines: AAHA provides its members with access to the latest industry best practices, guidelines, and standards. This ensures your practice can stay up-to-date with advancements in veterinary medicine, enhancing the level of care you provide to your patients.

And there’s more! AAHA also offers continuing education, networking opportunities, and resources that enhance the quality of care and elevate the standards of the animal healthcare industry. Joining AAHA can help your practice clearly demonstrate your commitment to excellence, enhance your reputation, and contribute to the continuous advancement of veterinary medicine.


Membership Cost: Starting at $315 per year for individuals (with discounts for students and graduates), and $1,375 per year for a practice

4. Society for Veterinary Medical Ethics (SVME)

While not strictly focused on specialty veterinarians, the SVME is a valuable organization focused on increasing understanding of the philosophical, social, moral, and ethical values encountered in our profession.

SVME fosters discussions and offers resources on ethical issues that can apply to both general practitioners and specialists, promoting ethical awareness and decision-making in various fields of veterinary medicine.

If you’re interested in veterinary ethics, SVME is a great association to consider. It offers a close-knit network of professionals, bringing together individuals from diverse backgrounds who share an interest in veterinary ethics. This unique community enables members to exchange unique perspectives, experiences, and knowledge, fostering collaboration and understanding within the realm of ethical considerations.


Membership Cost: $60 per year

5. Your State’s Veterinary Medical Association

As we all know, every state does things a little differently. And often, the people writing legislation that impacts veterinary care are not, in fact, veterinary professionals. So state veterinary medical associations play a major role in advocating for the interests and needs of local veterinarians and the patients they treat.

These associations actively engage with state legislatures and regulatory bodies, representing the needs and concerns of veterinary professionals in the state. By joining, you can contribute to shaping legislation that impacts your practice, promoting fair regulations, and advocating for policies that support animal welfare and public health.

Naturally, state VMAs also offer great networking opportunities, allowing you to build a professional network within the state. And maybe get another dependable colleague on your speed dial for that next clinical conundrum you face.

And don’t forget about state-specific educational resources and CE opportunities. Most state VMAs are able to specially curate their education to regional health trends and industry information that are important to you and your patients.

You can find a list of state VMAs here, on the AVMA’s website.

So what do you think? Inspired? Ready to propel your career forward? We hope this list of top veterinary associations was helpful, and that you find the right association to help you expand your knowledge base, collaborate with experts and peers, and advance your career.

Have a favorite association that we missed? Connect with us on Facebook and LinkedIn and share yours.

*All prices are listed in USD unless otherwise noted.