Meet the President: Scott Richardson, DVM

Jesse Vaughn, Communications Intern | Florida Veterinary Medical Association | Published: Issue 2 2024

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Quick Facts:

  • Served in the United States Army
  • Graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Constitutional Law 
  • Attended the University of Kentucky as an agriculture major
  • Graduated from Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Worked with cattle, equines, and small animals

As of April 20, the FVMA is proud to welcome Scott Richardson, DVM, as president for this year. 

Dr. Richardson was born and raised in an agriculture community in Western Kentucky and was around horses and cattle his entire childhood. When he was five years old, he met Dr. Lorren Waggoner when he came to his school and began telling stories about his work as a veterinarian. From that moment, Dr. Richardson was hooked.

When he started high school, he volunteered for a clinic, and it only secured the dream of being a veterinarian. He applied to Auburn University in 1988 as a pre-vet student, where he wrestled with chemistry. After deciding to switch majors to Constitutional Law, he graduated in 1992 and went into the United States Army. Unfortunately, his military career was cut short due to a knee injury. Dr. Richardson was determined to become a veterinarian and decided to try one last time.

Roughly 18 months after enrolling at the University of Kentucky as an agriculture major, he’d finished all the pre-vet requirements and applied to Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. After graduation, Dr. Richardson went to a cattle-heavy, mixed-animal practice in Northern Georgia and began working with cattle in the morning, small animals in the afternoon, and building the practice’s equine clientele. Dr. Richardson and his wife, who is also a veterinarian, moved around a couple more times before settling down in Tallahassee. They purchased a small animal practice and he worked out of his truck to build large animal clientele. Dr. Richardson now practices regulatory medicine. 

“I think it took me several years to feel ‘comfortable,’ even after that I would still occasionally feel the ‘imposter syndrome’,” said Dr. Richardson, “At my first stop in Georgia, my boss at the time did a yearly veterinary mission trip to Central America. After my first month there, I was on my own for over a month. Nothing like being thrown into the fire.” 

Dr. Richardson has been in multiple different positions throughout his time as a veterinarian. Not only was he involved in the Student Association of the AVMA (SAVMA), the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), and the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) during veterinary school, he has also held positions such as vice president, vice president of a local VMA in Georgia, and was involved with Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners (KAEP). Upon his arrival in Tallahassee, he was immediately involved in his local VMA and the FVMA. Dr. Richardson was also elected president of Big Bend Veterinary Medical Association, joined the now retired Budget and Finance committee of the FVMA, and worked on that committee for six years.  

“I got a year off and when Dr. Steve Steverson was elected president of the FVMA, he asked me to take his position on the FVMA Executive Board. Again, I did that for six years, before being asked if I would serve as president-elect with a year off in between,” said Dr. Richardson, “It’s been a fun ride seeing veterinary medicine from this side of things.”

Q&A with Dr. Richardson

What issues within the veterinary profession would you like to address in your role as president?
Our profession is currently under the spotlight and facing challenges from some special interest groups. It’s crucial for us to fight back and respond proactively. This means finding innovative and novel ways to communicate with FVMA members and keep them updated on proposed legislation that could impact them. Secondly, it’s essential we prioritize funding for our Political Action Committee (PAC). Financial support is indispensable for addressing legislative changes effectively.

What are your priorities when it comes to advocacy and policy change for the veterinary profession?
As many of us are aware, telehealth legislation recently passed Florida’s legislature, though it has not yet been signed into law by the governor as of this May. While we didn’t achieve all our goals, neither did the special interest groups, many of which persist in making legislative changes that may not benefit our patients or our profession. The “mid-level” practitioner bill, though it didn’t gain much traction this year, is one we expect to resurface next session.

Are there new initiatives or programs you hope to introduce to the FVMA?
As noted earlier, it’s essential that we improve communication with our members as many are unaware of the services we provide and the work we do behind the scenes. This ties in with my goal of finding new ways to grow our PAC. As an example, if every FVMA member contributed $300, our PAC could raise a million dollars. This would significantly enhance our influence as a profession. We have the numbers to do this and it’s clear that there’s a need for this support. 

What changes are you hoping to see within the profession within the next five years?
We must find a way to make a meaningful dent in the student debt load.  Veterinary students currently graduating may want to go into food animal or equine practice, but it’s difficult for them to pursue these goals as the debt load is so high. Veterinarians are leaving rural areas because they cannot make enough money in these sectors and end up moving to larger cities where they can earn higher salaries in small animal practice. Many are not happy about this. I did mixed animal practice for decades and I loved it! Shouldn’t up-and-coming veterinarians have a chance to do what makes them happy too? And with that, afford a house, a family and pay off their debt? 

Is there any FVMA program or initiative that you want members to engage with more?
For several years, the FVMA has offered a mental health assistance program. Unfortunately, it’s been underutilized, and many of our members may not even be aware it exists. We need to let our members know that they don’t have to face challenges alone and that help is available.

Do you have any advice for FVMA members who are unsure how to become more involved in their association?
Go to local meetings. Talk to those in leadership at those meetings. Ask to be more involved. Learn more about our Power of Ten program; this program is training our future leaders for the FVMA. Additionally, there are various committees within the FVMA that members can join and contribute to.

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