Meet 2021-2022 CVMA President Dr. Ashley Ackley!

Meet 2021-2022 CVMA President Dr. Ashley Ackley!

CVMA welcomed Ashley Ackley, DVM, to the helm of CVMA as president during a CVMA Board of Directors meeting on September 23. A Colorado native , Dr. Ackley will be formally installed in her new role during the annual member meeting on December 5.

Dr. Ackley is a proud CSU Ram through-and-through; she holds undergraduate, graduate, and veterinary degrees from CSU. Dr. Ackley currently practices at Animal Urgent Care in Arvada, where emergency medicine is her passion. She is certified in veterinary acupuncture and Fear Free. In her free time, you can find her volunteering with Metro Denver Partners, traveling the world with Vet Treks, mountain biking with her very tolerant husband Jacob and doting on her animals.

CVMA sat down with Dr. Ackley to get her take on current issues impacting veterinary professionals in Colorado.

What drew you to veterinary medicine in the first place?

I have the common “I always wanted to be a veterinarian” story. I have always had a deep appreciation for the creatures in this world.  When I was in 1st grade, I spent my recesses on a grassroots campaign to save all of the ants from being stepped on. My love for animals quickly progressed from there and I moved on to mammals, dogs and cats especially. I also loved watching medical shows growing up, but found humans to be gross. Veterinary medicine is everything I could want in a profession! It’s never boring, often challenging and thought-provoking with the human-animal bond at its core.

What made you decide to join the CVMA Board of Directors?

I wanted to find a way to serve the veterinary community in a different fashion than my everyday job. The personal connections, conversations and inspiration from our members has made it easy for me to want to be involved with CVMA. We have so many fascinating, talented people around the state. CVMA allows me to be at the forefront of issues that are impacting our profession and I love working with like-minded folk that want to make a difference for the veterinarians of Colorado.

Why are you passionate about serving your community as CVMA president?

I think it’s important that veterinarians recognize and support the community we have in each other. CVMA is one way I can honor our profession and continue to strengthen and protect that community.

Why is it important to you to be a CVMA member?

I find that CVMA is such a support pillar in helping us navigate our field, sometimes in ways we don’t even recognize. There is a lot of work that goes into advocating and protecting our profession in CO that personally I was not always aware of. I hope we are doing a good job of conveying this to our members as all veterinarians benefit from the work CVMA does. I truly believe that our staff, board and chapter representatives are all the same page in trying to better the profession for our members. CVMA also strives to provide high quality education opportunities and member well-being services that I hope members are taking advantage of.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in veterinary medicine in Colorado over the years?

This is coming from a decade of a small animal career, but I hope this resonates with many. Because Colorado is such a wonderful place to live, the sheer number of clients and animals has continued to outpace many veterinarians and their staffing capabilities, even prior to COVID. The spectrum of care has broadened as some clients are demanding more specialized care for their pets and others are still struggling to access care. Thankfully there is more of a focus on the mental health and well-being of our profession. From a medical standpoint, I think veterinarians are paying more attention to pain management and the behavioral health of their patients as well.

From your perspective, what is the biggest challenge facing Colorado veterinarians today? 

This is a hard question because there are so many! Staffing shortages, rural veterinary shortages, access to affordable care, corporate take-over, mental health and wellbeing and student loan debt are some that easily come to mind. However prior to my time with CVMA, I had no idea how profoundly legislative issues can impact our profession. I think this is something that is often overlooked in our day-to-day. Many of the these issues are brought about by non-veterinary professionals and can have substantial impacts on how we practice veterinary medicine. An example of this would be Ballot initiative 16, which is thankfully off the table at this time. These issues will continue to be a challenge for our profession and I am thankful for the advocacy work that CVMA does.

What is the most inspiring thing you’ve seen or heard of practices doing during the COVID-19 pandemic?

There was not one thing in particular, but I really felt like veterinarians were coming together and supporting each other more readily. There was protocol and information sharing, more frequent check-ins and reaching out, and an overwhelming understanding of the stressors we were all dealing with during COVID. It felt very collaborative.

If you had one piece of advice to give your colleagues in Colorado, what would it be?

Remember that you are some client’s hero, some animal’s savior, someone’s cure or some colleague’s role model. I think veterinarians tend to brush off the small wins we make every day and it can be hard to see the positive impact we have. We all worked so hard to be a part of this profession and I hope that we can find meaning and gratitude for what we provide to our communities.