October 2016

VMCAS Results Show Strong Demand for Class of ’21 Seats

The number of applicants to the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) rose almost six percent over last year, indicating strong interest among students in seeking careers in veterinary medicine.

During the admissions cycle leading to matriculation in Fall 2017 that closed on September 15, 2016, a total of 7,071 applicants applied to professional education programs operated by AAVMC member institutions participating in VMCAS. That’s 398 more than the 6,673 applicants that applied during last year’s cycle.

"Veterinary medicine offers an array of rewarding career opportunities in many different sectors of the profession,” said AAVMC Chief Executive Officer Andrew T. Maccabe. “Given the ever-growing importance of the role veterinarians play in providing clinical care, promoting food security and public health, and advancing biomedical science, it’s encouraging to see this data."

The total number of applications submitted was 34,116, compared with 30,567 that submitted last year, representing an increase of more than ten percent. During the 2016 admissions cycle, students applied to an average of 4.8 different schools, compared with 4.6 last year. All data is based upon preliminary results obtained from VMCAS.

Qualified applicants were reimbursed more than $33,000 through the VMCAS Fee Reimbursement Program, which is now in its third year of operation. The goal of the program is to provide financial assistance related to the application process for students with demonstrated financial need. This year, VMCAS received 365 requests for reimbursement and 168 qualifying requests were granted.

Continued improvements designed to make the VMCAS process more effective for both applicants and institutions bore fruit, according to Director of Admissions and Recruitment Tony Wynne, who noted that the AAVMC received a number of positive comments about the quality of the process this year compared with earlier years.

Financial Aid Disparities and Diversity and Inclusion Goals

The AAVMC recently found that grant aid was not widely distributed among the neediest veterinary medical students, which suggests that such aid is not systematically promoting racial and socioeconomic diversity.

To better understand the sources of support that pre-veterinary students have access to, the AAVMC examined the sources of financial support that allowed pre-veterinary applicants to graduate with less than $29,000, or a below average amount, of debt.

URVM applicants were about 10 percent less likely to report receiving “merit” aid but 12 percent more likely to report “need-based” aid. URVM applicants were also twice as likely to report military benefits when compared to other low-debt applicants. Applicants who identified as Pell Grant eligible were more likely to have worked as undergraduates and more likely to receive need-based aid and military benefits.

Pell-eligible applicants reported the lowest amount of family financial support (54%) of all applicants. First-generation applicants were less likely to report family support but substantially more likely to report receiving need-based aid. Merit aid is reported at a consistent rate for all groups with the exception of URVM applicants. Receipt of need-based aid is more likely to be reported from applicants with URVM, Pell, and first-generation backgrounds. Like merit aid, family support is widely distributed in this sample; however as noted earlier, only a slight majority of Pell-eligible applicants reported receiving family support.

Pell-eligible, URVM, and first-generation status often overlap due to the intersectional nature of these dimensions. In an effort to better understand the relationship between each of these factors and the sources of financial support, the AAVMC took a deeper dive into the data. URVM status was originally correlated with the receipt of need-based aid and military benefits, but this relationship disappeared after controlling for the effect of Pell-eligibility and first-generation status, suggesting that URVM applicants may be coming from more affluent families than originally believed.

Controlling for URVM and first-generation status had little effect on the relationship between Pell-eligibility and all sources of support. Pell-eligibility continued to be correlated with all forms of support except family aid. Pell-eligibility was the only demographic status to correlate with the receipt of merit-aid. This finding suggests that applicants coming from low socioeconomic backgrounds are unable to rely on family support in order to keep their debt levels low; this is a resilient group as they remain academically competitive for merit aid.

Similarly, first-generation applicants maintained a negative correlation with family support when controlling for other factors. This group also remained more likely to receive need-based aid.

Overall, it appears that the lower amounts of merit-based aid that students of color and first-generation students receive is something of a trend that originates during a veterinary student’s undergraduate studies. These findings raise the question as to why URVM students receive merit and need-based aid at such lower rates though they demonstrate similar amounts of financial need. The findings also provide some insight into the financial barriers to advanced education faced by applicants who are first generation college attendees and/or are coming from lower economic status backgrounds.

The Move is History

The AAVMC's conference room at 655 K Street.
It’s taken a lot of careful planning and logistics, but the AAVMC has completed its historic move from 1101 Vermont and occupied its new quarters at 655 K Street in Washington D.C.

Actually, the entire process of packing, moving out and moving in went extremely well and resulted in minimal down time, according to Chief Operating Officer Dotty Gray, who led the effort to build and occupy the 4,000 square foot facility on the seventh floor of the gleaming new office building.

“This has been a big job for all of us, but we planned well, we executed well, and we’re much better off for the effort,” said Gray, who began working on the project shortly after the board decided to make the move earlier this year.

Throughout the process, Gray worked closely with architects, contractors, movers and the staff to accomplish the task with minimal disruption to systems and operations. Outside of a few days around Labor Day weekend, it was business as usual for the AAVMC during the move.

“I’m very grateful for the outstanding leadership Dotty brought to this process,” said Chief Executive Officer Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe. “ She made it seem smooth and seamless, but like most projects of this scope, it was anything but. I’m also very grateful to all of our staff-members for all they did to make this go so well. ”

The new facilities position the AAVMC within a nucleus for educational associations in the health professions. Constructed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and opened in 2014, the 290,000 square foot complex now houses the AAMC, the AAVMC, the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), and the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA).

The sleek facade of the glass office building hints of the spirit of collaboration and open communication the AAVMC hopes will engender increased understanding and support for the One Health movement.

Designed to foster collaboration through spaces such as project teaming labs, social hubs, and more than 60 conference rooms, the building also has a rooftop terrace and café for staff and member functions.

The AAVMC will present an Open House for members and friends in conjunction with the October board meeting.

New Report Released on the Role of Accreditation in the Health Professions

Dr. Deborah Kochevar
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recently published the proceedings of a forum on the role of accreditation in enhancing quality and innovations in the health professions.

The AAVMC is among the health and education-related organizations that support the Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education, which hosted the workshop in Washington, D.C., April 21-22, 2016.

As part of the workshop, AAVMC member and former President Dr. Deborah Kochevar, dean of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, led a panel discussion on “Innovative Models of Accreditation: Veterinary Medicine and One Health Accreditation Across Nations and Sectors.” Dr. Kochevar also served on the workshop’s planning committee.

Dr. Kochevar defined One Health as the collaborative effort of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally and globally to obtain optimal health for people, animals and the environment. The discussion included how integrating a One Health approach can stimulate innovative accreditation models.

Overall, forum members explored the effect of societal shifts on new and evolving health professional learning opportunities to best ensure quality education is offered by institutions regardless of the program or delivery platform.

The workshop looked at global shifts in society, health, health care, and education, and their potential effects on general principles of program accreditation across the continuum of health professional education.

See the report on the proceedings.

RVC’s Principal Stuart Reid Honored by BVA

Dr. Stuart Reid
Professor Stuart Reid, Principal of the University of London’s Royal Veterinary College and long-time AAVMC member and leader, has been recognized by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) with their most prestigious scientific award: the Dalrymple-Champneys Cup and Medal. The award is presented annually to recognize those whose distinguished achievements and contributions encourage the advancement of veterinary science.

A graduate of the University of Glasgow, Dr. Reid returned to Glasgow Veterinary School after spending a short time in practice, becoming one of its youngest professors in 1996 and one of its youngest deans in 2005. In 2011 he was appointed Principal of the Royal Veterinary College.

“It is a huge honor and an enormous privilege to be recognized by the British Veterinary Association,” said Reid. “The fact that it is the Dalrymple-Champneys Cup and Medal is truly humbling. The advancement of veterinary science happens in every facet of our profession – the practices, labs, offices, consulting rooms, on farm, in lecture halls and in surgeries…everywhere, home and abroad. I have been fortunate enough to work with colleagues – both veterinary and non-veterinary – in all of these environments and I like to think that if the contributions arising from these collaborations are judged worthy, it is very much a recognition of the collegiate approach and the efforts of the entire team.”

Reid has over 140 publications in peer-reviewed journals, and been awarded more than £15 million in competitive research grants. Through his research, Reid has guided veterinary public health towards a deeper understanding of pathogen biology, antimicrobial resistance and control.

The award also recognises Reid’s “outstanding” contributions to the profession, both at the national and international level, including his recent presidency of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), his service on the board of the AAVMC and his chairmanship of the European Committee on Veterinary Education. Reid was the first elected president of the European College of Veterinary Public Health.

Reid’s commitment to the profession runs deep – he completed the 2015 London marathon to raise awareness and £14,000 for mental health issues in the profession, according to the British Veterinary Association.

Diversity and Inclusion On Air Program Building Momentum

The AAVMC’s Diversity and Inclusion on Air program, now in its second season, is building momentum. Current program goals include efforts to increase watch times and downloads and integrate its diversity-oriented programming into classrooms at veterinary medical schools.

The podcast, which debuted October 2015, is presented in a YouTube Live format that can be viewed live or referenced later.

In each podcast, Dr. Lisa Greenhill, the AAVMC’s Associate Executive Director for Institutional Research and Diversity, features different speakers for hour-long discussions on veterinary topics through a diversity lens. Viewers and participants can access the program live and post questions during the program.

Since the program’s launch podcast viewers have watched 5,727 hours of programming on YouTube, and listeners have streamed the audio version 509 times through a variety of podcast applications.

The most-watched episode of the first season, called “Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and The Job Search,” focused on unique job-related issues to consider for veterinary professionals who identify as LGBTQ.

Another popular show featured Dr. William Gilles, director of Wisconsin Companion Animal Resources, Education and Social Services (WisCARES), which provides holistic health care and housing support to Dane County's disadvantaged residents and their pets.

The most listened-to program looked at “Holistic Admissions,” featuring Kim D'Abreu, who works with a program that focuses on incorporating holistic review practices across the nation's dental schools.

Other episode topics have ranged from the role of the Women's Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative (WVLDI) on promoting women in leadership in the veterinary profession to a recent episode about diversity through the lens of public practice veterinary medicine, where viewers could learn about employment opportunities in the public sector and ways to increase pubic practice diversity.

The show’s content is supplemented by a page on Facebook, where local programming ideas are regularly posted along with educational infographs about different kinds of diversity.

See Diversity and Inclusion On Air on YouTube: http://tinyurl.com/DiversityInclusiononAir.

100th Birthday for Academic Veterinary Medicine’s Greatest Recruiter

Put some veterinarians and veterinary students in a room and it won’t be long before the name James Herriot surfaces. Herriot’s beloved “All Creatures Great and Small” series inspired generations to pursue careers in veterinary medicine. But did you know James Herriott was actually the pen name for veterinarian James Alfred “Alf” Wight, who was educated at Glasgow Veterinary College?

The books, which recount the challenging but idyllic life of a British country veterinarian, were turned into a BBC series watched by millions. To celebrate the centennial of Wright’s birth (October 3, 1916), New York’s Macmillan Audio has posted a number of memorable excerpts, read by Christopher Timothy, who played Herriott on the BBC television series. Click here to hear some of the passages that may have inspired your own journey into this rewarding profession. #Herriot100

Academic Veterinary Medicine in the News

'Life at Vet U' Shows Vet Students Tackling Animal ER Challenges

Good Morning America, ABC, Yahoo News

Cool Jobs: Linking Animal Health to Human Health
Science News for Students

Bird flu Epidemic Sparks $8.5M in Upgrades to Willmar Poultry Lab
Star Tribune

New Tool Compares Cost of Veterinary Schools for Students


Saskatchewan Vet College Gets New Learning Center

Veterinary Practice News

Reaching for New Heights in Veterinary Well-being

Kansas State Gets FDA OK for Pilot Project on Antibiotic Use

Veterinary Practice News

WCVM Dean to Serve as AAVMC President
Horse Canada

U of Guelph to Enhance Infectious Disease Research Facilities
Veterinary Practice News

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Stops Known Trigger of Lupus
Science Magazine

Research Sheds Light on Mechanism That Leads to Drug-Resistant Superbugs

Science Explorer

Science Says This Fact About Dog Ownership is Key to Living a Longer Life
Hello Giggles

Kansas State University Researchers Develop Zika DNA Vaccine

Outbreak News Today

Ohio State's Vet College Receives $39 Million Donation

Baylor Researchers Receive Grant to Study Canine Cancer, Test New Therapies for Translation to Human Cancers

Houston Style Magazine

Texas Tech Forms Steering Committee for Proposed New Veterinary School


AVMA COE Council Members Selected


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