June 2016

Texas A&M University CVM&BS Wins 2016 AAVMC Excellence in Communications Award

The communication program at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, led by Communications Director Megan Palsa, Ph.D., has been recognized with the 2016 AAVMC Communications Excellence Award.

The six-member judging team was impressed with the strategic focus, comprehensive nature and overall sophistication of its communication program. Judges also noted the college’s exceptional engagement with the AAVMC’s 50th Anniversary celebration, which coincided with planning for the Texas A&M college’s own 100th anniversary in 2016.

“The connection between communications excellence and institutional advancement is crystal clear,” said AAVMC Executive Director Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe. “We congratulate our colleagues at Texas A&M for earning this honor. Operating a communication program at this level does more than ensure their college is meeting and exceeding the needs of its stakeholders. It has a significant national impact that benefits all of academic veterinary medicine.”

The communication program played a tangible role in numerous metrics of success achieved by the college during 2015: Almost $33 million in private support was secured, the Veterinary Teaching Hospital treated 27,978 cases, $30.4 million in extramural funding and grants were logged, and 576 students applied for the 138 available slots in the first year class.

“In a world where technology is rampant and information is a fundamental necessity, communication programs for academic veterinary medicine establishments have become an essential component to function successfully,” said Dr. Eleanor Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University. “Reaching a massive amount of people is no small task and keeping them engaged is another feat; however, Dr. Palsa and the CVM Communications team readily accept the challenge and continue to triumphantly succeed in shifting, progressing and impacting the realm of veterinary medicine on a global scale.”

In addition to key messages designed to highlight the essential role played by the college and the veterinary profession, program themes also focused on One Health, diversity and inclusion and leadership.

The Texas A&M CVM&BS media relations program earned more than 3,900 hits, including major national media like ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS Frontline, the New York Times and others. The college’s Facebook page attracted 1,678 new followers during the year, represented growth of 24 percent over the prior year.

Websites hits during the year tallied 3.9 million, representing an 8.3 percent increase over the year before. 2.9 million of those were unique views, up 11.5 percent from the year before. The website ranked first at the university for conversion, a metric which measures the rate at which website visitors either make donations or seek information from the Texas A&M University Foundation.

Judge’s also noted success in a variety of other traditional and innovative program areas. 76 press releases were distributed, which were viewed 56,751 times on the website. The college broadly engaged with key constituents such as the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, providing regular content for their Texas Veterinarian publication, as well as monthly content in other key Texas trade media.

504 tours were provided for 2,856 visitors, up 11.5 percent from the year before. The bi-annual CVM Today magazine was distributed to about 5500 subscribers, with the online version viewed 13,255 times. A weekly Pet Talk column resulted in 18,877 views and college experts were featured bi-monthly on a local television program. They also implemented an interactive university signage program and helped support the college’s Serving Every Texan Every Day initiative.

The college also broadly engaged with the AAVMC’s yearlong 50th anniversary celebration. AAVMC anniversary videos, publications, and other collateral were featured in college communication programs and at college events. Faculty and administrators included general information about the AAVMC as part of presentations at 27 meetings and conferences. Faculty members shared the AAVMC’s 50th anniversary video 103 times at academic and professional conferences around the world.

The six-member team of judges included communication professionals representing member organizations of the Federation of Associations of Schools of the Health Professions (FASHP) in Washington, D.C., the AAVMC and the AVMA. Judges scored nominations from four competing schools using an empirical process that assessed criteria such as quality and scope of the program, leadership and innovation in program development, engagement with AAVMC programs and other factors.

The award includes a $1,000 honorarium, a plaque and public recognition. It will be presented during the annual meeting of the Association of Veterinary Advancement Professionals (AVAP) on Tuesday, August 9, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas. Honorees are invited to make a presentation on the winning communications program during the annual AVAP conference.

The AAVMC Board of Directors established the Communications Excellence Award in 2013 to recognize the important role of communications in advancing academic veterinary medicine and the profession, inspire higher level of performance and foster collaboration among member institutions.

New Leadership for AAVMC Leadership Academy

Dr. Shaw (left) and Dr. Cornell
Dr. Karen Cornell from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences (CVM&BS) and Dr. Darcy Shaw from the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC) in Prince Edward Island, Canada, have been chosen to head up the AAVMC's Leadership Academy.

The AAVMC launched the Leadership Academy in 2012 to focus on developing future leaders in academic veterinary medicine. It exists to help develop emerging leaders in academic veterinary medicine and serves as a forum for building lasting ties between faculty members at veterinary schools and departments around the world.

Academy participants typically enroll in a year-long, three-component program focused on various aspects of leadership, including effective communication, strategic thinking, change management, conflict resolution, advocacy and other areas.

“It’s vitally important that we actively cultivate leaders who can inspire and motivate others and who have both the practical skills and the vision to lead academic veterinary medicine into the future,” said AAVMC Executive Director Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe.

Drs. Cornell and Shaw are replacing the academy’s founding leaders, Dr. Mike Chaddock, associate dean for administration at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Jim Lloyd, dean of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

“Drs. Cornell and Shaw are exceptionally well qualified and we’re very pleased to have them engaged with this key AAVMC program,” said AAVMC Executive Director Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe. “We’re also immensely grateful to Drs. Lloyd and Chaddock for the initiative and service they brought to the creation and development of our Leadership Academy.”

Drs. Cornell and Shaw have both won numerous teaching awards and held leadership roles in professional organizations.

Dr. Cornell is the associate dean for professional programs at the Texas A&M CVM&BS. She previously served on the faculty of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, where her roles included chief of staff for surgery, assistant department head in the Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, interim director of the teaching hospital, and associate dean of academic affairs.  

As a lead facilitator and consultant for the Institute for Healthcare Communication (IHC), she has trained over 330 veterinary faculty members from 36 veterinary schools in effective communication and has developed and delivered educational materials regarding communication within veterinary teams, disclosure of medical errors, delivering feedback and conflict resolution. 

Dr. Shaw is a professor of small animal internal medicine in the AVC’s Department of Companion Animals. He has served in several roles at the AVC, including hospital director, department chair and associate dean of professional services. He is a past president of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and helped establish the AVC’s communication skills teaching program.

The AAVMC’s Leadership Academy program is sponsored by Elanco.

2016 Stakeholder Survey Launched

The AAVMC is conducting its 2016 Stakeholder survey. The goal of the study is to gather data and generate insights about the AAVMC communication program. In addition to examining information consumption patterns and preferences, the study is also designed to assess stakeholder perceptions of core issues within academic veterinary medicine.

A study population of just over 1,000 internal and external stakeholders has been developed, which includes member institution leaders, faculty members, institutional advancement officers and veterinary medical students. It will also include leaders and members of allied organizations in veterinary medicine and representatives from key government agencies and corporations doing business within the profession.

In addition to assessing levels of familiarity and affinity, the survey will also examine stakeholder perceptions regarding economic issues within the profession, perceived levels of understanding about the importance of veterinary medicine in society among certain stakeholder subsets, the role of the profession in human health and wellbeing and other areas.

Data will be used to inform and shape key communication programs. If you would like to participate in the survey, please click here.

AAVMC Schedules Legislative Briefing on Capitol Hill

The AAVMC will present a Legislative Briefing focused on the role of veterinary medical research in preventing and mitigating global infectious disease outbreaks on Tuesday, June 21 in Room 121 of the Cannon House Office Building from noon  – 1:30 p.m.

Participants will focus on critical gaps in information about Zika, Ebola, and other potential and emerging public health outbreaks, highlighting how veterinary research can help fill these gaps.  Panelists will explore why and how these knowledge gaps impact an effective public health response.

The briefing will emphasize the value of veterinary medical research in building and supporting an infrastructure to be better prepared for public health outbreaks prior to their occurrence.  
Briefing panelists will likely include DVMs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center, in addition to expert representation from AAVMC member institutions.

Interns and Resident Exemption Intact Under Department of Labor FLSA Announcement

A regulatory statement issued by the U.S. Department of Labor on May 17, 2016 regarding overtime pay for salaried employees has substantially increased the salary threshold for employees entitled to overtime pay.

The ruling will likely impact some staff, graduate students, research assistants and post-doctoral students at member institutions. However, as outlined in a letter from AAVMC Executive Director Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe to deans of U.S. member institutions on April 28, “it is clear to us that veterinary medical interns and residents are exempt from the rule” under both the “Practice of law or medicine” and “Learned professional” exemptions.

The changes were articulated in a policy directive titled “Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)."  Under the new provisions which are effective December 1, 2016:
  • The minimum income threshold for exemptions is increased from $23,660 to $47,476 (DOL original rule was $50,440)
  • The salary level is pegged to 40th percentile of full time workers in the lowest wage census region of the United States (currently southeast) and will adjust every three years (DOL original rule sought annual updates).
  • No changes were made to the “duties test” for exemptions or the “teaching exemption.”
  • Department of Labor has issued clarifying “Guidance for Higher Education Institutions” that classifies post-doctoral researchers and other full-time research personnel working on federal grants as eligible for overtime pay based upon the new standard.
Following the ruling, NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., announced that postdoctoral Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA) stipends will be increased to levels that exceed the new salary threshold.

In comments submitted to United States Department of Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez on September 3, 2015, the AAVMC outlined its position that interns and residents should be exempt from the overtime provisions.
  • Our position is consistent with exemption classifications described in the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division Fact Sheet #17D for the medical professions.
  • Our position is sanctioned by a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling in 2004 (Clark v. United Emergency Animal Clinic, Inc.) that veterinarians fall within the exception for medical practitioners.
While the intern and resident exemption remains intact, the new DOL ruling will have substantial economic impact throughout the public and private sector, including colleges and universities. Most of our member schools and colleges of veterinary medicine are members of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU). APLU President Dr. Peter McPherson released the following statement on May 17:

“While it is appropriate for some increase to the minimum income threshold for overtime exemptions, we are concerned that the administration’s new regulation appears to considerably increase costs for universities. Public universities in particular are already under great financial strain because of state disinvestment. Schools will work hard to contain the impact, but this rule appears to put upward pressure on tuition, while also adversely impacting institutions’ academic, research and outreach missions. Nevertheless, the regulation is complex and we need to carefully study it to fully understand its impact.”

The AAVMC continues to work closely with the APLU, the Association of American Medical Colleges, (AAMC), the Federation of Associations of Schools of the Health Professions (FASHP) and other organizations to interpret how the new regulations will affect the workplace within our member institutions.

The AAVMC is also supporting the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act (S. 2707, H.R. 4773), which would require the Department of Labor to conduct a detailed analysis of the impact of the new regulations prior to implementation of the final rule.

Virtual Vet Med Fairs Slated to Connect with Prospective Students

The virtual fair will offer many of the same benefits as an in-person fair.

The AAVMC will present two online Vet Med Fairs, sponsored by Liaison International: the first on Thursday, July 14, and the second in the fall. Liaison International is the Boston based company that works with the AAVMC in operating the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS).

These interactive, virtual events are designed to showcase veterinary medical schools and provide a rare opportunity for high school students and other prospective students to interact with schools directly, according to Tony Wynne, the AAVMC’s director of admissions and recruitment affairs.

Eleven veterinary medical schools are scheduled to participate in the fair, which will feature branded information such as videos and web information, as well as interactive online chats with representatives.

“This is a way for schools and VMCAS to engage with the veterinary medical school pipeline, and it provides an exciting, interactive opportunity for students to learn more about the schools they are interested in and about applying to veterinary school,” said Wynne. “We expect to present another fair in the fall and, depending on the outcome, we may make this a staple of the student engagement system.”

Details, such as exact times and the fair Web address, are still under development and will be publicized through the AAVMC website, direct email marketing and through the VetSchool Student Engagement System’s (VSES) Pathways Newsletter. For more information, please contact Tony Wynne (twynne@aavmc.org).

U.S. Army Veterinary Corps 100th Anniversary Highlights role of Veterinarian

The mission critical role veterinary medicine plays in the military was highlighted during the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps 100th anniversary celebration held on June 3rd at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.

AAVMC Executive Director Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe, a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, represented the AAVMC at the ceremonies. Every year, a number of graduates from AAVMC member institutions join the Corps.

A highlight of the event was the unveiling of a monument commissioned to commemorate the special role of the Veterinary Corps. Created by San Antonio artist Donna Dobberfuhl and installed at the Army Medical Museum, the statue depicts four veterinarians at work during different periods over the past 100 years. The AVMA funded the work.

While the Corps was officially established by the National Defense Act of 2016, the need for veterinary expertise in the U.S. military traces back to the Revolutionary War when General George Washington directed that a “regiment of horse with a farrier” be established, according to information provided by the Uniform Veterinary Medicine Association.

In addition to the ceremonial dedication of the anniversary statue, the program included a variety of events, presentations and tours, including remarks by U.S. Veterinary Corps Chief Brigadier General Erik Torring.

Today, the Corps includes about 880 veterinary officers who provide a range of services that reflect the critical role the profession plays in the modern world. Those include providing clinical care for military working dogs and pets of service members, ensuring food safety and security, infectious disease control, and conducting medical research and development.

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