November 2013

Greetings from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges

From the Director's Desk:

Dr. MaccabeIt sometimes feels like the world is spinning faster on its axis, doesn’t it? It seems like yesterday we were wrapping up our summer meeting in Chicago and getting underway with fall semester. And just like that, the Holiday season is upon us. But when you stop and think about it, much has happened in between. We’ve processed almost 30,000 applications for the Class of 2018, added new affiliate members, and planned and presented meetings that enrich student learning and advance veterinary education. Through it all, we’ve continued to work with our partners in the profession, business and government to help create a better world for veterinary medicine, so veterinary medicine can help create a better world for everyone. Please take a few minutes to learn more about what's happening in academic veterinary medicine in this edition of “Vet-Med Educator.” And best wishes for a wonderful holiday season.

Andrew Maccabe
AAVMC Executive Director

AAVMC 2014 Annual Conference to Focus on One Health

Leaders from academic veterinary medicine and related disciplines will convene to focus on “One Health in Veterinary Medical Education” during the AAVMC Annual Conference in Alexandria, Va., on Friday, March 14 through Sunday, March 16, 2014. Registrants will be able to:
  • Hear from professionals working on the front lines of One Health
  • Learn how to incorporate One Health principles and practices into your curriculum
  • Grapple with real-life challenges that affect animal, human and environmental health
Topics will include building a One Health program, public health, alternative education models and teaching methodologies, research using interdisciplinary teams, and other practical and informative sessions centered on a One Health theme.

Learn more and register.

Applicant Numbers for 2014 VMCAS Cycle Constant

The number of applicants for admission to veterinary medical school for the 2014 Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) cycle remained essentially the same as the number during the previous year, but the overall number of applications rose, based upon recent VMCAS data.

“These data suggest that dedicated and talented young men and women continue to view veterinary medicine as a viable and rewarding career opportunity in the health sciences,” said AAVMC Executive Director Dr. Andrew Maccabe.

The number of unique applicants slightly decreased from 6,766 in 2013 to 6,744 for 2014, or 0.33%. (See Figure 1). When viewed against the five-year average of unique applicants (6,337), the 2014 numbers represent a 6.4% increase in unique applicants.

This year, a total of 29,805 applications for admission were submitted, compared with 27,705 applications for last year, representing an increase of 7.5%. When viewed against the five-year average for the number of applications (24,309), this year’s total represents an increase of 23%.

The increased number of applications probably results from the addition of three additional colleges of veterinary medicine to the VMCAS system for the 2014 application year, according to AAVMC officials.

The applicants-to-seat ratio for the class of 2018 is estimated at 2.1 to one. (See Figure 2). Ten years ago, the ratio was 1.9 to one, and the ratio has remained fairly constant throughout the past decade, according to AAVMC records.

Three additional colleges, Ross University in St Kitts, the Midwestern College of Veterinary Medicine in Glendale, Arizona, and Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine in Harrogate, Tennessee, began participating in the VMCAS program this year, creating more opportunities for application. Because Ross admits three classes per year, there was a net increase of five new programs participating in VMCAS.

“Given the size of the applicant pool, the new programs did not result in additional unique applicants, but spread the existing application pool slightly wider,” said AAVMC Director of Admissions and Recruitment Tony Wynne, noting that each prospective student applied to an average of 4.4 institutions.

All of the data presented pertains to AAVMC member institutions that participate in VMCAS, which represents 90.5% of first-year seats at U.S. colleges of veterinary medicine.

The 2014 cycle also saw a number of changes and improvements in the operation of the VMCAS service itself, according to Wynne. Chief among those were transcript verification, a new automated service that increased efficiencies for both the applicants and the colleges, the introduction of a new and improved web-based student management system called WebAdMIT, and a transfer of customer service operations to Liaison International, a Boston-based contractor.

Figure 1

Figure 2

The “Average” Veterinary College Applicant

Ever wonder what the average applicant to vet school is like? AAVMC researchers have constructed a composite of the average applicant offered admission during the 2013 VMCAS cycle.

The average applicant was a 24-year old female from the suburbs who had earned a bachelor’s degree and applied 1.2 times (if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.) She had an average GPA of 3.56 and had GRE scores of 155 (66th percentile), 154 (57th percentile) and 3.9 (54th percentile) on the verbal, quantitative, and analytical tests, respectively.

The average number of veterinary contact hours, which represents volunteer or paid service working in a veterinary medical setting, was 2,462.

Finally, she knew before she was ten years old that she wanted to study veterinary medicine when she grew up.

Bear in mind that these attributes define the average student offered admission, not necessarily all who matriculated.

AAVMC Plans Veterinary Medicine Caucus Briefing

Educational debt, veterinary medicine and re-authorization of the Higher Education Act will highlight a breakfast briefing scheduled on Dec. 3 for the Veterinary Medicine Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, sponsored by the AAVMC and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Six new members have joined the caucus since the August recess, bringing the total number of members to 19. New members are: Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL); Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS); Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT); Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS); and Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) See the full listing.

The caucus is led by two House members who are both veterinarians. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) formed the caucus to increase awareness of the importance of veterinary medicine and address issues in veterinary medicine that affect the nation.

Primary Care Veterinary Educators Convene for World Symposium

About 70 veterinary educators representing more than 60 AAVMC member institutions gathered at Purdue University for a conference focused on primary care education in academic veterinary medicine October 17-20, 2013.

The 2013 AAVMC Primary Care Veterinary Educators' (PCVE) World Symposium was designed to help companion animal primary care educators generate new ideas and develop new approaches through presentations and networking. The group seeks to prepare more clinically competent general practitioners who possess the range of technical and communication skills required to practice quality veterinary medicine.

“I see the PCVE educator group being made up of passionate, enthusiastic and dedicated faculty from around the world that are playing an important role in molding the future direction and success of the veterinary profession by preparing today's veterinary student for tomorrow's veterinary profession,” said Dr. Jason Coe, an associate professor at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College, who has served as an instrumental leader for the organization. “By providing a forum for primary care veterinary educators to network, share ideas, and develop new approaches to teaching primary veterinary care, the symposium hosted at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine is one example of how we collectively support each other in preparing ourselves to be the best veterinary educators we can.”

The Partners for Healthy Pets (see related story in this newsletter) gave an update of their activities, in addition to presentation topics that ranged from coaching strategies, practice management and promotion and tenure for primary care faculty, to more clinically oriented topics such as low-stress feline handling in the clinical environment.

Other programs created informal opportunities for sharing best practices related to primary care instruction and planning and administrative discussions related to the PCVE’s establishment within the AAVMC as a sub-committee of its Academic Affairs Committee. A poster session on pedagogical innovation and research was also featured.

Merial provided funding for the meeting.

"Our company is committed to the success of the profession, and we believe that graduating a more broadly skilled, self-confident and accomplished veterinary practitioner will help advance the profession," said Merial Director of Field Services Dr. Hal Little. "That's why we're so pleased to be able to partner with the AAVMC on this program. Supporting this meeting is one of our most significant investments and it is definitely one of our wisest."

In order to ensure grassroots participation in the meeting, registration, accommodation and travel assistance was provided for one designated representative from each AAVMC U.S. and international school or college of veterinary medicine.

AAVMC Meets with NICHD Leadership

As part of the AAVMC’s efforts to educate and build relationships across the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Executive Director Dr. Andrew Maccabe and Associate Associate Executive Director for Academic and Research Affairs Dr. Ted Mashima recently met with Dr. Yvonne Maddox, Deputy Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and Lisa Kaeser, Director of NICHD’s Office of Legislation and Public Policy.

The purpose of the meeting, which was the first time AAVMC representatives have met with the NICHD, was to build relationships and explore opportunities for collaboration between AAVMC member institutions and the institute.

Maddox and Kaeser demonstrated a broad and enthusiastic understanding of the role that veterinarians play in biomedical research and led discussions regarding a trans-NIH initiative focused on quality assurance in NIH-sponsored projects. They also discussed NIH-operated zebrafish research colonies (zebrafish are becoming a more commonly used animal model in biomedical research) and planned a future tour of the facilities.

Maddox also arranged introductions with other NIH officials for the AAVMC visitors.

AAVMC staff frequently arrange meetings for deans and associate deans of research from member institutions to meet with NIH officials in an effort to develop relationships that can lead to sponsored research collaborations.

COE Selection Committee Established

The AAVMC has established a five-member Council on Education Selection Committee that will appoint members to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) recently restructured Council on Education (COE).

Members include Dr. Sheila Allen, dean, University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine; Dr. Deborah Kochevar, dean and Henry and Lois Foster Professor at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine; Dr. Mark Markel, dean, University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine; Dr. Bryan Slinker, dean, Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine; and Dr. William “Terry” Swecker, professor and associate department head at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. AAVMC Associate Executive Director for Institutional Research and Diversity Lisa Greenhill will serve as staff liaison.

Appointed by the board, the Council on Education Selection Committee members will serve three-year, staggered terms. The committee will establish a process for recruiting qualified individuals to serve on the Council on Education, identify and recruit potential candidates and make recommendations to the AAVMC Board of Directors regarding appointments.

The AVMA House of Delegates approved changes in the constitution and operations of the Council on Education during their 2013 annual meeting. Members of the COE will now be appointed for six-year terms by the AAVMC and AVMA instead of being elected by the AVMA House of Delegates.

The Council on Education now includes eight members appointed by the AAVMC and eight members appointed by the AVMA. As part of the changes, site visits to institutions will now be limited to individuals who are not current members of the COE.

The structural changes will occur gradually as existing members of the COE complete their terms. The first member of the AAVMC to be appointed to the newly restructured board will begin their term in July 2014.

2014 Veterinary Educator Collaborative Symposium Scheduled

The Nov. 15 deadline for submitting session proposals for the 2014 AAVMC Veterinary Educator Collaborative (VEC) Symposium is approaching. The symposium, which will be held June 13-14, 2014, on the campus of Iowa State University, features nationally and internationally renowned veterinary educators describing their work in the classroom and clinics, with content custom-designed to inform, inspire and motivate veterinary educators.

Typically, 100-200 veterinary educators gather for a weekend of intensive interaction where they can learn about the latest trends, technology and pedagogy.

This year, the symposium will feature two tracks: (Teaching and Learning and Inter-Program Exchange) and a poster session.

The Teaching and Learning Track is designed to provide faculty with practical research and theory-based ideas that can improve their teaching and students’ learning. It will feature effective teaching approaches as demonstrated by teams of experienced teachers and education experts who explain what works.

The Inter-program Exchange Track will provide a forum to tackle issues that may be of broader concern to an educational endeavor, such as helping students with special needs, how to handle the situation when students don’t meet expectations, clinical teaching, and teaching as scholarship, with clear discussions of what is or is not effective.

Every two years, the AAVMC sponsors the VEC Summer Symposium, held at various member institutions.

As a working group of the Academic Affairs Committee of the AAVMC, the VEC provides online and face-to-face collaboration and sharing focused on planning, faculty development and best practices. VEC participants exchange ideas, learn from each other, and generate new ideas in the context of an ongoing collaborative exchange.

Learn more about submitting a proposal.

Three New Affiliates Join AAVMC

Three new affiliate members have joined the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) in the past several months. The schools are: the Graduate School of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Tokyo, Japan; the College of Veterinary Science and Medicine at Central Luzon State University in the Philippines; and the School of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery at Universidad Veritas in San José, Costa Rico.

“The AAVMC’s influence extends globally, and our goal is to be inclusive and collaborative, elevating standards of professionalism worldwide,” said AAVMC Executive Director Dr. Andrew Maccabe. “We welcome these three new members to the AAVMC community and to the benefits of affiliate membership, including access to the latest news and data related to academic veterinary medicine. Our goal is to advance veterinary medical education and increase understanding of the important role that veterinary education and the profession plays in the health and wellbeing of the entire world.”

Affiliate membership in the AAVMC provides five complimentary copies of each issue of the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education (JVME) for distribution, as well as free, online JVME access. Affiliate members have the right to participate but not vote in meetings of the assembly, to participate on all committees, and to attend symposia and conferences hosted by the association.

Affiliate members of the AAVMC are not eligible to join the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS); however, they can be listed in the AAVMC’s Veterinary Medical School Admissions Requirements (VMSAR) book, which lists the admissions requirements for all AAVMC member and affiliate colleges of veterinary medicine.

Texas A&M’s Eleanor Green Appointed APLU Representative

Dean Eleanor Green
The AAVMC Board of Directors has appointed Dr. Eleanor Green, the Carl B. King Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University, as the AAVMC’s representative to the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU).

As liaison, Dr. Green will serve as a member of the AAVMC board and represent the AAVMC on the APLU’s Commission on Food, Environment, and Renewable Resources (CFERR) Board on Veterinary Medicine and the Board on Agriculture Assembly Budget and Advocacy Committee.

Green is a diplomate of both the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) and the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). She has served as president of three national organizations, the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians (AAVC), and the ABVP.

“I am dedicated to the mission of the APLU, having earned my undergraduate and DVM degrees at two different land-grant institutions and subsequently held academic appointments at five more land-grant institutions during my career,” Green said. “Higher education has never been more important to our society and the focus on the public interest is particularly relevant today. It is an honor to represent the AAVMC as APLU liaison.”

She replaces Dr. Trevor Ames, dean of the University of Minnesota College Of Veterinary Medicine, as liaison. The term of appointment is two years and may be renewed once, for a maximum term of four years.

The APLU is a research, policy, and advocacy organization representing 218 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and related organizations.

Veterinary Health and Wellness Summit Presented at Ohio State

Rising costs, student debt, financial worries and concerns about workforce opportunities have added extra stress to the lives of today’s veterinary school students, who already contend with the demanding nature of rigorous academic programs.

In recognition of that growing problem, The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine hosted the first Veterinary Health and Wellness Summit On September 25 and 26, 2013.

Sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association and Zoetis, the conference attracted over 60 educators, administrators, and mental health professionals from 25 institutions to discuss health and wellness issues related to veterinary students and the profession.

The conference was developed in response to a growing body of evidence that veterinary students are experiencing increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression and these factors may impact productivity, longevity, and enjoyment within the profession.

The goals of the conference sought to develop a common understanding of the health and wellness issues in veterinary students and recent graduates, share best practices and foster collaboration, and formulate an action plan for enhancing health and wellness within the profession.

Several key issues were identified that may limit the ability of veterinary colleges and schools to adequately support mental health and wellness among veterinary students. For example, the stigma that still remains around the discussion of mental health issues may prevent students, as well as faculty and staff, from seeking assistance.

Many veterinary schools do not provide exclusive counseling services specifically for veterinary students. Part-time counselors who are not familiar with the veterinary culture often provide the counseling that is available. Finally, few standardized protocols or best practices that have been developed.

There was significant interest at the conference of continuing the dialogue by seeking support and collaboration from the AAVMC.

“The health and wellness of our students is of paramount importance for all of us, and we commend the organizers for presenting this important summit,” said AAVMC Executive Director Dr. Andrew Maccabe. “The well being of each and every student is important, but this is more than a matter of compassion and humanity. It’s an issue that can affect the performance of the entire profession. We look forward to active collaborations with other groups as we develop strategies for addressing this challenge.”

Conferees identified the need to have mental health professionals integrated into veterinary colleges and schools so they are more familiar with the veterinary student’s culture and environment.

North American Veterinary Leaders Meet in Mexico

Officials representing the organized veterinary medical communities and academic veterinary medicine in the United States, Canada and Mexico recently convened in Oaxaca, Mexico for a North American Veterinary Leadership meeting.

The periodic meeting is designed to foster collaboration among veterinary medical organizations in the three countries on the North American continent.

AAVMC Executive Director Dr. Andrew Maccabe presented an update on U. S. academic veterinary medicine, and AVMA President Dr. Clark Fobian shared a report on the American Veterinary Medical Association. Their Canadian and Mexican counterparts also made presentations concerning the activities of the organizations they lead in their respective countries.

Officials from the Pan American Association of Veterinary Sciences (PanVet) and the World Veterinary Association also made presentations concerning their organizations. AVMA Executive Vice President Dr. Ron Dehaven led a discussion regarding the adoption of a joint position on unwanted horses, and other discussions were held on cross-marketing continuing education conferences and meetings, coordinating global activities pertaining to animal health and well being, bee health as it relates to food production and supply, and other topics.

AVMA Presents 2013 Veterinary Workforce Summit

About 50 leaders from organized veterinary medicine, veterinary academia and business recently gathered at AVMA headquarters in Schaumburg for the 2013 Veterinary Workforce Summit.

AVMA Executive Vice President Dr. Ron DeHaven and AVMA Veterinary Economics Strategy Committee Chairman Dr. Link Wellborn led the meeting, which was facilitated by Randall Robinson, president of LBL Strategies.

Following the release of a major workforce study in April 2013 that determined a current over-capacity of 12.5% in the profession, the AVMA resolved to develop a more sophisticated system of data collection and analysis related to workforce issues that could be operated on an ongoing basis.

The summit's goal was to create a system that provides quality information to help market participants and policymakers make informed decisions that promote market efficiency.

Meeting participants identified market linkages, data requirements and partners needed to approach the development of the system.

Summit participants identified and considered a number of questions related to supply and demand. For example, quality data is required on the number of practicing veterinarians, the number of veterinarians entering and exiting the market, the amount of time invested in actual clinical practice and clinical practice financial data.

On the demand side of the equation, better information is needed on the number of animal owners, estimated number of animals, and demand characteristics for non-clinical practice, as well as consumer preferences related to veterinary services.

Partners for Healthy Pets Launches Consumer Campaign

The PHP ad urges pet owners to "Make an appointment for an annual check up today."
The Partners for Healthy Pets (PHP) campaign has launched the consumer education component of their multimillion dollar campaign designed to increase preventive health care for companion animals. The AAVMC is a major sponsor of the program and 18 of its member colleges of veterinary medicine are affiliates. The AAVMC is encouraging all member institutions to partner with the initiative.

The comprehensive digital and print campaign urges consumers to call their veterinarian and make an appointment for a yearly checkup immediately.

Ads begin appearing online in September and in print in October; a public relations campaign also began in September. Television public service announcements (PSA) are scheduled for 2014.

The campaign also includes a major component focused on practitioners. Participating practices are provided with materials encouraging them to “start the conversation” with clients about the importance of preventive healthcare for all pets.

PHP as a committee of the non-profit American Veterinary Medical Foundation and includes more than 90 organizations, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, and the AAVMC.

Tufts’ Veterinary School Part of $24 million NIH Translational Science Award

The Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), which includes the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, was recently awarded a $24 million Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The $24 million award will help support the institute’s work over the next five years.

The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine is an integral member of Tufts CTSI and its role will continue to drive One Health issues, according to Dean Deborah T. Kochevar.

“A One Health committee is being developed within Tufts CTSI that will bring together the institute’s diverse partners to share knowledge on human and animal health,” she said.

Tufts CTSI accelerates the translation of laboratory research into clinical use, medical practice and health policy. With its 39 CTSI partners, Tufts CTSI connects people to research resources, consultation, and education, and fosters collaboration with scholars of all disciplines and with community members, with the ultimate goal of improving the health of the public.

Institute of Medicine Elects UC Davis Veterinary Faculty

A faculty member from the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine (IOM). Membership is considered one of the nation’s highest honors in health and medicine.

Dr. Jonna Mazet, professor of epidemiology and disease ecology and director of the Wildlife Health Center and One Health Institute, becomes one of only 19 veterinarians in the IOM, which includes more than 1900 people. She is also global director of PREDICT, part of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Emerging Pandemic Threats Program.

The IOM is an independent, nonprofit branch of the National Academy of Sciences. Its members are recognized as distinguished individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health.

“I feel like I’m being honored for a body of work that is only possible because I’ve been lucky to work with an amazing team,” Mazet said of her election to the IOM. “We can only begin to solve global problems by working effectively together across disciplinary, geographic and political boundaries.”

To address global health challenges, Mazet employs a One Health approach, the philosophy for which the One Health Institute she directs is named. One Health recognizes that humans, animals and the environment are inextricably linked.

As director of the $75 million program PREDICT, she has brought together an interdisciplinary team of experts to develop and support a global early warning system for emerging diseases that move between wildlife and people, such as HIV, Ebola and SARS. Her leadership has expanded the One Health workforce by more than 2,500 people and discovered 250 viruses known to cause epidemics.

As a professor in the school of veterinary medicine, Mazet mentors veterinary and graduate students and postdoctoral trainees, and provides service to government agencies and the public regarding emerging infectious disease and conservation challenges.

Among her accomplishments, Mazet received the International Wildlife Disease Association and American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians Joint Thorne Williams Award for most significant contribution to the field of wildlife health in 2011. She also received the 2012 Outstanding Alumna Award from UC Davis, where she earned all of her higher education degrees and has spent the majority of her 19-year career.

The IOM is renowned for its research program, but it is also an honorific organization with more than 1,900 members and foreign associates who donate their time to put their knowledge and expertise to work for the nation’s health.

Academic Veterinary Medicine in the News

In 1807, doctor at Penn struck blow for veterinary science (op-ed, Dean Joan Hendricks)
Philadelphia Inquirer
Thyroid project at Kansas State sheds light on molecular processes related to cystic fibrosis
Medical Xpress
University of Missouri vet school partners on cancer study
Columbia Daily Tribune
Texas A&M veterinary students inform through PEER webcasts
The Observer, Your Houston News
New study says systems approach is best way to train veterinarians
Beef Magazine
Fla. veterinary students learn practice management skills through new externship
DVM 360