January 2014

Annual Conference to Address Medicine at the Intersection of Animal, Human and Environmental Health

There’s still time to register for the 2014 AAVMC Annual Conference, “One Health in Veterinary Medical Education,” March 14-16, 2014. The conference, focused on One Health, will explore the many benefits of taking a global, discipline-spanning approach to animal, human and environmental health. It’s sure to spark lively, content-rich discussions from a wide spectrum of experts in academic veterinary medicine and related organizations. Please join us in Alexandria, Virginia, for a seminal meeting of the minds, where leaders who care about academic veterinary medicine can come to hash out issues, get inspired, network, and strategize.  Learn more and register. Plus, hear what some participants had to say about last year’s conference in the following video.

Capitol Hill Briefing Highlights Scope, Implications of Educational Debt in Academic Veterinary Medicine

Student debt in academic veterinary medicine took the stage December 3, 2013, at an AAVMC/AVMA Congressional briefing organized through the Congressional Veterinary Medical Caucus. Speakers at the U.S. Capitol shared data related to veterinary medical education, including tuition and student debt, funding strategies and important provisions of the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act that have the potential to improve the situation.

At the briefing, AAVMC Associate Executive Director for Institutional Research and Diversity Lisa Greenhill described the typical veterinary medical student who graduates with $162,000 in accumulated educational debt. Soaring student debt across higher education has emerged as a major public policy issue but it has been especially troublesome in academic veterinary medicine, where tuition has risen and salaries lag behind other health professions like human medicine and dentistry.

Kevin Cain, the AAVMC’s director of governmental affairs, and Gina Luke, the AVMA’s assistant director for governmental relations, are working with the bipartisan Veterinary Medicine Caucus to help advance a legislative agenda that includes proposals related to the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and a proposal to make payments through the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) tax free.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s VMLRP program pays up to $25,000 each year towards qualified educational loans of eligible veterinarians who agree to serve for three years in areas where there is a designated shortage of veterinarians. However, the loans are currently taxed at the rate of 39 percent. The AAVMC and the AVMA want to eliminate the tax penalty in order to make repayment options more equitable and consistent with other health professions.

Proposals related to the Higher Education Reauthorization Act include a reconsideration of the rates and loan terms currently available to professional and graduate students, including a refinance option, the re-establishment of subsidized loans, and an interest rate decrease for professional and graduate loans to match the rate for undergraduates. Other priorities include support for financial aid programs that help diverse students gain access to higher education and support for programs that increase financial literacy.

Briefing participants also heard about the experiences of a recent graduate, Dr. Eric Deeble, who works as an AVMA Fellow in the office of Senator Kirsten D. Gillibrand (D-NY). For Deeble, the drive to become a veterinarian stemmed from a desire to have interesting, meaningful employment that makes a positive difference in the lives of animals and people. Despite carrying a more-than-average debt load of $206,000, “I knew what I was getting into and I would do it again,” he said.

The AAVMC and the AVMA plan to present two Congressional briefings a year on different issues in the profession.

AAVMC and AVMA Convene Joint Committee Meeting.

Top leaders from the AAVMC and AVMA convened in Washington December 19 for a Joint Committee meeting.

Following organizational updates from AAVMC President Dr. Kent Hoblet and AVMA President Dr. Clark Fobian, the leaders were briefed on progress made by committees working in three specific areas: educational debt, day-one competencies and the AVMA workforce study. A number of other topics were also addressed during the day-long meeting.

Discussions were also held in the following areas:
  • The new organizational structure and proposed financial formulas for supporting the work of the reconstituted Council on Education (COE)
  • Strategies for helping the AVMA to reach out to veterinary college faculty members concerning AVMA membership
  • The JAVMA News editorial policy with respect to students and privacy
  • AAVMC and AVMA collaboration on issues like increasing diversity in the profession and promoting One Health
  • The AVMA’s approach to veterinary medical education in their next strategic plan
  • Future meetings between college of veterinary medicine deans and AVMA executive board members
Periodic Joint Committee meetings between the senior leaders of the two organizations began about two years ago in order to promote greater collaboration in addressing major issues affecting the veterinary profession.

AAVMC Leadership Academy Continues to Encourage and Nurture Promising Leaders

“If you do what you love, you will never have to go to work.”

That’s the philosophy of Michael Dunn, chairman and CEO of Dunn and Associates, who will speak about advocacy to the 26 participants enrolled in the AAVMC’s Leadership Academy in March. Loving your work and knowing how to communicate the importance of it to strategically affect government decisions is central to Dunn’s mission. A former political science instructor, he served as a legislative assistant for two former U.S. Representatives and worked for four years as the first director of government relations services with the Public Affairs Council, a professional organization for people working in public administration and policy.

The academy, which will take place just before the 2014 AAVMC Annual Conference in Alexandria, Virginia, includes the opportunity to accompany veterinary medical college deans to Capitol Hill to discuss pressing issues in academia and the profession with legislators and Congressional staff. It also features a panel discussion led by veterinarians who have risen to leadership positions in academia as presidents, provosts and chancellors. Scheduled panel participants are: University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro; former Louisiana State University Chancellor and system President William Jenkins; former Kansas State University Provost James Coffman; Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Secretary of Institutional Development Francisco José Trigo Tavera;.and North Carolina State University Provost Warwick Arden.

AAVMC launched the Leadership Academy in 2012 to inspire and mentor young leaders and equip them with leadership training and skills designed to help them help the profession. The goal is to bring emerging leaders together to learn from each other and develop lasting personal and professional ties between veterinary medical schools and departments.

The academy convenes for three sessions on various topics. The first session of the 2013-2014 Leadership Academy, held August 8–10, 2013, in Lansing, Michigan, included media training by Bonnie Bucqueroux and Sue Carter from Michigan State University’s (MSU) School of Journalism and a session by former MSU Women’s Resource Center Director Patricia Lowrie on “Calibrating the Lens(es) of the Inclusive Leader.”

The second leadership session, held November 7–9, 2013, in Indianapolis, Indiana, included a presentation on managing conflict from Indiana University’s Director of Organizational Development Debra Dunbar and sessions on strategic thinking and leading change from Cynthia Devers, associate professor of strategic management in MSU’s Broad College of Business and a fellow at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Corporate Reputation.

The third session in March represents the final session for the 2013-2014 cohort.

Member institutions select one promising leader from their school to attend the academy. Elanco, through a grant to the AAVMC, sponsors the program.

New Survey Policy Creates Centralized Process

The AAVMC has always provided guidance and support for investigators wishing to survey personnel in our member institutions. In order to provide better service, that support has been formalized in a new survey policy recently established by the Board of Directors.

The policy creates a process by which surveys distributed to AAVMC member institutions can be monitored, standardized and enhanced by the AAVMC. The goal of the policy is to increase the efficiency of the process and the quality of the results by working with investigators during an earlier phase of their research.

The policy seeks to address a number of issues. For example, variations in the quality of survey instruments can affect the integrity and the value of the data acquired. Also, high volumes of survey activity can introduce the danger of “survey fatigue,” which can diminish the interest and capacity of individuals to participate in survey programs. In some cases, investigators may find that the data they seek already exists.

Under the new policy guidelines, investigators seeking the approval of the AAVMC for dissemination of surveys to the AAVMC’s member institutions must submit a proposal to AAVMC Associate Executive Director for Institutional Research and Diversity Lisa Greenhill.

Submissions should be received by the AAVMC prior to seeking Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval from within their respective universities or organizations. Submissions should also be received for review at least one month prior to the anticipated start of data collection.

More detailed information about the new survey policy is available here.

AAVMC Conducts Webinar on LGBT Climate Study

In November, AAVMC Associate Executive Director for Institutional Research and Diversity Lisa Greenhill presented a webinar on the results of a climate study on the experiences of LGBT students at schools and colleges of veterinary medicine, hosted by VOICE and Broad Spectrum student organizations.

In 2011 the AAVMC conducted a national climate study of all DVM students. That study showed that students who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender have different experiences as CVM students when compared to their heterosexual counterparts.

As a follow-up to the climate study, the AAVMC, along with a research team composed of members from Purdue University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Tennessee and University of Wisconsin-Madison, undertook a study that collected data from 246 students in order to better understand the different experience of LGBT students.

LGBT students identified three general climates, or levels of acceptance: A warm climate is characterized by attributes such as accepting attitudes toward LGBT students, “out” students and faculty, the ability to easily identify LGBT allies, and welcoming symbols and language; a lukewarm climate is characterized by attributes such as moderate, passive or inconsistent support levels; and a chilly climate is characterized by superficial or no support, poor treatment, and a general perception of non-acceptance.

Preliminary conclusions from the study are that some students are not academically performing at full capacity because of fear that knowledge about their orientation will negatively affect assessment. Some students are socially withdrawn because it is not safe to bring a partner along to social events, and there is some concern that LGBT students believe they will be marginalized during clinical rotations or in the job search.

On the plus side, students generally have positive perceptions of the experiences; even small efforts to improve inclusion have a big impact on the general climate. Also, most heterosexual students report similar themes on what the climate is for LGBT students at their school.

Next, Greenhill and her colleagues will continue to analyze qualitative data from this study and submit their findings for publication in the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education (JVME).

View webinar slides here.

Academic Veterinary Medicine in the News

Veritas launches new continuing education courses for veterinarians

Lowering the cost of health care requires lowering the cost of medical education
The Almagest

Printing 3-D models eases complicated veterinary surgeries

USEA forms new horse health education partnership
The Horse

Drug developed at University of Missouri incubator to begin trials at vet school
Columbia Tribune

Biomedical science master's for veterinary professionals extends online

Research uncovers gene's contribution to asthma susceptibility

New rules shift oversight of feed antibiotics to veterinarians
The Pig Site

Gift to fund equine diagnostic and surgical center in Indiana

Online training provides continuing education for veterinarians
Midwest Ag Journal

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