The AAVMC’s Spectrum of Care Initiative: Developing strategies for veterinary educators to prepare graduates to practice across the spectrum
Veterinary medical education programs are uniquely positioned to develop practitioners’ confidence and competence in practicing across the spectrum of care (SOC). The term “spectrum of care” (SOC) has only recently been defined in the veterinary literature as the wide range of care options that veterinarians can provide (Stull et al., 2018, p. 1386).
With support from The Stanton Foundation, the AAVMC established the Spectrum of Care Initiative (SOCI) in 2021. This initiative is intended to provide the infrastructure, guidance, and assistance for an inclusive and collaborative approach to supporting and enhancing SOC training in veterinary education.
What is Spectrum of Care Practice?
Veterinarians are trained to offer the most appropriate care for their patients. Those who practice across the spectrum distinguish themselves by their ability to provide a variety of high-quality, evidence-based care options that meet the needs of both the patient and the client (Fingland et al., 2021). A key aspect of spectrum of care practice is tailoring care based on a range of contextual factors that are often unique to each individual case and the client, patient and veterinarian involved in that case (Stull et al., 2018). Influential factors may include client factors (e.g., their goals, values, expectations, beliefs, abilities, and resources), veterinarian factors (e.g., their spectrum of care knowledge and skills), and practice factors (e.g., expertise and availability of equipment), as well as scientific evidence and professional guidelines (Dial & Englar, 2023; Stull et al., 2018).
While spectrum of care as a term is relatively new, practicing across the spectrum is not a novel approach to veterinary practice. Many veterinarians are experienced when it comes to offering a range of care options and discussing their risks and benefits, especially when a client is unwilling or unable to proceed with care due to a variety of factors. While spectrum of care is not the same as access to care, when veterinarians practice broadly across the spectrum, they can help increase the accessibility of veterinary care by providing care options that are responsive to client beliefs, values, financial limitations, expectations, and relationships with the patient. Spectrum of care should also not be conflated with incremental care, which is a case management approach that aims to increase access to care by sequencing care options such that they become progressively more complex and, consequently, costly over time based on the patient’s response to care (Access to Veterinary Care Coalition, 2018; AlignCare, n.d.).
Work by the AAVMC Spectrum of Care Initiative (SOCI) focuses on supporting the development of veterinarians’ competence and confidence in practicing across the spectrum, as these are factors that can be directly influenced by veterinary education programs.
The Spectrum of Care Initiative
With support from The Stanton Foundation, the AAVMC established the SOCI in 2021. This initiative is intended to provide the infrastructure and assistance for a unified and collaborative approach to enhancing and supporting SOC training in veterinary education. The SOCI is spearheaded by the AAVMC SOCI team with the guidance of a Task Force representing a variety of veterinary education stakeholders, including national and international academic leaders, educators, and practitioners.
The SOCI recognizes that veterinary education programs may be in different stages of implementing SOC training and aims to meet the needs of programs across these stages. For programs that are already incorporating innovative and effective elements of SOC training in their curricula, the initiative seeks to help these programs maintain and/or make continual improvements to their existing SOC training. For programs considering embedding new or additional SOC training into their curriculum, the initiative aims to provide guidance and resources on how to do so.
Click to read: Goals of the Spectrum of Care Initiative
How to Get Involved
Veterinary education programs that would like support with their efforts to adopt, maintain, or expand SOC training into their curriculum can contact the AAVMC SOCI team. Similarly, programs should contact the SOCI team if they would like to share their ideas and experiences with embedding SOC training into their curricula.
Regardless of how far along your program is with integrating and enhancing SOC training, your perspective, experience, and knowledge will be an invaluable contribution to this collaborative approach to preparing graduates to confidently and competently practice across the spectrum of care.