July 2015

AAVMC Meeting of the Assembly July 13

Faneuil Hall Marketplace at dusk
The AAVMC's Meeting of the Assembly will be held from 1:30-5 p.m. on Monday, July 13, in Boston, Massachusetts, in conjunction with the 2015 AVMA Convention. The Assembly Meeting will be held in the Grand Ballroom of the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel.

The agenda will include: a financial update and presentation of the FY 2016 budget; an update on the AVMA Council on Education by Dr. Cyril Clarke, dean of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and the AAVMC Liaison to the Council on Education; an AVMA update from AVMA Vice President Rebecca Stinson-Dixon; and a SAVMA update by SAVMA President Jessica Carrie.

There will also be a presentation on conflicts of interest in medical research and education.

At the conclusion of the Assembly, current President Dr. Trevor Ames, dean of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, will officially pass the gavel to incoming AAVMC President Dr. Eleanor Green, dean of the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Learn more and register.

Bellwether AVMA Report Examines Salaries and Debt

Infographic courtesy of AVMA Economics Division

Recently released data from the AVMA’s Division of Economics shows that salaries in veterinary medicine are beginning to recover from the historic economic downturn of the “Great Recession.”

Mean starting salary for graduates who accepted a full-time position in private practice was $66,879. Mean starting salary for all graduates, including those who elected to continue their professional education through internships, residency programs, and graduate education was $51,917.

Educational debt, however, continues to put a drag on economic vitality. Mean debt for all graduates was calculated at $135,283, which is roughly twice the “conventional wisdom” that accumulated debt should not exceed one year’s salary.

Considered the most comprehensive study of income and educational debt in the veterinary profession ever-conducted, the analysis was structured upon data accumulated from the Senior Survey, Employment Survey and Veterinary Compensation Survey. AAVMC researchers assisted with providing data for the study.

The data examined was collected from 2001 through 2014. During that period, according to the AVMA researchers, about 55% of respondents accepted full-time employment in private and public practice, 24% elected to continue post-DVM education, and 12% provided no response.

The percentage of graduates undertaking internships, residencies and other advanced studies grew from 20% to more than 30%. The growth in internship positions has occurred at the expense of full-time professional positions in companion animal and equine practices, according to the report. This has also affected mean starting salary figures for all graduates.

Salary data supporting the mean of approximately $67,000 ranged from about $45,000 to about $90,000 and was highly variable, according to the AVMA report. Factors affecting salaries ranged from practice type, geographic region, educational debt and gender. Female veterinarians earned $2,438 less than males.

The report creates two new metrics devised to help better understand economic trends within the profession; debt-to-income ratio (DIR) measures the financial health of new veterinarians entering the profession and net present value (NPV) of the veterinary medical degree measures the lifelong benefits of earning a veterinary degree. For 2014, the DIR was calculated at just over two.

$1.26 Million NIH Grant Expands Purdue CVM After-school Science Program Nationwide

After-school programs provide opportunities to augment childhood education and shape future attitudes and interests. That’s part of the reason why Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine operates an after-school role program that helps teach elementary school students about how veterinarians help keep both animals and people healthy.

The already successful program will use a $1.26 million Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs, a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to expand nationally.

The after-school program involves kindergarten through fourth grade students in interactive science and math experiences. As part of the curriculum, students learn how veterinarian-scientists help animals affected by many of the same diseases that affect humans—cows with diabetes, dogs with cancer, and horses with asthma—and how the same methods can help to prevent and treat human health conditions.

Purdue hopes to have the role-modeling program, called "This is How We ‘Role’" at all 30 colleges of veterinary medicine in the United States within five years.

The program focuses on students who are educationally disadvantaged due to socioeconomic status, race, or ethnicity. The long-term goal is to help diversify the veterinarian-scientist workforce by laying the groundwork and stimulating interest in math and science, including veterinary medicine, early on.

As part of the program, role models that include veterinary medical students and veterinary technology students receive culturally responsive training from Purdue experts and the Kingston Bay Group, an education consulting agency. Purdue’s College of Liberal Arts will also partner with the program by helping to deliver content in both English and Spanish, and assessment experts at Purdue’s Discovery Learning Research Center will provide a rigorous assessment of the program’s impact.

"These children have already developed creative problem-solving skills and have experience overcoming unexpected challenges, and both of those qualities are essential for good scientists," said Dr. Sandy San Miguel, the principal investigator and associate dean for engagement in the College of Veterinary Medicine. "They are the future veterinarian-scientists who are going to find cures for cancer and change our world, so we need to instill a passion in them for this work early on in their education."

For this current project, Purdue is building upon expertise developed over the past six years during the implementation of another NIH SEPA project called "Fat Dogs and Coughing Horses: Animal contributions to a healthier citizenry." That partnership with K-12 teachers and other Purdue experts led to the development of formal curricula for elementary, middle and high school students, as well as books and traveling exhibits.

"We found that the program had the greatest impact on the elementary school students' attitudes toward school, science and career aspirations, so we decided to focus on them outside of the classroom," San Miguel said.

Learn more.

Note: The above story is part of a series of stories that the AAVMC highlights in the Vet-Med Educator on a regular basis from member institutions that demonstrate the many benefits of federal investment in schools and colleges of veterinary medicine.

Executive Director Maccabe Visits Six Australian and New Zealand Veterinary Colleges

While visiting the University of Queensland, Dr. Maccabe met with educators and
administrators, including (left to right) Jenny Seddon, Glen Coleman, [Dr. Maccabe], Joanne Meers, Helen Keates, and Malcom Jones.

The Australian and New Zealand colleges of veterinary medicine are doing outstanding work in veterinary learning, discovery and engagement, are similar in scope and function to their U.S. counterparts and face similar political and economic pressures that confront all of academic veterinary medicine.

Such were the main observations made by AAVMC Executive Director Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe following a sweeping two-week trip in which he attended a meeting of the Australian Veterinary Association and visited six different schools “down under” and in New Zealand.

“This was a very valuable thing to do and an important time to make this visit,” said Maccabe, noting that one goal was to recruit more international members to serve on AAVMC committees and become more involved with the organization. “As the AAVMC continues to increase its international orientation and programming, we need to learn more about our overseas member institutions and the environments in which they are operating.”

Diminishing government support for education in Australia is exerting financial stress on the colleges, causing tuition to rise and increasing student debt, just like in the United States. And similar to conditions in the U.S., there have been some workforce concerns about excess capacity in the profession, according to Maccabe.

In Australia, there are seven colleges or schools of veterinary medicine to serve a population of about 28 million people. To put that in perspective, said Maccabe, Canada has five schools serving about 30 million people, and the state of California has about two schools serving a population of about 39 million people. In the U.S., 30 schools serve about 320 million people.

The federal government provides funding for education in Australia, not the states and territories. To help offset reduced government support, many of the Australian veterinary schools are recruiting students in China, Japan and Hong Kong.

Companion animals play a large role in Australian society and the veterinary profession plays the same critical role in agricultural production that it does in the United States, he said. Beef and lamb are the primary food animal products, and the nation exports about half of its beef.

There are some slight differences in the educational programs. Most programs award the BVSc professional degree, although there is an emerging trend toward awarding the traditional DVM degree.

“This was an intensive and very illuminating ‘immersion experience’ into the Australian system for me,” said Maccabe. “I met a lot of wonderful people, toured a number of very impressive facilities, and came away from the experience with an overwhelming impression that we’re all in this together. We share common goals and are functioning in very similar operating environments.”

During the two-week trip, Maccabe examined colleges of veterinary medicine through hosted meetings at the University of Queensland at Gatton, the University of Sydney in Sydney, Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, the University of Melbourne in Melbourne, and he also visited with the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council. He also visited Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand.

Analysis of Career Fair Registrants Yields Important Recruitment Insights

A recent report in the “VetMedEducator” described the presentation of the AAVMC’s annual Career Fair following the annual meeting in March, an event that attracted about 500 people.

Students planning to attend the event were invited to pre-register and complete a short survey about their career interests. Registrants spanned a wide range of ages from high school students to college graduates. Data collected from career fair registrants has helped the AAVMC obtain a better understanding of the current level of pre-professional engagement among the next generation of veterinarians.

Approximately three quarters (73%) of registrants reported being in high school and 18% of registrants were undergraduates. As a group, the registrants were significantly more racially and ethnically diverse than the United-States and the veterinary profession as a whole. Slightly over half (52%) of the registrants identified as being a member of a racial or ethnic group that has traditionally been underrepresented in veterinary medicine (URVM). Approximately 86% of respondents were female, a proportion that is slightly higher than found in the last few veterinary college admission cycles.

Broadly speaking, aspiring veterinarians were interested in careers that involve direct contact with animals as opposed to other veterinary careers. Treating companion animals was the leading career choice with 83% expressing an interest followed by work with zoo, aquatic, and wildlife animals (58%), while 54% were interested in working with farm animals and horses. Attendees were substantially less interested in industry and government veterinary practice or teaching at a college of veterinary medicine.

Overall, 80% of registrants currently own pets. Eighty-seven percent of Caucasian registrants own pets, while 74% of students who identified as URVM reported pet ownership. This would suggest that many attendees have annual or semi-annual contact with veterinarians while attending to the routine care of their animals. However, only about 15% of registrants reported being employed or mentored by a veterinarian.

Caucasians were also twice as likely to report being mentored by a veterinarian than URVM registrants even though pet ownerships rates were similar. This suggests that the difference in mentorship rates between Caucasian and URVM students cannot be explained by differences in pet ownership rates.

Given that pet ownership puts students in regular contact with the veterinary profession, yet mentorship and employment with veterinarians remains low, companion animal practices could potentially serve as a better career resource for aspiring veterinarians.

Mentorship and employment rates certainly have room for growth and veterinarians could help expose students who are already passionate about animal care to less common veterinary practice areas. The survey findings underscore the need for specific programming to ensure that URVM students are receiving an equal degree of early exposure to the veterinary profession.

Note: This summary prepared by AAVMC research associate Tim Shanahan.

AAVMC’s 50th Anniversary Update

A detailed and comprehensive digest of AAVMC member institution profiles, benchmarks and achievements has been published on the 50th anniversary website. More than a year in development, this site contains profiles of member institutions as well as significant dates in their history, as well as a chronology of milestone dates and achievements.

In other areas, various member institutions are continuing to develop strategies for leveraging the AAVMC’s national 50th anniversary celebration into their own recognition programs by using the grassroots engagement kits distributed in April.

Those efforts are expected to intensify following an informational presentation AAVMC Senior Communications Consultant Jeff Douglas will make during the annual meeting of the Association of Veterinary Advancement Professionals (AVAP) in Boston on July 14.

A new dashboard feature on the 50th anniversary website is helping showcase member institution engagement with the program.

The AAVMC’s anniversary video was shown during a meeting at the annual meeting of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM Forum) in Indianapolis and Executive Director Dr. Andrew Maccabe will share the video during the Research Symposium component of the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor’s annual Homecoming event in August.

JVME Editor Dr. Daryl Buss says he is pleased with the progress of the JVME’s special anniversary edition and Dr. Donald Smith is making good progress with the anniversary book.

Meanwhile, a 15-member committee appointed by the board of directors continues to examine possible topics for the celebration’s “Grand Initiative,” which will be announced in March 2016.

Leadership Academy Session Commences

The Leadership Academy is a primary way the AAVMC is preparing faculty members to play leadership roles in their colleges and universities and the veterinary profession.

The AAVMC launched the Leadership Academy in 2012 to provide leadership development for emerging leaders in academia and to provide a forum for building lasting ties between faculty members at veterinary schools and departments based at AAVMC member institutions around the world.

A new Leadership Academy cohort, including five international representatives, gets underway August 13-15 in East Lansing, Michigan, where topics will include diversity, media training, personality assessment, communications and budgeting and finance.

Session two will take place November 12-14 in Indianapolis, Indiana, where topics will include leading change, strategic thinking, managing conflict and effective teambuilding.

The third and final session will take place March 1-3, 2016, in conjunction with the AAVMC’s Advocacy Summit and 2016 Annual Conference. Topics will include effective advocacy and a panel on university administration.

This final session, held in Washington, D.C., also provides participants with 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. At the same time, International participants also have the opportunity to meet with government and NGO leaders.

While there are many types of leadership development training available, the AAVMC Leadership Academy is unique in that it is focused on helping develop tomorrow’s leaders of academic veterinary medicine. Participants quickly bond with one another and develop important lifelong relationships.

Participation is limited to faculty and staff at AAVMC member institutions and each member institution is eligible to enroll one participant.

Participants are assigned to learning groups in which they work throughout the program. Each session also includes a reading assignment relevant to leadership in academic veterinary medicine, and learning groups discuss the readings and share their findings with the class to promote engaging discourse.

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

Government Accountability Office Report Finds Need to Improve Federal Veterinary Workforce Planning

Veterinarians across the federal government are crucial to protecting animal and public health, keeping our food safe, and responding to biological emergencies.

That’s why federal agencies need to do a better job of assessing future veterinary workforce needs, according to a recently released report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

In the report, “Federal Veterinarians: Efforts Needed to Improve Workforce Planning,” the GAO found that current or pending baby boomer retirements—combined with federal hiring freezes—make it difficult to hire for critical positions that could or should be staffed by veterinarians. For example, 43 percent of Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) veterinarians would be eligible to retire by fiscal 2018, and roughly 43 percent of the Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS) veterinary workforce could retire by fiscal 2016.

Despite a large percentage of pending or potential retirements, the report found that, for the most part, federal agencies have not planned to hire or recruit the veterinary medical workforce that will be needed in the future, or have initiated plans but failed to sufficiently follow through.

For example, the report found that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has not taken actions to ensure that component agencies include veterinarians in workforce planning efforts to meet routine needs.

In addition, to date, APHIS has not yet identified how many veterinarians it would need to fully respond to a large-scale animal disease outbreak or taken steps to ensure that veterinarians loaned from other U.S. federal agencies or international agencies have the training they need if called upon to assist in an emergency.

The Food and Drug Administration did include veterinarians in its workforce plan and its Center for Veterinary Medicine increased its workforce by 30 percent since 2006, due to a hiring surge initiative that targeted select science and medical positions, including veterinarians.

However, other agencies have not kept pace and the current veterinary medical workforce is under stress, according to the National Association of Federal Veterinarians (NAFV), which applauded the report. NAFV cited recent outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (Bird Flu), as well as new outbreaks of vesticular stomatitis, a disease of livestock that mimics Foot-and-Mouth Disease, as examples of current events that are already putting a strain on the federal government’s veterinary medical workforce.

NAFV reports that the veterinary workforce at FSIS has a 13 percent vacancy rate that “is causing severe stress and workload burdens on existing personnel in food production facilities across the nation” and says the USDA “needs to commit more effort to easing the stress on the existing personnel so that they can continue protecting our food supply.”

In the report, the GAO recommends that the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture identify the:
  • Number of types of federal veterinarians needed
  • Sources required to have a sufficient workforce to respond to needs
  • Training needed for veterinarians to carry out their roles
The report also called for the director of the Office of Personnel Management to monitor and evaluate the Talent Management Advisory Council’s (TMAC) progress toward developing government-wide goals for the federal veterinary workforce, including obtaining leadership support and evaluating whether there is a need for government-wide, direct hire authority.

The GAO developed the report in response to a request by Congressmen Kurt Schrader and Ted Yoho, co-chairs of the Veterinary Medicine Caucus, who expressed concern that the federal government lacked a complete understanding of the sufficiency of its veterinarian workforce, particularly in the event of a national emergency.

In a recent blog, the GAO recognized the important role that veterinarians play as front-line responders to animal disease outbreaks.

FDA Veterinary Feed Directive Promotes Judicious Use of Antibiotics in Food Animals

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) final rule in early June, which strengthens and specifically articulates the role of the veterinarian in approving the use of medically important antibiotics in agricultural animal feeds. The move will promote public health, animal welfare and is an important step in the process of addressing the growing antimicrobial resistance problem.

The rule advances an FDA strategy to restrict the control of antibiotics in food animals to licensed veterinarians working to assure animal health. The VFD final rule specifically outlines the process for authorizing the use of animal drugs in animal feed under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. It also provides veterinarians in all states with a framework for authorizing the use of medically important antimicrobials in feed when needed for specific animal health purposes.

The VFD final rule continues to require veterinarians to issue all VFDs within the context of a veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) and specifies the elements that define a VCPR. These key elements require that the veterinarian engage with the client to assume responsibility for making clinical judgments about the animal(s) health, have sufficient knowledge of the animal by conducting examinations and/or visits to the facility where the animal is managed, and provide for any necessary follow-up evaluation or care.

The final rule will require veterinarians to follow state-defined VCPR requirements. In states where the FDA determines that no appropriate state VCPR requirements exist, veterinarians will need to issue VFDs in compliance with federally defined VCPR requirements.

“The actions the FDA has taken to date represent important steps toward a fundamental change in how antimicrobials can be legally used in food-producing animals,” said Michael R. Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods. “The VFD final rule takes another important step by facilitating veterinary oversight in a way that allows for the flexibility needed to accommodate the diversity of circumstances that veterinarians encounter, while ensuring such oversight is conducted in accordance with nationally consistent principles.”

In December 2013, the FDA published a guidance document which calls on animal drug manufacturers of approved medically important antimicrobials that are put into water or feed of food-producing animals to voluntarily stop labeling them as drugs that can be used to promote animal growth. It also mandated that labeling be changed to require veterinary oversight when they are used for therapeutic purposes. All of the affected makers of these drugs have committed in writing to participate in the strategy.
Widespread changes in how antibiotics are used in food animals will take affect in 2017.

AAVMC Signs on to American “Innovation Imperative”

The AAVMC has joined the ranks of hundreds of organizations in business, industry, higher education, science, and engineering calling for stronger federal policies and investment in domestic research and development.

Federal government investments in basic research have been dwindling for the past 20 years and are failing to keep pace with economic competitors like China, which is expected to surpass the U.S. in R&D intensity in about eight years if present trends continue.

“Innovation: An American Imperative,” a document aimed at federal decision makers and legislators, underscores the findings contained in the recent American Academy of Arts & Sciences report, Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream.

The Restoring the Foundation report warns that “There is a deficit between what America is investing and what it should be investing to remain competitive, not only in research but in innovation and job creation.”

Substantial investments in science and engineering research are commonly viewed as underpinning the America’s ascendency during the 20th century. Basic research is behind every new product brought to market, every new medical device or drug, every new defense and space technology and many innovative business practices, according to the coalition.

The United States has fallen to 10th place in R&D investment among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP).

The diverse coalition of organizations concerned with the future of research in America who have signed on to the “Innovation Imperative” are urging federal policy-makers to:
  • End sequestration’s deep cuts to federal investments in R&D
  • Make permanent a strengthened federal R&D tax credit
  • Improve student achievement in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM)
  • Reform U.S. visa policy
  • Streamline or eliminate costly and inefficient regulations
  • Reaffirm merit-based peer review
  • Stimulate further improvements in advanced manufacturing
Click here for more information.

Academic Veterinary Medicine in the News

Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine Cancer Trials may Help Humans
Roanoke Times

While Dog Flu Threat is Widening, There's No Need to Panic
Chicago Tribune

EPA Awards Texas A&M Researchers $6 Million To Investigate Environmental Impact On Cardiac Health


Moore Named Dean of OSU College of Veterinary Medicine

The Horse

K-State Names Vet School Dean an Interim Head of Olathe Campus

The Capital-Journal

Jeff Wichtel New OVC Dean
Farm Focus

SCAVMAs in Ariz., Tenn. Receive Charters


Mouse Study: Diets High in Sugar, Fat May Impair Cognition by Changing Gut Bacteria

Psych Central

UC Davis Vet School Honored with Legislative Resolution

Veterinary Practice News

Purdue OKs Equine Research Center

Virginia Tech Vet Students Put Pets on Weight-Loss Challenge

Veterinary Practice News

Kansas State University, Texas Tech University Begin Collaborative Agreement in Beef Industry
High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal

Teenage Aspiring Veterinarians Receive Hands-on Training at Texas A&M

Bovine Veterinarian

Willmar Lab Playing Role as Poultry Industry Looks for Answers to Avian Flu
Prairie Business

Veterinarians for Large Animals in Short Supply

The Clarion-Ledger

Firefighters, Veterinary Students Team up for Large Animal Rescue Training

Columbia Daily Tribune

Purdue Program will Encourage Children to Pursue Veterinary Careers


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