September 2013

Greetings from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges

Dr. Maccabe
A burst of energy always seems to surge through academia when a new school year gets underway, and our member institutions are no exception. Here at the AAVMC, we’ve been busy this summer laying the groundwork for a number of important initiatives. We’re introducing a new, more precisely focused strategic plan, preparing for more substantial representation on the AVMA Council on Education, coordinating partnerships that advance online resources, improving legislative outreach, and much, much more. Learn about the AAVMC’s recent activities and get the latest news from academic veterinary medicine in this issue of the Vet-Med Educator.

Andrew Maccabe
AAVMC Executive Director

AAVMC Developing New, Refocused Strategic Plan

The AAVMC is developing a new strategic plan that preserves the association’s core values and mission while optimizing resources, flexibility and decisive action. The new plan preserves the organizational focus on instructional excellence, recruitment, research, diversity and one health. But it vigorously focuses on the AAVMC’s historic strengths in data collection, advocacy and catalyzing and convening to achieve them and includes highly operationalized, program-based work plans.

The result is a strategic plan that combines precise focus with a responsive operating structure that enables the organization to act quickly and effectively when faced with unanticipated developments, societal changes or new opportunities.

Association management consulting firm Harrison Coerver & Associates facilitated three meetings in early 2013 to develop the plan. Those included a meeting with the deans in January, a meeting with the board in April and a meeting with the staff in May. During the latter, AAVMC staff established detailed work plans, responsibilities and timelines for supporting the three primary operating objectives that emerged from two prior planning sessions.

Those operating objectives are:
  1. Data Generation - Acquire, analyze and add value to data that will advance scholarship and advocacy
  2. Advocacy - Strengthen advocacy and communication to increase influence with government, the profession and relevant stakeholders
  3. Catalyzing and Convening - Strengthen AAVMC’s role as facilitator and catalyst for challenges, innovation and contemporary issues
The action-oriented work plan is designed to position the AAVMC to successfully adapt to rapid change while remaining in strategic alignment with the needs of its stakeholders and its operating environment.

A key part of focusing resources on the core strengths of data, advocacy and convening/catalyzing in a way that will advance the values and mission of the AAVMC is their programmatic intersection with several overarching committees.

As part of an organizational realignment approved by the Board of Directors in 2013, the AAVMC’s internal governance structure was enhanced to include 14 operating committees. As the plan is conceived, the Academic Affairs, Research, Admissions and Recruitment, Diversity and One Health Committees embrace the core initiatives that will form an operating matrix with the action agenda.

Mission oriented goals to be achieved through the action drivers include:
  • Achieving Instructional Excellence
  • Recruiting a Qualified Workforce
  • The Importance of Diversity
  • The One Health Approach to Global Well Being
  • The Power of Discovery
Additionally, enterprise-wide values of leadership, excellence, inclusion, collaboration, transparency, adaptability and stewardship continue to inform and infuse all AAVMC program and operations.

The new blueprint also places a premium on work performance and accountability. Detailed work plans that include measurable tasks and timelines have been developed within individual program areas to achieve organizational goals.

AAVMC Elects New Officers

Dr. Kent Hoblet, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University, began his term as president of the AAVMC at the annual meeting of the AAVMC Assembly in Chicago. Dr. Hoblet, who also serves as a professor in the Department of Pathobiology and Population Medicine, has special academic interests in dairy production medicine and veterinary medicine in developing countries. Dr. Trevor Ames, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota, was elected to the office of president-elect. Learn more about the AAVMC’s new officers.

Veterinary Medicine Caucus Holds First Briefing, Debuts Website

The recently formed Veterinary Medicine Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives held its first "Hill" briefing on July 25 with a focus on workforce issues in the veterinary medical profession. The caucus looked at issues facing the profession as outlined in the AVMA’s 2013 U.S. veterinary workforce study, as well as the need to build public understanding and appreciation for veterinary medicine.

In a discussion led by Dr. Michael Dicks, director of veterinary economics for the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the caucus looked at issues facing the profession as outlined in the workforce study, including the study’s finding that more than half of veterinarians report not working at full capacity. Overall, in 2012, veterinarians reported that 12.5 percent of their capacity to provide services went unused.

Veterinary unemployment remains low, but Dix explained that flat demand, combined with increasing numbers of graduates, could create problems for the profession despite innovative approaches underway in the profession to increase demand for services. In addition, rising student debt puts economic pressure on recent graduates that impedes their ability to launch careers.

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. As explained on the caucus’ new website, “As the only two licensed veterinarians currently serving in Congress, we felt the time was ripe for the establishment of a caucus to provide a forum to keep members informed about the opportunities and challenges facing veterinary medicine and help us to increase awareness of the importance of veterinary medicine on research, public health, animal health and welfare, food safety, and our overall economy.” View the site.

Collaborative Online Education Project Makes Significant Progress

Online teaching is shaking up the world of education with Massive, Open, Online Courses (MOOCs), online academies and new platforms that transcend traditional teaching modes. A picture is beginning to emerge of what the future might look like for academic veterinary medicine as member institutions join forces to create online courses that teach entry-level surgical skills. 

A pilot project to create shareable, online education modules for academic veterinary medicine is making progress with the completion, testing and initial implementation of a first module that teaches the basic handling of surgical instruments. The “Core Surgical Skills: Basic Instrument Handling” module, now in use at five CVMs, is envisioned as the first of ten modules dedicated to teaching veterinary students the fundamental skills necessary to perform any entry-level surgical procedure.

The online education project is a joint effort of colleges of veterinary medicine at Texas A&M University, Colorado State and The Ohio State Universities, under the auspices of Texas A&M’s Center for Educational Technologies, where team members work hand-in-hand with faculty and veterinarians from around the world to design, develop, and deliver world-class instructional materials.

After receiving positive feedback from students and surgical faculty during pilot testing, the “Basic Instrument Handling” module is now being implemented into the CVM curricula at the three partner institutions, as well as at Virginia-Maryland and the University of California, Davis.

“Numerous other CVMs are in the process of evaluating the course right now for potential use in their curricula and we are currently working on module 2 which we hope to release in early 2014,”  said Dr. Jodi Korich, clinical assistant professor and director of The Center for Educational Technologies at Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “As part of this project, we are gathering assessment data to measure educational outcomes and tracking income and expenses associated with developing and hosting the content for other universities.”

Testing and launching of the online course required the creation of a three-way institutional partnership agreement with revenues from sales being reinvested back into the development of new modules, as well as development of license agreements for colleges that wish to use the software.

“I am very excited about this project as I think it can serve as a model for the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium (NAVMEC) online course sharing effort,” Korich said.  In 2011, NAVMEC issued a report, “Roadmap for Veterinary Medical Education in the 21st Century: Responsive, Collaborative, Flexible,” that contained 23 recommendations, including the recommendation that the AAVMC facilitate “the development and maintenance of an inventory of shareable educational resources.”

Historic Changes in AVMA-COE Composition Create More Academic Representation

The AAVMC will have more representation on the AVMA Council on Education following a July 19 vote by the AVMA House of Delegates to change the COE’s structure and some operations. Members of the COE will now be appointed by the AAVMC and AVMA instead of being elected by the AVMA House of Delegates. In addition, site visits to institutions seeking accreditation or reaccreditation will now be conducted by individuals who are not current members of the COE.

The AAVMC board has established a selection committee and a process to identify the eight AAVMC members that will be appointed to the newly restructured COE, which will also include eight members appointed by the AVMA. A request for volunteers to serve on this selection committee has been sent to institutional members. 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.

The board also considered proposed changes to COE Standard 11 that increase metrics associated with outcomes assessment. The changes were made as a result of recommendations made by the United States Department of Education (USDE) to enhance the accreditation process.

Dr. Sheila Allen, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia and chair of the COE, provided important leadership for the council throughout this historic process.

Learn about this and other news that transpired at the recent AAVMC Meeting of the Assembly in Chicago.

Workforce Debate, Glance into Crystal Ball Highlight Banfield Summit

A riveting “presidential style” debate concerning capacity and demand in veterinary medicine and a renowned futurist seeing good things for veterinary medicine highlighted the Banfield Pet Hospital’s 2013 Pet Healthcare Industry Summit in Portland, Oregon. 

The annual event attracted about 165 leaders from different sectors of the profession, including academia, business, government and the organized veterinary medical and animal welfare communities.

Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, and Indiana-based private practitioner Dr. Mike Thomas passionately articulated their positions concerning the profession’s highly publicized workforce issue during an afternoon debate moderated by DVM360 NewsMagazine Editor Kristi Reimer.

“I feel strongly that we need to focus on demand, not supply,” said Green, who also questioned the empirical credibility of aspects of the AVMA’s recent workforce study because of a lack of necessary data. “There is no over-supply of veterinarians. There is, however, an under-demand.”

Green argued that markets control workplace opportunities and educational choices. Veterinary medicine should focus on serving societal needs, work to expand the horizons of the profession and build greater demand, she said. 

“No one ever shrank themselves to greatness, nor will we,” she said.

Thomas, a noted leader in the organized veterinary medical community, was resolute in his opinion that there are simply too many veterinarians and too many being trained. 

“I love your rose-colored glasses,” quipped Thomas, saying that 53 percent of veterinary practices are operating under capacity and sharing dramatic stories of economic hardship and failure in the profession. He assailed academic veterinary medicine for producing more veterinarians than are needed. 

Following the lively debate, members of the audience were invited to share questions and comments.

New York Times best-selling author and futurist Daniel Burrus predicted exciting things for veterinary medicine in the years ahead and said he would love to get into the “business.” People can prepare themselves with the “flash of foresight” by examining hard trends like demographics, technology, and regulation. “Digital accelerators” will continuously increase the rate of change and he predicted the next five years will completely transform the way we communicate, educate, sell, and work.

“If it can be done it will be done and if you don’t do it someone else will,” he said

Technology will be transformational in the profession, he said, envisioning an era of “virtual ER’s” for pets, remote diagnostics and bio-printing custom designed tissues and therapeutic devices from enterprise systems like He suggested the audience “give people the ability to do what they currently don’t do but would want to do if they only knew they could.”

The Banfield Pet Health Summit is an annual event that brings together a variety of leaders in veterinary medicine to discuss change and opportunity in the profession.

AAVMC Representatives Join AVMA Working Group on Career Opportunities

Responding to recent workforce issues in veterinary medicine, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) created the Working Group on Veterinary Medical Career Opportunities and Awareness. The group seeks to attract talented students and inform them about the broad array of professional opportunities available in veterinary medicine.

The AAVMC’s Executive Committee recently appointed two AAVMC representatives to join the group. They are Dr. Sandra San Miguel, associate dean for engagement and professor of veterinary clinical sciences at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Ronald K. Cott, associate dean for student and alumni affairs at the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

The group’s purpose is to:
  • Identify the best strategic approach to attract science-minded individuals with the skills, knowledge, and aptitude to succeed in the veterinary medical profession, at a time when affordability of veterinary medical education and future earnings may be a deterrent to potential candidates for admission to veterinary colleges
  • Examine the feasibility of providing information to young people who are interested in science and may be interested in veterinary medicine
  • Determine the best way to inform potential pre-veterinary students about the variety of opportunities available in veterinary medicine, as well some challenges.
For the past four years, Dr. Miguel led a team that is developing, delivering and assessing STEM programming for elementary, middle, and high school students. The program, “Fat Dogs and Coughing Horses: Animal Contributions towards a Healthier Citizenry,” aims to excite and recruit K-12 schoolchildren. The program is funded by the National Institutes of Health Science and Education Partnership.

“I am passionate about development of a diverse pipeline of veterinary professionals,” wrote Dr. Miguel. “I feel that my experience, knowledge of the literature, and research in this area would enable me to make positive contributions to this working group.”

Dr. Cott believes that it is “fitting and timely” that organized veterinary medicine address these issues at this time. “It is imperative that we do a better job of informing those that are interested in our profession that there are numerous avenues one can take post-graduation that are rewarding and advantageous as a career opportunity,” he wrote. “It is our responsibility to do a better job of informing the interested pre-vet student about the global nature of this profession and the many ways a veterinarian can have an impact on societal needs.”

NAVMEC Lives on in Modern AAVMC Programs, Initiatives

The good works envisioned as part of the NAVMEC program live on and continue to enrich the profession.

Members and guests attending the Annual Assembly Meeting in Chicago heard a presentation from AAVMC Senior Communications Consultant Jeff Douglas concerning a variety of AAVMC programs and initiatives under way in the profession that  resonate with the NAVMEC program. Examples were shared with the audience that relate to NAVMEC recommendations concerning core competencies, admissions, sharing educational resources, fostering an economically viable profession, and innovation and flexibility. To view these in more detail, please click here.

The "Roadmap for Veterinary Medical Education in the 21st Century: Responsive, Collaborative, Flexible” report and recommendations plan produced as a result of the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium was one of the comprehensive and profound change processes in the history of the profession.

Sponsored by major organizations and corporations in the profession and involving the work of hundreds of stakeholders, the process sought to create a vision and a working plan for veterinary education that would strengthen the profession and help it rise to the levels of performance required by 21st century society.

The NAVMEC board no longer exists; the program has completed its work and has been sunset.

Merial-NIH Veterinary Scholars Symposium Nurtures Research Careers

Veterinarians play a major role in basic and applied research. Encouraging veterinary students to consider these careers is an important part of broadening the profession’s reach and contributions.

The Merial-NIH Veterinary Scholars Symposium, co-sponsored by the AAVMC, is designed to unite outstanding scientists and veterinary students in mentored research experiences that advance scientific frontiers and inspire students.

The most recent symposium, held in July at Michigan State University, addressed “Comparative Medicine: Meeting Global Needs” and featured Sanofi Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Gary Nabel as the keynote speaker on the topic of “Designing Tomorrow’s Vaccine: Lessons from Influenza and HIV.”

This year’s symposium, organized by Dr. Vilma Yuzbasiyan-Gurkan, director of student research programs at MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, is the culmination of the Merial Veterinary Scholars Program, whose mission is to expose veterinary students in their first or second year of veterinary school to biomedical research and career opportunities in research.

At the symposium, veterinary students present their research findings and share experiences from their various programs. The symposium includes presentations by and networking opportunities with invited veterinary scientists, researchers and faculty members.

Featured presentations included “Retinal Gene Therapy: Dogs Lead the Way,” “Emergence and Spread of Pathogens: What can we learn from birds?” and “The Ecology of Lyme Disease.”

“The AAVMC is proud to co-sponsor this important event,” said AAVMC Executive Director Dr. Andrew Maccabe. “The comparative education that veterinary medical students receive provides a foundation like no other. It’s the ideal preparation for research careers that can benefit from a holistic, inter-species perspective.”

Primary Care Veterinary Educators (PCVE) to Hold World Symposium

The Primary Care Veterinary Educators (PCVE) will present a World Symposium, Oct. 17-20, 2013, at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. One designated representative from each AAVMC international and U.S. veterinary college or school will be provided registration and accommodation at no charge plus travel and transportation up to $750 (e.g. airfare, mileage, shuttle) to attend the meeting.

The PCVE is a group of veterinary college faculty members that are working to develop high-quality primary care instructional programming and clinical training experiences for veterinary students. The group is part of the AAVMC and is structured within its Academic Affairs Committee.

Symposium sponsors – the AAVMC, Merial and Partners for Healthy Pets – will provide for the registration and accommodations for sponsored attendees. Additional AAVMC representatives and non-AAVMC attendees are welcome; however, they will be responsible for covering their own registration fees, accommodation and transportation. Registration fees will be: $50 for additional AAVMC representatives and $350 for non-AAVMC attendees.

General registration closes on September 26th. Travel arrangements for sponsored registrants must be made by September 6th. Register here.

“Twinning” Project Builds International Quality in Veterinary Education

The University of Minnesota (USA) and Chiang Mai University (Thailand) are engaged in the first twinning project operated by  the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) Veterinary Education Twinning Programme. As “twins,” the universities will share knowledge, ideas, and experience to help ensure that member countries develop modern educational facilities and methods, based on accepted international standards.

The project aims to ensure that graduates meet the OIE Recommendations on the Competencies of Graduating Veterinarians (‘Day 1 Graduates’), and their compliance with OIE international recommendations.

“Thanks to this OIE Twinning Programme, we are looking forward to improve our capacity so as to be recognized as a high-quality veterinary institution within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations,” said Associate Professor Lertrak Srikitjakarn, dean of the faculty of veterinary medicine, Chiang Mai University.

“Partnering with Chiang Mai University on this OIE veterinary education twinning project will benefit us both as we strive to enhance the capacity of our veterinary graduates to support the control of transboundary diseases and zoonoses and strengthen the official veterinary services of our countries,” said Dr. Trevor Ames, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota.  Learn more.

CVM Deans Honored for Contributions to Diversity and Inclusion

Dr. James W. Lloyd, dean of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Deborah Kochevar, dean of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, were recently honored for their leadership in advocating for diversity and inclusion within the veterinary profession.

The Lesbian and Gay Veterinary Medical Association presented 2013 Leadership Awards to Lloyd and Kochevar during the group’s annual meeting, held in conjunction with the American Veterinary Medical Association’s convention in Chicago.

Both deans were recognized for their roles in advocacy for cultural competency and inclusion in the veterinary field, and for dedicating personal time and resources to help include LGBT issues in the greater discussion of diversity.

The association fosters acceptance, inclusivity and leadership for all members of the veterinary profession, whether veterinarians, technicians or students, of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Nominations Open for Unsung Heroes of Public Health

Do you know someone in public health veterinary medicine who is worthy of special recognition? If so, consider nominating them for an “Unsung Heroes of Public Health” award, sponsored by the Campaign for Public Health Foundation. Learn more.

Academic Veterinary Medicine in the News

AU Researcher Develops Bone Cancer Therapy for Dogs
It's All in Your Head
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UGA Lab Plays Key Role in Identifying Dolphin Virus
Online Athens Banner Herald
Online Program Teaches Veterinarians Small Business Basics
Bovine Veterinarian

Texas A&M Students Get Hands-on Experience in Shelter Medicine
DVM 360
Interdisciplinary Cooperation Hopes to Achieve One Health
Drovers Cattle Network
Antibiotic Use on the Farm: Are We Flying Blind?
Wyoming Public Media
Bayer Invests in New Veterinary Research Facility
Voxy (New Zealand)
Experts Suggest Changes for Zoo's Elephants
The Seattle Times