August 2017

Nelson Installed as AAVMC President, U.S. Deans Gather
During Summer Meeting

From left: Past-President Dr. Douglas Freeman, dean of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan; President Dr. Phillip Nelson, dean of the Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine; and President-Elect Dr Calvin M. Johnson, dean of the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.

New AAVMC leadership was installed, issues in academic veterinary medicine were considered and briefings were provided by top veterinary medical officials from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) during the AAVMC’s summer meeting in Indianapolis.

Dr. Phillip Nelson, dean of the Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine in Pomona, California, assumed the presidency of the AAVMC; Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Dr. Calvin M. Johnson assumed the duties of president-elect; and Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan Dean Dr. Douglas A. Freeman transitioned to the immediate past-president position. University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine Dean Dr. Mark Markel continues as treasurer, and North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Dr. Paul Lunn was named secretary.

President Nelson earned his DVM degree from the Tuskegee Institute in 1979 and his PhD in immunology and biotechnology from North Carolina State University in 1993. He earned his BS from Jackson State University. Prior to assuming the deanship of the Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine in 2007, he served the school as Executive Associate Dean for the Pre-clinical Program. Before that, he was head of the Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery at Tuskegee University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and he served as Associate Dean at the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine for 11 years.

Nelson has been active with the AAVMC for several years and chaired the Advocacy Committee.

President-elect Johnson earned his DVM from the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1986 and his PhD in pathology and biotechnology from North Carolina State University in 1992. He achieved board certification in anatomic pathology from the American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP) in 1993. Prior to his appointment as dean in 2013. Dr. Johnson served on the faculty of the University of Florida for 11 years before returning to Auburn where he led the Department of Pathobiology and served a year as acting dean.

New at-large board members include Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Dr. Susan Tornquist, Region 1 (U.S.); University of Melbourne School of Veterinary Medicine Head Dr. Ted Whittem, Region III (Australia, New Zealand, Asia); and Pennsylvania State University Assistant Professor of Comparative Medicine Dr. Tiffany Whitcomb, representing departments of comparative medicine.

New board liaisons (non-voting) include Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Dr. Bryan Slinker, representing the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU); and Mr. Aaron Colwell, representing the Student American Veterinary Medical Association.

All of the appointments will be slightly truncated during this transition year as the AAVMC formally moves its annual Assembly from the former summer meeting to the annual meeting, which is typically held in early March.

AAVMC Senior Accreditation Director Dr. Sheila Allen presented an update on Council on Education (COE) activities for members that included recent and proposed revisions in the COE standards, data harmonization, a new Accreditation Management System and COE financial support. A more detailed communication on her presentation will be sent to member institutions soon.

University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine
Dean Dr. James Thompson discussed strategies for dealing with veterinary specialty colleges that have decided to impose residency program registration fees on academic institutions that operate residency training programs. The AAVMC is opposed to the imposition of these fees and has communicated their position to any specialty colleges that have attempted to levy the fees. The group also discussed AAVMC policy development regarding states that enact discriminatory legislation and policies.

Dr. Solomon
Food & Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA-CVM) Director Dr. Steve Solomon presented a broad-ranging overview and update on FDA-CVM’s operations. The center is working diligently on the antimicrobial resistance issue, he said, and suggested that even though antibiotic use in agricultural animals and over-prescription and patient non-compliance on the human side are believed to be the major causes, much of the money appropriated to study the issue seems to be focused on the human medical side of the problem.

He said he’d like to see more cancer drugs developed for use in animals (and people) and that the five-year “conditional approval” process provides opportunities for investigation and clinical trials which are much faster than the human side.

Solomon said FDA-CVM employs about 130 veterinarians and other divisions within the FDA employ about 70 more. Students from AAVMC member institutions frequently conduct fourth-year rotations at the FDA and gain important experience and insights regarding public practice.

Dr. Shere
USDA Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Jack Shere also presented an overview of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) program. Shere discussed containment measures and costs associated with various outbreaks of high-pathogenic avian influenza in the United States, and stressed the importance of extreme vigilance and maintaining sophisticated disease, surveillance, and rapid response programs.

Vast amounts of the nation’s $100 billion animal agriculture industry is export based, he said, and disease induced interruptions in trade would be economically catastrophic. If Food and Mouth Disease (FMD) were to show up in the United States, he said, it would cost $80-90 billion “just to get started” with containment and remediation measures.

Shere said opportunities exist for graduates with the USDA, but in his view, the colleges are not producing enough well-trained graduates to meet the USDA’s needs. Shere said the number of veterinarians in the USDA dropped from 5,553 to 5,040 from 1998-2009, and that in 2010, half of the USDA veterinary force was over 50. He said the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) currently has about 75 openings and there are not enough qualified veterinarians to staff the vacancies.

AAVMC Institutional Research Examines Scholarship Support

Creating more financial support for veterinary medical students through scholarships is one approach for reducing the debt-to-income ratio for recent graduates. That currently hovers around 2:1 and various organizations participating in the “Fix-the-Debt” initiative agree that a healthy target is 1.4:1. But recent research suggests there’s work to be done.

For decades, AAVMC member institutions have operated fund-raising programs designed to solicit institutional support from philanthropic and non-public sources such as private donors, corporations and foundations, and those programs are becoming more sophisticated every year. Private support is an essential part of the operating resource mix which is largely based upon tuition revenues and some state government assistance.

Having good baseline data is an important first step for achieving strategic growth and development in this vital area. The AAVMC used to collect scholarship data in the annual Comparative Data Report (CDR), but that practice was discontinued several years ago.

However, in 2015, AAVMC Senior Director for Institutional Research and Diversity Dr. Lisa Greenhill conducted a survey of scholarship resources and distributions, and that survey was repeated in 2017. Comparative results demonstrate relatively static trend-lines during a time when substantial growth is needed.

Total endowment value for all AAVMC member institutions slightly decreased from $1,255,670,723 in 2015 (adjusted for inflation) and $1,251,396,425 in 2017. 

The research demonstrated that the total amount of DVM students receiving aid increased slightly from 46% to 47% between the 2015 and 2017 data samples. The percentage of first year DVM students receiving aid increased slightly from 40% to 41%.

The average amount of total scholarship aid awarded for all DVM students increased from $5,488 to $5,774, but the average award for all first year DVM students decreased from $5,536 to $5,417.

Most AAVMC member institutions are increasing efforts to develop more scholarship resources for students. For example, the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine recently announced that two years following the launch of the Veterinary Access Scholarship Program they had doubled the amount of scholarship dollars awarded every year.

The AAVMC’s Board of Directors decided to move forward with the creation of an AAVMC Excellence in Scholarship Fundraising Award during its summer meeting. While plans for that program are still in development, the goal is to inspire increased effort and performance in this vital area at the institutional level.

New Council on Education (COE) Officers Elected

Dr. Farrell
Dr. Zeiss

Dr. Johnston
Dr. Han
Council on Education (COE) members recently elected new officers for 2017-2018.

They are Chair, Dr. Patrick Farrell, a mixed animal private practitioner who owns two animal hospitals in western Pennsylvania and New York; Vice Chair, Dr. Caroline Zeiss, a professor at the Yale University School of Medicine; Chair of Evaluation Committee, Dr. Spencer Johnston, a professor at the University of Georgia; and Academic Affairs Committee Chair Dr. Heeyoung Han, an assistant professor at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

As chair, Dr. Farrell presides over all meetings and serves as the COE’s spokesperson. He earned his veterinary medical degree from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine's (SVM) charter class in 1987, and he also earned a master's degree in reproductive physiology and endocrinology from UW.

As vice chair, Dr. Zeiss fills in as chair when required. Dr Zeiss is a professor of comparative medicine at Yale, where she directs the Yale Mouse Research Pathology Core. She is a diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Pathologists and the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine. She earned her veterinary medical degree from the University of Pretoria in South Africa and her doctorate from Cornell University.

As evaluation committee chair, Dr. Johnston oversees that committee's work, including selecting site visitors, conducting training for site visitors, assigning site visitors, and making policy recommendations to the council. Dr. Johnston, who is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), heads the Department of Small Animal Medicine & Surgery at the University of Georgia. He earned his VMD from the University of Pennsylvania, conducted a small animal internship at the University of Georgia, and completed his surgical residency at Michigan State University.

The academic affairs committee chair, Dr. Heeyoung Han, will oversee the work of that committee in reviewing standards and making recommendations for revision of standards to the council. Dr. Han earned a doctorate in human resource education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a master’s degree in in educational technology from Ewha Womans University in South Korea.

COE terms began during the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Convention this July and will end during the next convention in July 2018.

AAVMC Affiliate Status Granted to United Arab Emirates University

The United Arab Emirates University Veterinary Medicine Department is the AAVMC’s newest affiliate. Situated within the college of Food and Agriculture on the university’s Al Ain campus, the training program which leads to a degree in veterinary medicine was established in 2013.

Founded in 1976 by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, UAEU is a comprehensive, research-intensive university which currently enrolls about 14,000 Emirati and international students. UAEU offers graduate and undergraduate programs through nine Colleges: Business and Economics, Education, Engineering, Food and Agriculture Humanities and Social Sciences, IT Law, Medicine and Health Sciences, and Science.

Affiliate status is available to colleges and schools of veterinary medicine that are planning to seek Council on Education accreditation, or to departments of veterinary science and comparative medicine. 

Affiliate membership in the AAVMC provides institutions with a variety of benefits, including access to important data and analytics, meetings and events, advocacy and international engagement programs.

AAVMC Senior Leadership Attends North American Veterinary Leadership Meeting

NAVLM representatives pose for group photo.
AAVMC representatives met July 26 with other leaders from veterinary associations throughout North America at the annual North American Veterinary Leadership Meeting (NAVLM) in French Lick, Indiana.

Chief Executive Officer Dr. Andrew Maccabe and President Dr. Phillip Nelson, dean of the Western University of the Health Sciences’ College of Veterinary Medicine, presented remarks concerning AAVMC programs and issues in academic veterinary medicine.

NAVLM includes the leadership of national veterinary associations in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. The organization’s goal is to consider issues and address challenges and opportunities facing the veterinary profession in North America.

Issues addressed included companion and food animal welfare, antimicrobial resistance, education, wellness in the veterinary profession and greater inter-association engagement. The group also reviewed their joint position statement on horse slaughter for continued relevancy and currency.

Each of the organized veterinary medical associations and educational associations, as well as groups like the Canadian National Examining Board and the Pan American Association of Veterinary Sciences, presented updates during the meeting.

CIVME Advancing International Engagement

Little more than a year after being created to foster best practices in international academic veterinary medicine, the AAVMC’s Council on International Veterinary Medical Education (CIVME) program is building momentum.

CIVME is led by a group of international educators representing eight global regions (please see graphic) linked by monthly calls, digital communication and periodic meetings. So far, the group has worked on developing a strategic plan, published a quarterly newsletter, and awarded micro-grants to support investigations into shelter medicine and aquaculture. A recent survey gathered data on accreditation standards in various regions and perceptions regarding issues and challenges in veterinary medicine.

Goals for the future include increasing the impact of their programs and the visibility of their contributions, according to the AAVMC’s Tony Wynne, who provides staff support for the group. They also hope to increase the number and size of the grants they award, develop tools and resources for members, and collaborate more fully with other international organizations.

The group is also working to help international students learn more about opportunities to pursue a DVM degree in U.S. institutions, according to Wynne. 11 U.S. members currently accept international applicants, according to Wynne, and applicants represent more than 40 different countries.

The group has met in Washington, D.C. and London and plans to meet in Mexico City this November.

AAVMC Collaborates with AAMC on Student Internship Program

From left: Kemoni Moore, Dr. Lisa Greenhill, Demoni Knight
Opportunities for interprofessional education and collaboration made possible by the move to 655 K Street keep on surfacing. The most recent example: two Washington D.C. high school students participating in an Association of American Medical Colleges’ internship experience got a taste of veterinary medicine as part of the process.

The AAVMC was invited to collaborate with the AAMC on the internship, which is offered through the District of Columbia’s Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program. It’s designed to allow students to see firsthand how various organizations contribute to improving health locally.

The AAVMC’s Senior Director for Institutional Research and Diversity Dr. Lisa Greenhill worked with the AAMC to host the students, who are both rising juniors from D.C.’s Friendship Collegiate Academy.

“Having Kemoni and Demoni spend some time in our office was a great opportunity to showcase the breadth and scope of the profession,” said Greenhill. “AAMC’s willingness to help us provide this experience to these students is an important example of our interprofessional efforts to expose students to a variety of health professions careers.” 

The internship program aligns with both the AAVMC’s and AAMC’s missions to advance diversity and inclusion by inspiring young people from underrepresented groups to pursue medical careers.

Student Kemoni Moore, who describes herself as passionate about animals, wants to become a veterinarian and Demoni Knight is thinking about dentistry.

Over the course of several days, Greenhill arranged for the students to watch diversity-related podcasts and glean inspiration by video chatting with several veterinarians of color who have enjoyed diverse veterinary careers.

She also scheduled a chat with Dr. Jacque Pelzer from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine to talk about how to prepare for professional school.

Greenhill creatively introduced the students to her personal passion of data analysis with a “meme contest” that helped them to contextualize the AAVMC’s applicant research data and created a data scavenger hunt to help them learn how to read charts and graphs.

APLU Launches Video for Campaign

The APLU’s Board on Agriculture Assembly’s budget and advocacy committee has launched the "Redefining American Agriculture for the 21st Century" video as part of efforts to market the nation’s Land-Grant university system and increase federal support.

Helping policymakers and the public understand the complexion of modern agriculture and the key role it plays in nourishing and protecting a healthy society is key to the AgAction campaign. The video highlights the role of science, technology and innovation in agriculture.

The portal makes it easy for supporters to write to members of Congress and urge support for APLU's request of a $200 million increase in the National Institute of Food and Agriculture's capacity programs and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

The AAVMC works closely with the APLU on several issues and programs.

Academic Veterinary Medicine in the News

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Bovine Veterinarian

Salaries, Debt Increase Slightly for New Graduates


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Oregon Vet School Students Head to Nicaragua
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UNCP to Offer Pathway to Tuskegee University’s Veterinary School

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From Our Members

Response Team Deployed to Leflore County Crash Site

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LMU Veterinary Students Begin First Clinical Rotations

People in Motion

Dr. William Dernell has been named associate dean for student and academic affairs at the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, succeeding Dr. Douglas Jasmer.

Dr. Elizabeth Johnson has replaced Dr. Casey Bassett as assistant dean of student success at the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine.

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