From the AVMA
Executive Board approves research, education recommendations
The AVMA Executive Board approved a number of recommendations at its meeting June 8-10. Dr. Robert E. “Bud” Hertzog, District VII, chaired the meeting, which was held in Schaumburg, Ill. The board authorized $26,922 from the contingency fund and $2.31 million from the reserve fund.
One key highlight was the board's approval to provide $200,000 from reserves to support a National Academy of Sciences study on assessing current and future work-force needs in veterinary medicine. The study would provide the necessary impartial data needed to support funding of the Veterinary Workforce Expansion Act (S. 914/H.R. 2206), according to the AVMA/Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges Joint Committee, which submitted the recommendation.
The AVMA supported the 2005 NAS study titled “Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Medicine,” which concluded, among other things, that “additional veterinary researchers must be trained to alleviate the demands and to meet the societal needs for veterinary research.” Other critical areas such as public practice were not addressed in the 2005 study, the committee reported.
Another highlight was the board's approval of strategic goals for the AVMA's five critical issues. The board initially identified the critical issues— animal welfare, economic viability, veterinary workforce, veterinary education, and veterinary services—at its November 2004 meeting.
Some goals identified are, under animal welfare, that the AVMA is the leading advocate for, and the authoritative, science-based resource on animal welfare, and has definitive core values and principles to guide policy development for animal welfare. Under veterinary workforce, the board will work to see that critical workforce shortages and global societal needs are identified and solutions developed in collaboration with key stakeholders.
When considering economic viability, one of the board's goals is to ensure that critical veterinary research is adequately funded by government and/or private resources. Another goal is that veterinarians and the public are fully educated to understand the implications of a change in the legal status of animals.
Under veterinary education, one of the board's goals is for robust support of veterinary medical education through public policy and other efforts. And under veterinary services, the board will strive for the AVMA to be a committed leader in legislative advocacy. It will also work to identify and respond to veterinary issues in a timely manner.
Also at the meeting, the board approved a number of recommendations related to education.
As recommended by the AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities, the board approved recognizing the accreditation process for Canadian veterinary technology programs administered by the CVMA's Animal Health Technologist/Veterinary Technician Program Accreditation Committee as equivalent to the CVTEA accreditation process. This recognition is contingent upon the CVMA's reciprocal recognition of the CVTEA accreditation process.
Currently, most states that have formal recognition processes for veterinary technicians require graduation from an AVMA-accredited program. The Executive Board and CVMA actions will result in state and provincial entities responsible for credentialing veterinary technicians being informed that the AVMA and the CVMA encourage recognition of graduates of programs accredited by either the AVMA or the CVMA as being license-eligible.
The board then approved adding a position to the CVTEA representing the Canadian committee. In turn, the Canadian committee will add a CVTEA member.
A symposium on Veterinary Teaching Hospitals and the Future of Clinical Veterinary Education, running Nov. 9-11 in Kansas City, will receive $3,000 in support from the AVMA. A task force on teaching hospitals is working through the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges and the Association of Veterinary Clinicians in planning the meeting to address issues facing clinical education—particularly staff shortages arising at colleges as more specialists enter private practice.
On recommendation from the AVMA/AAVMC Joint Committee, the board approved funding to support the Global Initiatives in Veterinary Education program at the level of $5,000 each year for three years, beginning in 2006. Organized by the AAVMC, the GIVE program assists veterinary colleges in developing countries by strengthening their curricula and human resource capabilities. The AVMA funding will help with the ongoing costs of developing, implementing, and administering the program, according to the committee.
AVMA Executive Vice President Little announces target retirement date
AVMA Executive Vice President Bruce W. Little has announced his plan to retire from the Association on Dec. 31, 2007. Executive Board Chair Robert E. “Bud” Hertzog accepted Dr. Little's letter of intent during the board's June 8-10 meeting.
“We are fortunate that, as a direct result of Dr. Little's effective leadership, AVMA is in a strong position,” Dr. Hertzog said. “The thoughtful timing of Dr. Little's announcement provides us with a workable timetable that allows ample time to select the best possible successor and ensure a seamless transition.
“What Dr. Little has accomplished while at the helm of the AVMA has been phenomenal. Over the past decade, he has overseen a continued increase in membership, strengthened the Association's finances, and developed a skilled and talented staff.”
The process for hiring the next executive vice president will include a broad-based search conducted by a search committee that will work with the AVMA's human resources director. A representative of the Executive Board will chair the committee, which will consist of a representative of the House of Delegates and three members selected at large.
Dr. Little joined the AVMA in 1985 and was promoted to assistant executive vice president in 1986. In January 1996, he was named executive vice president.
Under Dr. Little's leadership, AVMA membership has grown 27.6 percent— from 57,603 members to 73,603 members. During that time period, the AVMA experienced a 42 percent increase in staff, bringing the ratio of staff to members closer in line with that of other major, national associations.
Dr. Little has seen the Association's assets more than double since he assumed the executive vice president position, growing from $19 million in 1996 to $41.6 million today. During his tenure, an average of $1.3 million was invested annually in the AVMA's reserve funds.
He was instrumental in the profitable sale of the AVMA's original, single-story Schaumburg building and the subsequent purchase of the current, five-story headquarters building. AVMA visibility in Washington, D.C., has been dramatically heightened with the purchase and renovation of two adjoining townhouses in the heart of the nation's capital. The building houses the AVMA Governmental Relations Division and provides a meeting place for a wide variety of governmental, regulatory, and association leaders.
“I am tremendously proud of the growth of AVMA's assets, outreach and direction,” Dr. Little said. “No one individual can run an association of this magnitude by themselves. I am, perhaps, most proud of being able to hire and retain an outstanding group of people who are recognized as the foremost leaders in their areas of expertise.”
Under Dr. Little's leadership, the AVMA has created stand-alone Scientific Activities and Animal Welfare divisions, created the AVMA's first Human Resources Department to ensure that the AVMA has sound and legally compliant personnel policies and practices, orchestrated a partnership to develop the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues, expanded the AVMA Communications Division, and fostered the development of a State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Department.
Dr. James E. Nave, AVMA past president, said of Dr. Little, “He has done a wonderful job as the executive vice president and has always put the AVMA first, as evidenced by the long lead time he is giving the Executive Board to provide for a smooth transition.”
2006-2007 AVMA Fellows announced
The AVMA has selected Drs. Sarah Babcock, Heather Case, and Lloyd Keck as the 2006-2007 AVMA Fellows.
As AVMA Congressional Science Fellows, Drs. Case and Keck will serve as congressional staff in either a representative's or senator's personal office or in a committee office. Dr. Babcock will be the second AVMA Executive Branch Fellow to work in the Department of Homeland Security's Biological Countermeasures Portfolio.
Dr. Babcock has a law degree and has spent her career bridging the gap between veterinary medicine and law. She currently serves on the board of the American Veterinary Medical Law Association. Dr. Babcock is a 2004 Michigan State graduate.
Dr. Case brings disaster preparedness experience to Congress, as she was deployed three times with an AVMA Veterinary Medical Assistance Team to Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Dr. Case, who is completing a master's degree in public health, is active in state politics as a board member of the Minnesota VMA. Dr. Case is a 1998 graduate of the University of Minnesota.
Dr. Keck is a board-certified poultry veterinarian and owner of Keck & Associates Inc., a poultry management and technical services consulting service, as well as president of Avian Performance Standards Inc. He is past president of the Arkansas Poultry Veterinarians Association and a 1982 graduate of Louisiana State University.
The AVMA fellowships allow participating members the opportunity to help develop national policy and write legislation and regulations affecting the veterinary profession. Fellows spend one year in Washington, beginning at the end of August; they receive a stipend of $65,000 plus expenses for reimbursable items. The opportunity to serve in a congressional office or the Department of Homeland Security is made possible by donations from AVMA constituent organizations and members.
Candidates must be AVMA members and U.S. citizens to qualify. For more information about the program and the criteria, or to apply for a fellowship, contact Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, AVMA Governmental Relations Division director, at (800) 321-1473, Ext. 3205, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ECFVG seeks question writers for new examination
The AVMA Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates is seeking veterinarians to write questions for a new version of its examination of knowledge of basic and clinical veterinary sciences.
An examination of knowledge is the third of four steps in the ECFVG certification program for graduates of veterinary colleges without AVMA accreditation.
Question writing begins this fall with a workshop by Thomson Prometric, the new provider of testing and assessment services for the ECFVG, at AVMA headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill. The ECFVG will cover all travel expenses for question writers.
The input of veterinarians with a broad knowledge base—including those in private practice, public practice, and academia—is an essential element in creating the best possible ECFVG step 3 examination.
Veterinarians who would like to serve as question writers, or who wish to nominate a colleague to serve, should submit their name or their colleague's name, specific practice or teaching areas, and contact information—including a daytime telephone number and e-mail address— to ECFVG, Attn: Annie Liu, Testing Coordinator, 1931 N. Meacham Road, Suite 100, Schaumburg, IL 601734360. Veterinarians may also submit nominations by e-mail to email@example.com.
More information about the ECFVG program is available at www.avma.org/education/ecfvg/default.asp.
News of the Profession
Teaching hospitals short on specialists
As veterinary specialists leave academia for practice, teaching hospitals are struggling to provide some parts of clinical education to students as well as residents—the next generation of specialists.
Hospital directors and department heads discussed the issue this spring during the annual meeting of the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians. The AAVC and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges will host a symposium this fall on “Veterinary Teaching Hospitals and the Future of Clinical Veterinary Education.”
“The growth in the clinical specialties, and the demand for those services in the private sector, has driven a market that brings into question the sustainability of our current teaching hospitals,” said Dr. Cecil Moore, president of the AAVC.
Dr. Moore, also chair of the University of Missouri-Columbia Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, said part of the problem is that universities don't pay specialists the same salary as they can earn at private practices—especially at state schools where revenues aren't keeping up with expenses.
Dr. John A.E. Hubbell, a professor at The Ohio State University in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, said pet owners are willing to spend the extra money to take their animals to specialists. But a specialty practice in town might be more convenient for clients than the university teaching hospital. The result is the teaching hospital loses some of its caseload as well as faculty.
“There's a great concern among colleges of veterinary medicine about maintaining the veterinary teaching hospitals as centers for learning and research,” Dr. Hubbell said.
The AAVMC surveyed veterinary colleges on the subject of specialists in 2005. The survey revealed needs in anesthesiology, radiology, oncology, and ophthalmology.
Dr. Hubbell said many colleges are looking at a distributive model for some part of clinical education. Western University of Health Sciences in California doesn't have a veterinary teaching hospital. Other colleges often send students off campus to private practices, animal shelters, or farms.
Some specialty practices even offer residency programs. In other cases, colleges are operating or partnering with specialty practices to increase the caseload for their residents.
Dr. Mimi Arighi, director of Purdue University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital, said the School of Veterinary Medicine has an affiliation with an emergency clinic in another area of Indiana. The hope is to hire specialists for the clinic, which would allow Purdue specialists to consult and Purdue residents to see a broader caseload.
And Purdue is trying other solutions to address the loss of specialists in academia and simultaneous growth of the specialties. The veterinary school shares specialists with the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, for instance, and sends some students to the Indianapolis Zoo to learn exotic animal medicine.
In general, Dr. Arighi said, more and more students receive a portion of their clinical training in private practice. Most residency programs are still at teaching hospitals, though. The challenge remains to recruit and retain teachers from among the specialists.
A 2005 survey of diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons explored why many members of that group of specialists prefer private practice to academia.
The surgeons cited salary and location as reasons to work in private practice. Surgeons also indicated that university administrators recognize research and teaching but not clinical service, and being excellent in all three areas is difficult.
“Some people just don't want to do research,” Dr. Arighi said. “They prefer just teaching and surgery, and some of them just like to do surgery.”
The ACVS survey found that, between 1995 and 2005, 219 respondents changed from academia to practice and only 147 changed from practice to academia—including 14 who went to academia to complete residency programs.
The symposium on veterinary teaching hospitals, from Nov. 9-11 in Kansas City, Mo., will bring together specialists and other stakeholders to discuss changing models of clinical education. The topics will fall under three headings—the teaching hospital of the future, the scope of clinical education, and meeting the demand for clinical educators.
More information is available through the AAVMC Web site at www.aavmc.org. Presentations about clinical education from the AAVC meeting are available at www.craiggroup.com/AAVC/reports.htm.
Company to fund research on porcine circovirus
Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. has launched a new research program targeting porcine circovirusassociated diseases.
The PCVAD Research Award Program will award $75,000 annually to three research efforts. The goal of the program is to fund efforts that will lead to practical solutions for preventing or managing the diseases and associated conditions in swine.
Boehringer Ingelheim will award the first grants this September, and the company is accepting proposals until Aug. 15. An independent board will consider the proposals on the basis of criteria that include potential impact on the swine industry, scientific quality, probability of success in achieving research goals, and originality.
Instructions and forms for submitting proposals are available at www.pcvadresearch.com or by contacting Trudy Luther at (816) 236-2780.
Pennsylvania receives grant for large animal hospital
The University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine has received a $13.5 million state grant for its George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals.
Gov. Edward G. Rendell said that, despite the demand for veterinarians, the state of Pennsylvania has a shortage of large animal veterinarians.
The veterinary school will use the funds toward the completion of new medical facilities on the New Bolton Center campus—including an isolation building, colic barn, and chemical digestion facility.
The isolation building will provide additional biosecurity for the treatment of animals with infectious disease, while the colic barn is for the treatment of horses with a variety of high-risk abdominal conditions. The chemical digestion facility will contain technologic advances and equipment to dispose of infectious waste.
Each year, Widener Hospital treats more than 7,000 patients. New Bolton Center Field Services makes more than 21,000 patient visits annually, serving farms throughout the region. The center's diagnostic and avian pathology laboratories help protect the local agriculture industry from the threat of emerging and infectious disease.
The Veterinary Community
ACVIM honors researchers, announces diplomates
The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine honored several researchers at its annual convention, May 31-June 3 in Louisville, Ky. Dr. Alfred Legendre, an ACVIM diplomate in the Specialty of Oncology, received the Robert W. Kirk Award for Professional Excellence. Dr. Legendre is a professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the University of Tennessee. He served as the founder and first editor of the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.
Several researchers received the Resident Research Award, as follows: Cardiology—Drs. Steven Cole, University of Pennsylvania, for “Use of realtime three dimensional echocardiography in the characterization of congenital and acquired cardiac disease”; and R.A. Sanders, Purdue University, for “Efficacy of transesophageal and transgastric cardiac pacing in the dog”; Endocrinology— Drs. Catharina Broemel, University of California-Davis, for “Serum inhibin immunoreactivity in neutered dogs with adrenal dysfunction”; and Jenifer Gold, Cornell University, for “ACTH, cortisol and vasopressin levels of septic (survivors and nonsurvivors) in comparison to normal foals”; Hematology—Dr. Dawn Martin, Ontario Veterinary College, for “The effect of acepromazine and propofol on hemostasis in healthy dogs”; Immunology—Dr. Jennifer Johnson, University of Minnesota, for “The effect of feeding heat-treated colostrum on serum immunoglobulin concentrations in dairy calves”; Infectious disease—Drs. Beth Hanselman, Ontario Veterinary College, for “Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureuscolonization in veterinary professionals”; Marion Haber, North Carolina State University, for “Prevalence of Cytauxzoon felisDNA in blood of cats with suspected hemoplasmosis”; Stephanie Bell, University of California-Davis, for “Temporal detection of equine herpesvirus infections of a cohort of mares and their foals”; and Maureen Anderson, Ontario Veterinary College, for “Validation of a realtime polymerase chain reaction assay for rapid identification of methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus directly from nasal swabs in horses”; Neurology—Drs. Diccon Westworth, University of California-Davis, for “Clinicopathological features of choroid plexus tumors in dogs: 44 cases”; and Edwin Darrin, University of Pennsylvania, for “Retrospective study of 22 cases of cerebellar infarction in dogs: neurologic and clinicopathologic findings”; Pharmacology— Dr. Derek Foster, North Carolina State University, for “Evaluation of two colostrum replacer products in dairy calves.”
One hundred sixteen veterinarians completed the requirements for board certification by the ACVIM in 2006. Of the 116, 10 were certified in cardiology, 11 in neurology, 12 in oncology, 37 in internal medicine (large animal), and 46 in internal medicine (small animal).