Demand for internships and residencies continues to rise
More and more veterinary graduates are participating in internships and other advanced education programs, according to data compiled by the AVMA.
AVMA surveys of veterinary graduates from veterinary schools and colleges in the United States found the proportion of graduates accepting positions in advanced training has increased 9 percent in the past year, from 39.9 percent in 2008 to 43.5 percent in 2009 (see JAVMA, Sept. 1, 2009, “Facts & Figures,” pages 523–526).
By contrast, in 1991, only 17.8 percent of veterinary graduates were signing up for internships, residencies, and advanced degree programs.
These latest numbers reflect a trend in which increasing numbers of graduates are seeing value in supplementing their veterinary education with additional knowledge, skills, and experience.
Dr. D. Paul Lunn, president of the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians, sees the development as a good thing. “It reflects the continuing maturation of the profession,” Dr. Lunn said, “and the realization that more education, more advancement, and more complex training can not only be hugely satisfying for all our graduates, but is also very positive for the veterinary profession and animal health in North America.”
According to the most recent AVMA survey, nearly three-quarters of respondents entering advanced education indicated they had accepted an internship in private practice. A quarter had enrolled in academic internships. A small number of graduates had either accepted a residency or were pursuing a doctorate or other advanced degree.
Most internships are in companion animal medicine, followed by, in order of participation, equine, exotic or zoological animal, food animal, and mixed animal medicine, with the remainder involving other specialties, the survey found.
Dr. Roger B. Fingland is director of the Veterinary Internship and Residency Matching Program—a computer program that is the primary vehicle for placing veterinarians in internships and residencies in the United States. Dr. Fingland, who heads up the Kansas State University Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, says VIRMP data also indicate the trend toward advanced training among recent veterinary graduates.
For instance, in 1989, 456 applications were submitted for 186 internship openings listed in the VIRMP, according to Dr. Fingland. By 2009, that had risen to 1,104 applicants for 850 program slots. On the residency side, 378 veterinarians applied for 156 openings in 1989. Twenty years later, 810 applications were received for 247 residency openings.
Most internship programs in the VIRMP system are in private practice, Dr. Fingland noted.
While there are no hard data identifying what's driving recent veterinary graduates into advanced education programs, the conventional wisdom is these new veterinarians are motivated by one or more of the following factors: feelings of inadequacy, a desire to boost clinical proficiency, and increased earning potential.
The North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium, which was created to reshape veterinary education in the United States, may shed some light in this area. Relatedly, the AVMA and Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges have convened the Task Force on Veterinary Internships. The group is charged with reviewing the overall quality of veterinary internships, which, unlike residencies that are typically associated with academic institutions, are not subject to oversight.
Pfizer, AVMF partner to hand out hundreds of scholarships
Rising student debt, a lack of diversity within the profession, and fewer practicing rural and production animal veterinarians are among the most serious challenges facing veterinary medicine today.
The American Veterinary Medical Foundation and Pfizer Animal Health aim to address these issues by teaming up to create the Pfizer Animal Health Veterinary Student Scholarship Program.
Pfizer plans to award $2,500 scholarships to more than 225 veterinary students studying at AVMA-accredited schools in the United States. The scholarship program, announced Sept. 29, will be administered by the AVMF and involve a hand-in-hand working partnership with Pfizer, AVMF, and the veterinary schools and colleges.
By January, Pfizer will determine the total amount of funds available for the scholarship pool, which is projected at $600,000 to $700,000. Funds should be awarded by spring 2010.
Applications may be downloaded at www.avmf.org and are due by Nov. 13.
Second- and third-year veterinary students are eligible, regardless of their career ambitions.
Approximately 30 percent of scholarship recipients will be from diverse backgrounds, taking into consideration factors such as age, gender, physical disability, ethnicity, and other underlying characteristics, including sexual orientation, religion, and national identity.
Also, at least 40 percent of awardees will be students likely to enter food animal medicine or rural practice.
Applications will be initially reviewed by the Foundation with consideration to the stated criteria. Qualifying student applications will then be forwarded to each college's representative, who will make the final determination on which students receive scholarships. The final decisions will be made on the basis of the total amount of scholarship dollars available for disbursement and the college's enrollment.
The scholarships are part of Pfizer's efforts to recognize veterinary students on the basis of academic excellence and leadership as well as help students with a defined financial need. The pharmaceutical company annually donates millions in support of veterinary school programs, collaborative research, fellowships, and internships as well as donating products and granting discounts to veterinary teaching hospitals. Pfizer also has led other initiatives to incorporate more diversity in the profession, including sponsorship for four years of the Diversity Symposium during the AVMA Annual Convention.
New veterinary school partners with Virginia-Maryland
A Caribbean university will soon launch a veterinary school that will partner with a U.S.-based, AVMA-accredited institution.
The newly formed School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the American University of Antigua's University Park campus, located on the island of Antigua, West Indies, announced in late August that it will begin accepting students in January 2010.
In addition, AUA signed an agreement with the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech to provide transfer opportunities for qualified AUA veterinary students to complete their third and fourth years of veterinary training there. These transfer students will become Virginia Tech students, and once they complete their clinical training through the veterinary school's program and hospital, will graduate with a DVM degree from Virginia Tech.
The Antiguan university, which was founded in 2003, already has established medical and nursing programs. Neal Simon, president and co-founder of AUA, said his institution decided to establish the School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences after talking with Virginia Tech, according to an Aug. 25 Virginia-Maryland press release.
Peter Bell, PhD, vice president of academic affairs and executive dean at AUA, said that the school is not partnering exclusively with Virginia-Maryland in the sense that no other veterinary college may come on board later. Instead, “We partner with them as our lead or senior partner,” Dr. Bell said.
Virginia-Maryland Dean Gerhardt G. Schurig said the new agreement creates another avenue for the school to graduate a larger number of students, according to the press release.
He added that it will also have the potential to increase class diversity and reduce overall tuition increases for students at Virginia-Maryland.
To begin, at least five students from the Antiguan university will complete their first two years of education in Antigua. They will then be given the opportunity to transfer to Virginia-Maryland, pending the successful completion of the required National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners Qualifying Examination.
Symposium highlights research by veterinary students
More than 450 people gathered Aug. 6–8 at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine for the 2009 Merck-Merial NIH National Veterinary Scholars Symposium.
Attendees included more than 335 U.S. and Canadian veterinary students participating in 27 summer research programs—with support from the Merck-Merial Veterinary Scholars Program or the National Institutes of Health National Center for Research Resources—and in eight DVM-PhD degree programs.
The theme of the symposium was “Translational Research: Putting Discoveries to Work in Practice.” Nearly two dozen scientists presented research and networked with the students. Dr. Jack A. Reynolds, recently of Pfizer, delivered the keynote address, “Lost inTranslation: Are Animal Models Predictive?” The “State of the Art” sessions covered the topics of obesity, regenerative medicine, clinical studies, gastroenterology, immune-mediated and infectious diseases, and dermatology.
Each student who participated in a summer research program presented a poster. The main audience was the other students and more than 90 faculty mentors. Directors of summer programs met during the symposium and provided information to attendees about clinical and research training opportunities.
The symposium again featured the Young Investigator Award Competition, sponsored by the AVMA and American Veterinary Medical Foundation. First place went to Dr. Jennifer Johnson from the University of Minnesota, second place to Dr. Kevin Woolard from North Carolina State University, and third place to Dr. Wendy Lorch from The Ohio State University.
New this year was the parallel course “Becoming Faculty: A Short Course on Launching a Scientific Career,” for early-stage assistant professors and postdoctoral veterinarians finishing a research training program. The Burroughs Wellcome Fund sponsored and organized the course.
Sponsors of the symposium included Merck, Merial, NIH, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, AVMA, AVMF, American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and ACVIM Foundation, North Carolina State University, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Information about the Merck-Merial Veterinary Scholars Program is at www.merckmerialscholars.com. Information about NIH training awards for veterinary students and postdoctoral veterinarians is at www.ncrr.nih.gov/comparative_medicine/resource_directory/training.asp.
Incentive created for veterinarians switching to research
A new fellowship program partners nonprofits, industry, and academia to provide veterinarians a way to pursue a career in research. The sponsors hope the initiative will help solve the critical shortage of animal health scientists.
Seven students have been selected to participate in the Pfizer Animal Health-Morris Animal Foundation Veterinary Fellowship for Advanced Study program this year:
• Dr. Kevin J. Esch, Iowa State University, canine research
• Dr. Miriam Kool, University of Utrecht, the Netherlands, canine research
• Dr. Joshua A. Stern, Washington State University, canine research
• Dr. Melissa Clark, University of Illinois, feline research
• Dr. Allen Page, University of Kentucky, equine research
• Dr. Nichol E. Schultz, University of Minnesota, equine research
• Dr. Margaret E. Wilson, Michigan State University, equine research
Recipients can be practicing veterinarians returning to pursue a doctorate or professionals with a doctorate who wish to pursue a veterinary degree. Each fellow receives $60,000 per year for four years—provided equally by MAF, Pfizer Animal Health, and the student's academic institution—for living expenses and tuition. The veterinary colleges submit applications on behalf of potential recipients.
Fellows are provided with mentored research activities, focusing on basic or applied research to benefit companion animals, horses, or wildlife. As part of their training, each fellow will spend eight to 12 weeks participating in a research project at Pfizer Animal Health. Graduates must remain in animal health research for at least four years. In all, the program commits a minimum of nearly $1.7 million over four years. It has yet to be determined whether additional students will be chosen next year, depending on additional funding.
According to results from the 2009 AVMA annual survey of graduating fourth-year students from U.S. veterinary schools and colleges, 88.6 percent had debt at the time of their graduation, and all but 9.6 percent of that debt was incurred while the students were in veterinary school.
In 2009, the mean student debt was $129,976 for students who had debt. Nearly a third of those students had debt of $150,000 or more.
Pfizer Animal Health, one of six business units of the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical company, invests an estimated $300 million annually in discovering and developing veterinary prescription medicines and vaccines.
Nominations to AVMA entities being accepted
The AVMA is once again inviting its members to contribute toward decisions involving a wide range of veterinary-related issues. Service on councils, committees, and other AVMA entities will enable volunteer leaders to have a say on various matters, including veterinary education, disaster and emergency issues, the human-animal bond, and food safety.
“The AVMA wouldn't be the relevant and vibrant organization it is today without the expertise and energy that volunteers bring to the table,” said Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, AVMA CEO and executive vice president. “To stay focused on our members, we need a diverse group of veterinarians to serve on AVMA councils, committees, and entities.
“The rewards of this service to our profession far outweigh the sacrifices.”
Nominations are invited for 93 vacancies on Association entities and five liaison positions.
The House of Delegates will fill council openings when it convenes in July 2010 in Atlanta. Council nomination materials, including descriptions of the councils and instructions for publishing candidates' biographies in the 2010 Campaign Guide, are posted on the AVMA Web site, www.avma.org/about_avma/governance/volunteering. These materials can also be obtained by calling AVMA headquarters at (800) 248-2862, Ext. 6605, or e-mailing OfficeEVP@avma.org.
Council nominations must be submitted by April 1, 2010, to the AVMA Office of the Executive Vice President. Nominations for the Council on Education, however, must be submitted by Feb 1, 2010.
The AVMA committee, trust, and liaison vacancy positions are to be filled by the Executive Board at its April 2010 meeting. Nominations are also invited for two Political Action Committee Policy Board members to be appointed by the House Advisory Committee at its March 2010 meeting.
Trust and committee nomination materials, including descriptions of the various entities, are also available on the AVMA Web site. Inquiries on these vacancies can be answered at (800) 248-2862, Ext. 6605, or by e-mail at OfficeEVP@avma.org. Trust and committee nominations should be submitted to the AVMA Office of the Executive Vice President no later than March 8, 2010.
AVMA invites award nominations
Nominations are invited for the 2010 veterinary achievement awards offered by the AVMA and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation recognizing individuals who have advanced the science and art of veterinary medicine and shown exemplary concern for the welfare and humane treatment of animals. The awards will be presented at the 147th AVMA Annual Convention, July 31–Aug. 3 in Atlanta.
Two research awards were reinstated this year through the AVMF and the AVMA Council on Research collaborating with the American Kennel Club and the Winn Feline Foundation. Rejoining two other research awards are the AVMF/AKC Career Achievement Award in Canine Research and the AVMF/Winn Feline Foundation Research Award.
The other awards open for nomination are the AVMA Award, AVMA Advocacy Award, AVMA Animal Welfare Award, AVMA Humane Award, AVMA Lifetime Excellence in Research Award, AVMA Meritorious Service Award, AVMA Practitioner Research Award, AVMA Public Service Award, Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award, Charles River Prize, Royal Canin Award, and XIIth International Veterinary Congress Prize.
Nominations for awards must be submitted by Feb. 1, 2010, except for the Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award, which has a deadline of March 1, 2010. For nomination forms and information on supporting materials, awards criteria, and the selection process, visit www.avma.org/awards.
Grants for feline health research available
The nonprofit Winn Feline Foundation is calling for grant proposals for 2010.
Studies applicable to all cats are encouraged. The foundation is also interested in projects that address problems in individual breeds. In addition, the foundation has dedicated funds for research into feline infectious peritonitis and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
The application deadline is Dec. 14, 2009. The maximum grant amount is $15,000, and awards will be announced in March 2010. Multiyear proposals totaling more than $15,000 will not be considered. Additional funds may be available for breed-related studies.
Last year, the Winn Feline Foundation funded 12 grants totaling $127,411 in areas such as feline infectious peritonitis, renal disease, diabetes, cancer, nutrition, genetics, and drug therapies.
For more information about grant requirements, contact the Winn Feline Foundation at (856) 447-9787 or visit www.WinnFelineHealth.org.
$1 million awarded for E coli research
The National Science Foundation is providing $1 million for research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on reducing the incidence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infection in cattle.
The grant was one of more than 130 awarded to the university—together worth about $42 million—through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. About $1.5 million of that money was granted to the School of Veterinary Medicine for the E coli research and studies on the immunobiology of schistosome-mollusk interactions, genetic control of myelination by EGR2 and NAB proteins, and elemental imaging of mycobacterium tuberculosis during infection.
Dr. Dörte Döpfer, a veterinary epidemiologist in food animal production medicine at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, said she and colleagues intend to use epidemiology, microbiology, and mathematical modeling to find ways to reduce the bacterium's prevalence in cattle and decrease the risk of infection in humans.
Dr. Döpfer is working with Chuck W. Kaspar, PhD, a microbiologist in the UW College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and Dr. Renata Ivanek-Miojevic, an epidemiologist and mathematical modeler at Texas A&M University.
Vet 2011 celebration planning under way
Vet 2011 is a celebration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the world's first veterinary school in 1761 in Lyon, France. The Alfort veterinary school, near Paris, came three years later. Both were founded by French veterinarian Claude Bourgelat, who instrumental in developing the concept of comparative pathobiology.
Comité Vet 2011 has been recruiting members since this past year in an effort to designate 2011 as World Veterinary Year (see AJVR, August 2008, page 977). So far, organizing committees have formed at the local, national, and international levels.
World Veterinary Year is to be commemorated with special events highlighting the contributions veterinary medicine has made to animal and public health. The AVMA, which is an associate member of Vet 2011, is spearheading a national committee comprising organizations allied with the profession and government entities to coordinate events in the United States.
The Association, for its part, is considering the following:
• Hosting a one-day symposium at the 2011 AVMA Annual Convention in St. Louis titled “World Veterinary Year: 250 Years of Improving Animal and Human Health.”
• Pursuing a congressional resolution and presidential proclamation declaring World Veterinary Year in 2011.
• Publishing relevant cover art and articles in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2011, as well as the 2011 AVMA convention newspaper.
• Posting video footage on AVMA TV about Vet 2011 and World Veterinary Year.
• Developing commemorative items and handouts with the Vet 2011 logo.
• Establishing a student exchange with the Lyon veterinary school, in conjunction with the Student AVMA.
• Using the Vet 2011 logo and the AVMA logo on the return-address labels included in the 2011 AVMA membership renewal mailings.
• Developing an exhibit booth on Vet 2011 and World Veterinary Year for use at the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference and AVMA convention.
To serve as a link for Vet 2011 events globally, the French committee is planning to produce a film on the life of Dr. Bourgelat and the birth of the veterinary profession at the end of the 18th century. The film will be offered to TV channels and event organizers.
Visit www.vet2011.org for more information on Vet 2011.
Abbott online CE begins with fluid therapy
Abbott Animal Health recently launched a free online learning center for veterinarians and veterinary technicians to provide continuing education on fluid therapy, anesthesia, and diabetes.
So far, www.AbbottAnimalHealthCE.com features several multimedia presentations on fluid therapy by experts in the area. Each half-hour presentation comes with an outline, searchable transcript, speaker biography, glossary of terms, links to additional resources, and form for submitting questions. Veterinarians and veterinary technicians can earn one hour of CE credit by passing a test at the end of each module.
Abbott plans to add new modules to the Web site at the beginning of each month. The first series of modules, on fluid therapy, will include a total of 10 presentations. Abbott plans to post the first anesthesia module in November and the first diabetes module in January 2010.
Veterinarians and veterinary technicians can obtain a pass code to register with the Web site by calling their Abbott sales representative, an Abbott distributor, or Abbott Animal Health customer service at (888) 299-7416.