The newest veterinary college in the United States was approved for full accreditation March 2 during the AVMA Council on Education spring meeting in Schaumburg, Ill.
The COE voted to advance the Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine in Pomona, Calif., from limited to full accreditation.
Dr. Phillip D. Nelson, dean of the WesternU veterinary college, said he was “ecstatic” about the decision.
The veterinary college is currently the only one in the United States to operate with a distributive teaching model that focuses on problem-based learning in small groups.
According to the college's Web site, first-and second-year veterinary students gain clinical experience at on-campus wellness centers and other area facilities. Third-and fourth-year students complete off-campus rotations, largely at local private practices, rather than at a teaching hospital.
WesternU's veterinary college opened in 2003. It operated under provisional accreditation from its inception to 2008, when the COE voted to move it to limited accreditation.
Veterinary colleges on limited accreditation must correct one or more specific deficiencies within two years, unless the COE allows an extension.
Dr. Nelson noted that the college has dramatically improved its research capabilities since 2008 and also acquired more faculty.
The council's recent vote confirms the veterinary college is in full or substantial compliance with all COE standards.
In other council action, COE members made an accreditation decision regarding the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia in Mexico City. Accreditation reports are confidential, although colleges can choose to share information from evaluations. Colleges are allowed 30 days from notification to appeal an adverse decision before the accreditation status becomes public.
In spring 2006, the COE made a consultative site visit to Mexico City and, afterward, laid out recommendations for UNAM to implement to work toward accreditation. The school sent a video more than a year later for the COE to view, showcasing the completion of curriculum and facilities upgrades designed to meet conditions cited by COE officials in the 2006 consultative site visit.
Additional interim reports provided by UNAM and reviewed by the COE resulted in the council granting a request from the school for a comprehensive site visit, which occurred in November 2009.
MSU veterinary college ends nonsurvival surgeries
Starting this fall, Michigan State University veterinary students beginning their surgical education will no longer train on dogs euthanized at the operation's end.
The College of Veterinary Medicine announced this March that third-year students taking the introductory surgery course will learn on models, cadavers, organs, and limbs instead of living dogs.
The American Anti-Vivisection Society and other animal rights groups welcomed news of Michigan's veterinary college joining other veterinary teaching institutions that have already eliminated nonsurvival surgeries from their curricula.
Dr. Bryden J. Stanley, the assistant professor of surgery at MSU-CVM who recommended the course change, says the college's decision was not influenced by any criticism of the practice. Rather, the faculty believes the change will result in higher surgical competence among students.
“We think we're going to give students a better skills-based education by going to this revised course,” Dr. Stanley said. “We can now do some additional procedures that the students wouldn't have done before, like amputation, enucleation, and splenectomy.”
Nonsurvival surgeries limited what students did in the operating room, Dr. Stanley explained. For instance, only a third of the class would have a chance to do each specific procedure while the remainder either assisted or supervised anesthesia. Training on dog cadavers, organs, and limbs instead of live dogs will allow every student a chance to perform each procedure, she said.
“In the revised course, all students will get to do two to four intestinal resections and anastomoses on freshly harvested organs as opposed to live tissue,” Dr. Stanley said. She understands working with cadavers isn't the same as operating on living tissue but thinks the benefits of practicing multiple procedures trump any perceived learning costs.
Students will continue using foam models as part of their surgical instruction and also spaying and neutering dogs and cats from local shelters and rescue organizations, and returning them for adoption, according to Dr. Stanley. The course, she added, is followed by up to three surgical rotations that include opportunities for students to operate on living, client-owned animals.
Comments sought on proposed animal welfare and parasitology specialties
The AVMA American Board of Veterinary Specialties is being petitioned to recognize the American College of Animal Welfare as a new veterinary specialty organization. The ABVS has also received a request to recognize a new Parasitology Specialty within the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists.
The ABVS is asking for comments from the public and veterinary profession regarding the two proposals.
The American College of Animal Welfare organizing committee has indicated the new specialty organization would provide the profession with a key group of veterinarians possessing a base knowledge about animal welfare broad enough to recognize problems across species.
The ACAW organizing committee says the complexity of animal welfare issues and changes in public expectations regarding animal welfare, along with the need for individuals who can provide science-based animal welfare expertise across disciplines, are sufficient to warrant formation of a new specialty certification program and recognition of a new veterinary specialty organization.
The American College of Veterinary Microbiologists and the organizing committee for the proposed new Parasitology Specialty believe veterinary parasitology constitutes a clearly defined veterinary medical discipline that fits well under the umbrella of the ACVM as a specialty discipline which, while distinct in focus, shares common features with the bacteriology, virology, and immunology specialties already established within that college.
Like those disciplines, the veterinary parasitology community has a long-standing commitment to supporting clinical diagnostic services, providing evidence-based medical and treatment advice, and promoting advances in the prevention of infectious diseases. Certification for the proposed new specialty would be administered under the ACVM umbrella.
The ABVS reviews petitions and forwards recommendations regarding recognition to the Council on Education, which, if in agreement, forwards any ABVS recommendations to the AVMA Executive Board.
All AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty organizations and specialties comply with recognition guidelines outlined in the ABVS Policies and Procedures Manual, available online at www.avma.org/education/abvs/abvs_pp.asp. Refer to those guidelines when developing comments regarding the proposed new American College of Animal Welfare specialty organization and Parasitology Specialty.
Comments on the proposed American College of Animal Welfare and the Parasitology Specialty must be signed and received no later than Nov. 1 by David Banasiak, AVMA Education and Research Division, 1931 N. Meacham Road, Suite 100, Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions regarding the recognition guidelines or the proposed new specialty organization or specialty may be directed to Banasiak via e-mail or by phone, (800) 248-2862, Ext. 6677.
The American Veterinary Medical Foundation, in keeping with one of its primary goals of student enhancement, is seeking applicants once again for its annual veterinary student scholarship program.
This year the Foundation will award $29,000 through 23 scholarships to Student AVMA members enrolled in their first, second, or third year at an AVMA-accredited college or school in the United States. Additional scholarships may be available.
Students are encouraged to consider traditional and nontraditional careers as they move forward in their education, to understand the many options that the veterinary profession offers. In keeping with the mission of the AVMF, preference will be given to students interested in pursuing a career in certain areas. These include, but are not limited to, animal health studies, shelter medicine, disaster preparedness and response, laboratory animal medicine, food animal medicine, and practicing in under-served communities.
For applications, visit www.avmf.org and click on the “Grant Seeking” and then “How to Apply” links. Applications are due by May 15; recipients will be notified by letter by Sept. 15.
Allison Shepherd, senior manager of marketing research in the AVMA Communications Division, predicted in 2007 that female veterinarians would soon outnumber male veterinarians in the U.S. The tipping point occurred last year. Female veterinarians numbered close to 45,000, while male veterinarians numbered just over 43,000.
In another trend, more veterinarians are becoming specialists. Veterinary specialty organizations listed nearly 10,000 active diplomates for 2009, although some veterinarians are diplomates in more than one field. The number increased more than 15 percent between 2006 and 2009.
Dr. Larry R. Corry, AVMA president, said the Association has been aware for some time of the increase in veterinary specialists, but the data help the Association understand and track the trend.
The AVMA mines an enormous amount of data for insights, Shepherd said. Among the statistics are information that members provide voluntarily regarding employment type, species contact, and other professional characteristics.
AVMA's grass roots answering call to become advocates
The American Veterinary Medical Association Congressional Advocacy Network, AVMA-CAN—the Association's grassroots advocacy program—is in the midst of an unprecedented growth surge. Since 2008, the number of AVMA-CAN members has more than tripled and now exceeds 7,000, and members have become more actively involved as advocates for federal legislation that supports veterinary medicine. More than 1,500 new members have joined the network in the past two months alone.
The growth of the grassroots network is the result of new efforts by AVMA staff in support of the Association's strategic goal of advocacy. Additionally, AVMA-CAN has recruited heavily at veterinary events, signing up hundreds of new members at the North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando, Fla., and the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas earlier this year.
With the growth of AVMA-CAN, the Association has increased its use of social media tools to strengthen engagement and enhance communication with grassroots members. More than 2,000 Facebook users have become fans of the AVMA-CAN Facebook page at www.facebook.com/avmacan, which provides the latest advocacy news and legislative alerts.
Earlier this year, AVMA-CAN launched a Twitter feed that features brief legislative updates and congressional news, at www.twitter.com/avmacan. The feed has also been used to provide real-time updates from conferences and advocacy events, including this year's NAVC and the recent AVMA Student Legislative Fly-in in Washington, D.C. The tweets offered an interactive experience that helped attendees share the AVMA-CAN message.
“These social networking tools have brought new members into the conversation and have increased the voice of veterinary medicine on Capitol Hill, including those of nonveterinarians who support the AVMA's legislative agenda,” said Stephanie Fisher, AVMA grassroots coordinator in the Governmental Relations Division in Washington.
Guidance developed on shipping laboratory specimens
An Illinois veterinarian faced tens of thousands of dollars in possible fines as the result of an audit earlier this year of her practice's hazardous material shipping practices involving laboratory specimens.
Peter S. Weber, executive director of the Illinois State VMA, said the veterinarian was one of two in his state with whom he spoke following recent audits by the Federal Aviation Administration. Both told him they were directed to correct errors in shipping practices and provide required staff training to avoid substantial fines.
Following the audits, the AVMA developed and published a guide for veterinarians on proper packaging and shipping of laboratory specimens. The document provides an overview of the categories of hazardous materials, specific packaging requirements, and required training for such shipments.
Elizabeth Isham Cory, a spokeswoman for the FAA, said the agency's inspections of veterinary clinics that ship hazardous materials by air are not new and that she has had no indication such inspections have been increasing. She said these inspections are vital to the health of the traveling public.
Weber said the training requirements are not arduous, but many veterinarians may not know what training requirements exist for their staff.
The guide also provides links to Department of Transportation guidance, training resources, and the AVMA Policy “Shipment of Diagnostic Specimens.”
To read the guide, go to www.avma.org, click on “Issues,” then scroll down to Specimen Submission and click on “Required Training for Packaging and Shipping Lab Specimens.”
Thirteen microbiologists certified
The American College of Veterinary Microbiologists certified 13 new diplomates in 2009. They are as follows:
Barbara Byrne, Davis, Calif.
Joshua Daniels, Columbus, Ohio
Musangu Ngeleka, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Akhilesh Ramachandran, Ponca City, Okla.
Shuping Zhang, Peal, Miss.
Yugendar Bommineni, Albuquerque, N.M.
Subhashinie Kariyawasam, State College, Pa.
Sara Lawhon, College Station, Texas
Hemant Naikare, Amarillo, Texas
Ramadevi Nimmanapalli, Tuskegee, Ala.
Dmitry Volokhov, Rockville, Md.
Michael Zhang, Peal, Miss.
Dr. Lynn A. Joens, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded honorary diplomate status.
FDA allows propofol imports to address short supply
The Food and Drug Administration is temporarily allowing APP Pharmaceuticals to import an unapproved propofol 1 % product to help address a shortage of the anesthetic agent.
APP previously received FDA approval, late last year, to import and distribute Fresenius Propoven 1 % after recalls of propofol injection by other U.S. manufacturers—Hospira and Teva Animal Health. The FDA reinstated permission for APP to import Fresenius Propoven 1 % following continuing supply issues with other U.S. manufacturers.
APP's parent company, Fresenius Kabi of Germany, manufactures Fresenius Propoven 1 % in FDA-compliant facilities.
APP with FDA agreement, is temporarily introducing Fresenius Propoven 1 % in a 20-mL glass ampule. Health care providers should use a 5-micron filter when withdrawing the product from the glass ampule. APP is shipping a Becton Dickinson 5-micron blunt filter needle with each 20-mL glass ampule.
Fresenius Propoven 1 % is also available in 20-mL, 50-mL, and 100-mL vials. APP will continue to offer its own brand-name propofol 1 % product, Diprivan, and increase the supply of its generic product.
Additional information about the propofol shortage and Fresenius Propoven 1 % is available from the FDA at www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/DrugShortages by clicking on “Current Drug Shortages” and scrolling down to the propofol entry.
Health care providers may contact APP Customer Service by calling (888) 386-1300 or contact APP Medical Information by calling (800) 551-7176 or e-mailing appmedicalinfo@APPpharma.com.
FDA offers guidance on anesthetic development
The Food and Drug Administration has released guidance for industry on the development of anesthetics for companion animals.
The guidance document makes recommendations to assist developers of general anesthetic drugs, injectable or inhalational, for dogs, cats, and horses. The document discusses information that developers should consider when planning and conducting safety and field studies of a new drug. The document also provides recommendations on how to analyze study data and how to present the data in a package to the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine.
The document is available by searching for “GFI #192” at www.fda.gov.
EPA imposes new regulations on spot-on flea and tick pesticides, calls for comments
The Environmental Protection Agency announced March 17 it is tightening regulations on dog and cat spot-on pesticides after an increase in adverse reaction reports in 2008 prompted a government investigation of the products' safety.
The government saw no cause to ban or recall any of the flea and tick control products marketed in the United States but did see an immediate need to determine which spot-on products require stronger labeling statements to prevent misuse. Specifically, the EPA wants manufacturers to list on the label and package more precise pet weight ranges for the various vial sizes and to be clearer about whether products are intended for use in cats or dogs.
The agency said it is also developing more stringent testing and evaluation requirements for both existing and new spot-on products.
In 2009, the EPA and Health Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency became increasingly concerned about the large number of incident reports involving spot-on flea and tick products. Incidents ranged from skin irritation to death, and several class-action lawsuits have been filed against the products makers.
The U.S. and Canadian agencies evaluated incident data from 2007 and 2008. It's that analysis on which the EPA is basing its conclusions. In its report, the EPA found most adverse incidents involving dogs occurred in animals less than 3 years old and weighing 10 to 20 pounds. Most incidents involving cats occurred in animals weighing 5 to 15 pounds. Notably, many cat incidents resulted from use of a spot-on product meant for heavier cats or for dogs.
Other immediate actions the EPA will pursue are requiring additional changes for specific products, as needed, based on product-specific evaluations; granting only conditional, time-limited registrations to allow for postmarketing product surveillance when new products are registered; restricting the use of certain inert ingredients the EPA finds may contribute to the adverse incidents; and launching a consumer information campaign.
To improve the regulatory oversight of pet products, the EPA will require more standardized postmarket surveillance reporting on adverse effects, require submission of more sales information so the agency can better evaluate incident rates, and bring up-to-date the scientific data requirements on premarket and postmarket testing so they are in line with the Food and Drug Administration's requirements.
The EPA is inviting public comment on how best to implement these new measures. A Federal Register notice announcement was published March 18, and comments will be accepted through May 17. The docket number is EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-0229; comments can be submitted at www.reaulations.gov.
The agency is coordinating its actions with Health Canada, which identified similar concerns about the use of spot-on flea and tick products last year, and with the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine. The EPA's report on the evaluation of products and incidents is available at www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/petproductseval.html.
The EPA recommends veterinarians use the National Pesticide Information Center's Veterinary Pesticide Adverse Effects Portal at http://npic.orst.edu/vet to report incidents.
New association focuses on veterinary regenerative medicine
A recent conference resulted in the establishment of the North American Veterinary Regenerative Medicine Association, which seeks to advance the science and clinical application of stem cell therapies and other techniques in regenerative medicine.
“The association's goal is to facilitate scientific investigations with stem cells that are acquired from fat, bone marrow, and umbilical cord sources and to combine that knowledge with other regenerative medicine techniques that are designed to improve the health care of animals and humans alike,” said Dr. Sean D. Owens, director of the University of California-Davis Regenerative Medicine Laboratory.
Organizers launched the NAVRMA during the first North American Veterinary Regenerative Medicine Conference, March 5–6 in California's Santa Ynez Valley. Coordinating the meeting were the UC-Davis Center for Equine Health; Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center of Los Olivos, Calif.; and Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital of Lexington, Ky.
Nearly 300 researchers, veterinarians, and physicians from around the globe attended the conference. Dr. Gregory L. Ferraro, director of the UC-Davis Center for Equine Health, was the moderator. U.S. and Canadian experts in regenerative medicine gave formal presentations. Roundtable discussions between research scientists and practicing clinicians covered topics such as clinical trials and in-practice solutions.
“Regenerative medicine has our industry excited because it holds so much potential for treating conditions that were formerly thought to be unbeatable,” said Dr. John F. Peroni, a conference speaker and associate professor of large animal surgery at the University of Georgia.
Membership in the NAVRMA is open to researchers in the field of regenerative medicine, stem cell biologists, and biomedical engineers as well as clinicians. Membership information is available from Dr. Owens at email@example.com or Dr. Ferraro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Canada steps up enforcement of horse slaughter guidelines
Canada has taken a first step in developing a comprehensive food safety and traceability program for its equine industry, the effects of which will reverberate at home and abroad.
On Jan. 29, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued health requirements for all horses bound for slaughter in Canada; the new requirements come into effect July 31. Horse owners who intend to sell animals directly or indirectly to Canadian meat processors must record all vaccines and medications administered or fed to their animals and any occurrence of illness in their animals.
The CFIA has provided an Equine Information Document for this purpose; it can be found on the agency's Web site, www.inspection.gc.ca.
About 55 types of medications and substances, including phenylbutazone and certain antimicrobials, are prohibited from being given to horses intended to be sent to Canada to be slaughtered for human consumption.
During the transition period, the EID will be reviewed to determine whether horses have been treated with prohibited drugs during the six months prior to their slaughter. A longer “certification period” will eventually be implemented.
A list of drugs that are safe to be given or fed to horses that may be used for food will be available in April. Withdrawal periods specific to horses slaughtered in Canada will be included with this list.
The collection of information is meant to prepare the equine industry for July 31, when it will be mandatory for all federally inspected Canadian equine facilities to have complete records dating back six months for all domestic and imported animals presented for slaughter.
This new measure is part of Canada's response to the European Commission's requirements on the importation of equine meat products, issued in April 2009.