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Board weighs in on foreign accreditation

The differences in Association member opinions regarding whether the AVMA Council on Education should continue its role in foreign accreditation were manifest at the AVMA Executive Board meeting June 10–12 in Schaumburg, Ill.

Board members held a strategic discussion on the matter and also dealt with two relevant agenda items—a resolution submitted to the AVMA House of Delegates that asks the Association to conduct a benefit-risk analysis of accrediting foreign schools and a recommendation that urged the Association to reaffirm its acceptance of a leadership role in international veterinary medicine.

The resolution was submitted by the Texas VMA to be considered by the House during its 2010 regular annual session in Atlanta, July 29–30. The resolution and its background material are available at by clicking on the “About the AVMA” bar and then selecting “House of Delegates 2010 Regular Annual Session Agenda Items.”

Executive Board members discussed the pros and cons of making a recommendation to the HOD and giving the House an opportunity to consider the resolution without the board exerting undue influence on the outcome. Ultimately, the board decided to put forward a recommendation on the resolution as part of its leadership role, with members unanimously voting to recommend disapproval.

The board had two reasons for recommending disapproval of the resolution—one being procedural, the other philosophical.

Procedurally, Texas' resolution directs the board to assign a task force to perform a benefit-risk analysis of continued COE accreditation of foreign veterinary schools. According to the AVMA Bylaws, however, the HOD can recommend that the board take a specific action but cannot mandate that it do so. Thus, the resolution may need to be amended on the HOD floor before proceeding for a full vote.

From a philosophical point of view, the board believes that there are benefits to continuing foreign accreditation, such as global recognition of AVMA COE standards, enhanced ability to address public health concerns, and improved health and safety in the global food chain.

The Executive Board also considered a recommendation by the Committee on International Veterinary Affairs that asked the board to reaffirm the AVMA policy “Leadership Role for AVMA” as an indication of the AVMA's continued commitment to the COE evaluating foreign veterinary schools for accreditation on a voluntary basis.

After twice debating what action to take, board members voted to postpone considering the recommendation until their Aug. 3 meeting to give the HOD an opportunity to consider the issue in July first.

From dues to diversity, board acts on a variety of items

The AVMA Executive Board, meeting June 10–12, deliberated on Association matters such as member dues and leadership development as well as professional issues in areas ranging from economics to diversity.

The board approved recommending that the AVMA House of Delegates authorize a $10 annual increase in dues for regular members from 2013–2015. According to the background to the recommendation, modest annual dues increases would help the Association keep up with the costs of doing business and have less impact on members than larger and more irregular dues increases would.

Actions during the June board meeting resulted in new expenditures of $464,370 in 2010 and $63,800 in 2011 from several funds—the contingency fund, general reserves, Strategic Goal Fund, and website redevelopment fund.

The biggest expenditure was $380,000 for the first stage of the redevelopment of the AVMA website, including the licensing and installation of a new content management system. Also receiving funds were a new leadership development program for HOD members and the second year of a program to increase attendance at the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference by emerging leaders from underrepresented groups.

The board approved forming and funding two new task forces. The AVMA Model Veterinary Practice Act Review Task Force will review the Association's model version of a state practice act. The AVMA National Hazardous Waste Product Database Task Force will consider the feasibility of creating and maintaining a database of veterinary products that contain hazardous materials.

During strategic discussions at the board meeting, leaders of the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues announced it was in the process of forming a partnership with the Kansas State University College of Business Administration to create a Center for Veterinary Economics. The board approved supporting the NCVEI with $50,000 in annual funding from 2010–2012, contingent on the approval of proportionate funding from the American Animal Hospital Association and Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.

The board approved positions on a number of bills in the 111th Congress. The AVMA will support the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act (H.R. 5434/S. 3424), which is intended to strengthen regulations for high-volume dog breeders, and actively pursue passage of a bill (H.R. 5092) to prohibit the sale of animal crush videos in interstate and foreign commerce.

The board approved partnering with the AAVMC to develop, distribute, and analyze a survey on the cultural climate at accredited veterinary colleges, particularly as it relates to underrepresented minorities. It is hoped that the survey results will provide information that will help colleges develop interventions to improve their cultural climate.

The AVMA Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates received board approval for revisions to the ECFVG English-language waiver policy. The new wording specifies that the ECVFG may waive English examinations for certification candidates who attended at least three years of English-language secondary school in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, or Canada— outside of Quebec. Previously, the waiver policy applied to candidates born in any country where English is a common language and who attended at least three years of English-language secondary school.

Over the past three meetings, the board approved changes to potential future locations for the AVMA Annual Convention. In January, the board rescinded a plan for a repeating, five-city rotation and selected potential locations for 2015–2020. In April and June, the board canceled one potential location and approved another so the AVMA convention would not be in California twice from 2015–2020. The current list of potential locations is as follows: Boston in 2015, San Antonio in 2016, Chicago in 2017, Denver in 2018, Washington, D.C., in 2019, and San Diego in 2020.

Study on campus climate at veterinary schools in the works

The campus climate at veterinary schools and colleges has been identified as a major barrier to recruitment and retention of individuals from various underrepresented ethnic and racial backgrounds.

This topic was analyzed at length during the second Southeastern Veterinary Student Diversity Matters Symposium in February at the University of Georgia. The symposium focused on inclusiveness as part of the campus climate and how it relates to student, faculty, and staff success (see JAVMA, July 15, 2010, page 140).

The primary outcome of the meeting was a decision to develop a core cultural climate survey that can be distributed to domestic and international schools and colleges of veterinary medicine.

Enter the AVMA-Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges Joint Committee, which agreed to take action on the matter at its spring meeting.

The committee recommended to the AVMA Executive Board that the two associations develop, distribute, and analyze such a survey for distribution to all AAVMC member and affiliate member schools. The survey would act as a benchmarking tool to assess inclusiveness at the colleges and provide critically needed information for the development of interventions that would enhance and improve the cultural climate at participating institutions.

The AVMA board approved the recommendation at its June meeting at Association headquarters.

For its part, the AVMA will provide in-kind support through assistance in developing the climate survey instrument, promoting survey participation, and the like, according to the background to the recommendation.

The AAVMC expects to administer the survey this fall semester with the hopes of providing preliminary results at the 18th Iverson Bell Symposium in March 2011. Eventually, the committee plans to develop a peerreviewed manuscript for publication in the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education.

The AVMA and AAVMC each have strategic goals that seek to enhance and increase diversity in the veterinary colleges and the profession.

Former AVMA editor-in-chief remembered

Dr. Albert J. Koltveit of Seattle was the 12th of only 14 AVMA editors-in-chief in a line that dates back to 1877. Dr. Koltveit died May 30 at the age of 79 following a brief illness.

The amiable and witty editor, known for his colorful turns of phrase, served 10 years as editor-in-chief and 16 before that as an editor processing manuscripts.

Dr. Koltveit received a bachelor's degree in agriculture (dairy technology) from the University of Illinois in 1952 and then served two years in the Army. In 1958, the U of I awarded him his DVM degree. For the next six years, he was engaged in mixed animal practice in his native Pontiac, Ill., and nearby Bloomington. In 1964, Dr. Koltveit left private practice for a position as scientific writer at Norwich Pharmacal Company in Norwich, N.Y. Returning to the university, he earned his master's in veterinary medical science for his studies on poultry parasitism. Before coming to the AVMA, he was an extension veterinarian at the U of I.

“He had good experience in private practice in dealing with clients, especially in the livestock business,” said another former AVMA editor-in-chief, Dr. Arthur Freeman of Indianapolis. That background in food animal medicine and extension gave him a broad perspective of the profession.

As a JAVMA editor from 1969–1985, Dr. Koltveit had primary responsibility for processing a rapidly growing volume of scientific reports. Manuscript submissions more than doubled from 1970–1984. His appointment as editor-in-chief and director of the Publications Division was effective Jan. 1, 1985.

Attentiveness to readers' desire for more practical information led Dr. Koltveit and his editors in 1993 to rearrange the table of contents to the more practical format that continues today, featuring distinct sections— News, Views, Veterinary Medicine Today, and Scientific Reports; to reorganize the scientific reports to group each species together; and to initiate seven new features, among them, the still-popular “What Is Your Neurologic Diagnosis?” and “Animal Behavior Case of the Month.”

Dr. Koltveit was editor-in-chief at a transitional time, when print and electronic communication technologies were emerging full force. He moderated the AVMA Journals forum on the Association's Network of Animal Health—NOAH. And he was especially proud of having hired the late Dr. Janis H. Audin, his eventual successor, to leverage these technologies and oversee the conversion to desktop publishing. “It was the crowning achievement of my career,” he said, shortly before his death.

Surviving Dr. Koltveit are his daughters, Berit Koltveit and Erika Morgan, both of Seattle.

Memorials may be made to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and designated for the scholarship fund. Donations can be made at or mailed to the AVMF, Suite 100, 1931 N. Meacham Road, Schaumburg, IL 60173.

Weigh in on AVMA animal welfare policies

A new online tool gives AVMA members an opportunity to provide direct input that will help shape the Association's animal welfare policies.

Members can now visit the AVMA website to provide input on animal welfare policies by going to, clicking on “Animal welfare” under the Issues bar, and selecting “Policies open for comment.” The direct link is The Web page lists animal welfare policies under review or being considered for adoption by the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee, provides background information on those policies, and asks members to submit a comment and supporting documentation.

This new tool reflects the AVMA's dedication to understanding and incorporating the expertise, perspectives, and needs of AVMA members.

To protect the privacy of AVMA members, comments are not available for public review, but the Association will make public a summary of the comments received. The summary will be posted together with the Animal Welfare Committee's response to that input. The response may include new actions or policies adopted by the AVMA.

The first three policies posted for input were existing policies on “Free Roaming, Owned Cats” and ”Therapeutic Medications in Racehorses” and a new policy under development on “Hot-Iron Branding and Its Alternatives.” Those had an Aug. 1 comment deadline.

At press time it was anticipated that input on the AVMA sow housing policy would be invited with a later deadline. Time frames for comments will correspond with the semiannual meetings of the Animal Welfare Committee, although occasionally comments may be sought at other times.

AVMA names members of 20/20 Vision Commission

A group of individuals from diverse backgrounds has been appointed to the AVMA 20/20 Vision Commission, which is charged with creating a vision for the near future of the Association.

The vision will encompass characteristics necessary for the AVMA to be increasingly relevant and responsive to the membership and the public in the next six to 10 years.

The commission members are as follows.

Chair Lonnie J. King, dean, The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine; past director, National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dr. Bonnie V. Beaver, professor, Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; AVMA past president

Dr. Grace F. Bransford, owner, Ross Valley Veterinary Hospital, a small animal practice in San Anselmo, Calif.

Dr. Ann S. Hale, CEO, Animal Blood Resources International, Stockbridge, Mich.

Steve Kess, vice president, global professional relations, Henry Schein; past board member, American Dental Association

Joanna M. Morel, third-year veterinary student, Tufts University; Tufts' senior delegate to the Student AVMA

Dr. Stacy L. Pritt, director, Biological Test Center at B. Braun Medical, Irvine, Calif.; alternate delegate in the AVMA House of Delegates for the American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners

Dr. Stephan L. Schaefbauer, area epidemiology officer, Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Raleigh, N.C.

Dr. Christina V. Tran, shelter and relief veterinarian, North Plains, Ore.

Peter Weber, executive director, Illinois State VMA

Dr. Michael L. Whitehair, partner, Abilene Animal Hospital, a mixed animal practice in Abilene, Kan.; past chair of the AVMA House Advisory Committee

Education council schedules site visits

The AVMA Council on Education has scheduled site visits to five schools and colleges of veterinary medicine for the remainder of 2010.

Comprehensive site visits are planned for the University of Saskatchewan Western College of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 3–7; Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 24–28; Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Nov. 7–11; and Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dec. 5–9.

A consultative site visit is scheduled for the University of Queensland School of Veterinary Sciences in Australia, Aug. 28–Sept. 2.

The council welcomes written comments on these plans or the programs to be evaluated. Comments should be addressed to Dr. David E. Granstrom, Director, Education and Research Division, AVMA, 1931 N. Meacham Road, Suite 100, Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360. Comments must be signed by the person submitting them to be considered.

Efforts being sustained to promote diversity

The push for greater cultural competence in the veterinary profession continued to gain momentum this year, thanks to efforts by the veterinary academic community.

Two regional meetings—one held at the University of Georgia in February and the other at Purdue University in May—convened with the goal of pushing forward the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges agenda outlined in its DiVersity Matters program, aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in veterinary medicine.

The Iverson Bell Regional Diversity Summit in Indiana, co-hosted by Michigan State University, featured a mix of speakers. Small group sessions focused on creating innovative ways in which cultural competence can be included in the veterinary curriculum, whether through basic science classes or the clinics.

Lisa Greenhill, AAVMC associate executive director for diversity, who attended the symposium, said the small groups tried to focus on the specific areas where educators could do some unique things such as having electives that focus on diversity in veterinary medicine.

Other discussions centered on how to use accreditation as a tool to urge colleges to consider methods of incorporating diversity into the curriculum to effect change.

The Purdue meeting followed the second Southeastern Veterinary Student Diversity Matters Symposium at the University of Georgia in late February. That meeting focused on campus climate at institutions, whether faculty and students believed the environment where they were working and living was really inclusive, and whether that creates an environment for success.

The first Southeastern symposium, held in 2006 at North Carolina State University, was attended by more than 100, including representatives from industry, veterinary and human medical schools, and private businesses.

The AAVMC anticipates moving forward with the issues discussed at the two regional meetings at the upcoming Iverson Bell Symposium in March 2011. That will be helped by the concrete suggestions for institutions that came out of the two regional meetings.

USDA may accredit 60,000 veterinarians in revised NVAP

Veterinarians who haven't signed up with the Department of Agriculture's revised accreditation program by early August can expect their existing accreditation to expire.

The USDA set an Aug. 2 deadline for applications under the revised National Veterinary Accreditation Program, which allows veterinarians to perform specific duties for the USDA.

Veterinarians who submitted applications may continue performing accredited duties. Unless their forms contain errors, applicants will not be contacted by the USDA until they receive letters with their national accreditation numbers and renewal dates, Madelaine Fletcher, a spokeswoman for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said.

The new NVAP adds educational requirements, two tiers of accreditation, and renewals every three years. The USDA is distributing the initial renewal dates from 2013–2015.

The first tier of accreditation, called category I, allows veterinarians to perform specific duties for the USDA involving animals such as cats and dogs but not food and fiber species, horses, birds, farm-raised aquatic animals, other livestock, or zoo animals that can transmit exotic animal diseases to livestock. The second tier, category II, allows such work on all animals.

The USDA will later have program certifications or specialized training.

Additional information is available at

Cornell, China: long-distance partners

Cornell University has agreed to assist the City University of Hong Kong in creating what the latter says is the first veterinary medicine academic program in the Chinese metropolis.

The two institutions signed a memorandum of understanding in mid-April, according to a Cornell press release, to establish the terms of their collaboration. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine has agreed to provide advice and guidance to City University in the planning, establishment, operation, and evaluation of the new school of veterinary medicine, with the goal of securing international accreditation in the future.

All courses will be in English. The plan is to start the first class of 30 students at the school in 2012 and increase the student class size to 50 by the time the first graduation takes place.

The school will offer a bachelor of veterinary medicine degree, granted by the City University. Students studying at City University may also have a chance to participate in specialty training at Cornell's veterinary college.

The school will be housed at new and renovated academic and small animal clinical facilities on the City University campus. The hope is to also use farm and large animal clinical facilities in the area.

The proposed project has already been endorsed by the City University Management Board and Faculty Senate.

CSU to study impact of climate change on livestock in developing world

Colorado State University has received a $15 million grant to study the impact of climate change on livestock around the globe, particularly in developing countries.

The U.S. Agency for International Development awarded the grant to the university's Animal Population Health Institute and Institute for Livestock and the Environment. Over the next five years, CSU will develop partnerships for research projects in developing countries in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa and central Asia.

“The risks to livestock and developing livestock industries in these countries as a result of climate change encompass a broad range of issues and challenges—more than may meet the eye of the general observer,” said Dr. Mo Salman, principal investigator for the grant and a professor at the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

The USAID grant will allow scientists from multiple disciplines to study the scope, location, and nature of those impacts so planning for adaptations can begin. Research projects will examine ways to strengthen infrastructure supporting food safety and animal health as well as ways for farmers and herders to optimize livestock production while protecting the environment and animal health.

Indian business invests in Minnesota

The University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine has received $3 million to expand research and teaching in veterinary orthopedic surgery.

The gift is from the Tata Group, a worldwide business conglomerate based in India. Ratan N. Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, was first put in contact with Dr. Michael G. Conzemius, a professor at the veterinary college, in 2008. The $3 million will be used to establish the Tata Group chair in orthopedic surgery, create an endowment supporting research in small animal orthopedic surgery, and develop an exchange program between the University of Minnesota and the Karnataka Veterinary School in Bangalore.

Dr. Conzemius has been appointed to the Tata Group chair in orthopedic surgery. A professor of surgery at the college since 2006, Dr. Conzemius leads a research team that is internationally recognized for basic and applied clinical research in elbow replacement systems, gait analysis, and the genetics of ligament injury and repair.

Funds from the endowment will be used to provide additional support for faculty conducting research in these areas, whereas the exchange program will allow veterinary students and veterinarians from the Karnataka Veterinary School to come to Minnesota to be trained in advanced techniques in veterinary medicine and surgery.

Foundations fund study of cancer in Golden Retrievers

The Golden Retriever Foundation and Morris Animal Foundation have announced a $1 million, three-year study of the two most common cancers in Golden Retrievers, hemangiosarcoma and lymphoma.

Both foundations are funding the project, which is part of Morris' Canine Cancer Campaign to prevent and treat cancer in dogs. Leading the study are Dr. Jaime F. Modiano at the University of Minnesota; Matthew Breen, PhD, at North Carolina State University; and Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, PhD, at the Broad Institute.

The study will investigate mutations involved in the development and progression of hemangiosarcoma and lymphoma in Golden Retrievers. The researchers also will profile the susceptibility of specific tumor types to various chemotherapy compounds.

Texas A&M notches another cloning achievement

Researchers at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences have achieved another cloning milestone with the successful delivery of a foal developed using oocytes from a live mare, which they claim to be the first such clone in the world.

Equine reproduction specialist Dr. Katrin Hinrich said in a college press release that her laboratory has been working on the clone for two years.

The process began with a biopsy of skin cells from a Lippizan stallion, Marc, the horse to be cloned, according to the release. Through the cloning process, viable embryos were developed and sent to Hartman Equine Reproduction Center, an embryo transfer facility in north Texas that works closely with Hinrichs' laboratory, for transfer into surrogate mares. Minnie, the mare carrying Mouse, the cloned foal, stayed in north Texas for approximately 200 days, then was sent to her new home in Florida.

Minnie began to show signs of an early delivery and was taken to the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine for observation and intervention. That's where Mouse arrived and was cared for by a team of neonatal experts.

Currently there are only three laboratories in the world that have reported the successful birth of cloned horses}Texas A&M University, Viagen (a commercial venture based in Austin, Texas), and the laboratory of Dr. Cesare Galli, in Italy, according to the release.

FDA targets medication errors resulting from unclear abbreviations

The Food and Drug Administration and Institute for Safe Medication Practices are campaigning to reduce medication errors resulting from unclear abbreviations in prescriptions. Although the campaign has targeted human drugs, a new publication from the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine explains how such mistakes can occur in veterinary prescriptions.

The publication, “A Microgram of Prevention is Worth a Milligram of Cure: Preventing Medication Errors in Animals,” is available at by clicking on “Resources for You” and then “For Veterinarians.”

The FDA has been looking at error-prone areas of the entire medication-use process—such as similar drug names, incomplete or confusing labels, and lack of education about new products.

The CVM is learning that errors resulting from unclear abbreviations do occur with animal drugs. According to the new publication, the CVM recently received the following reports:

  • • A verbal prescription for a dog for “Leukeran 2 mg SID for 10 days” was transcribed as “BID for 10 days.” The dog was administered the drug twice daily for 10 days and died. The abbreviation “SID” was unfamiliar to the pharmacist, and although the cause of death is unknown, the resulting overdose may have contributed.

  • •A written prescription for a cat for “Ursodiol 250 mg tablet, give ½ tablet SID” was misinterpreted as “give ½ tablet QID.” The cat received an overdose for two days but experienced only diarrhea.

The CVM publication recommends ways for veterinarians to avoid medication errors and encourages veterinarians to report adverse drug events resulting from such errors to help the CVM identify and prevent problems.