AVMA News; Academia; Global Issues; Public Health; The Veterinary Community

Board looks at veterinary economics, other issues

The AVMA Executive Board, while meeting April 7–9, turned its attention to economic challenges currently facing veterinarians and a number of other issues of concern to the profession and the Association.

The board approved the establishment of an ad hoc Economics Vision Steering Committee to initiate the process of creating an economics vision for the veterinary profession and of developing strategic recommendations for the AVMA to take leadership to attain the vision.

The AVMA 20/20 Vision Commission submitted its final report to the board. The board established the commission to create a vision for the Association for the year 2020 that would “position the AVMA as a dynamic association that is increasingly relevant and responsive to the membership and the public.”

The commission presented a vision for the AVMA to advance veterinary medicine as well as the organization by 2020. To achieve the vision, the commission proposed strategic approaches for various aspects of the Association ranging from membership to public awareness to global impact.

The AVMA has posted the commission's report at www.avma.org/2020vision.

In other actions, a committee could begin work in 2012 to promote the AVMA and improve Association benefits for students and veterinarians who are within 15 years of graduation.

The board indicated it is willing to approve spending about $34,000 to form an Early Career Development Committee starting in 2012. The approval is dependent on concurrence by the AVMA Governance Performance Review Committee, but information from the GPRC was not available at press time.

The board also approved spending up to $75,000 in 2012 on the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Experience. But that cost could be split with the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, which will decide on the proposal during an AVMF board of directors meeting in July. The VLE promotes personal development among veterinary students, and the AVMA has been a program sponsor since 2005.

The Association will spend $45,000 annually on the VLE starting in 2013, with the money intended to defray the costs of attendance by one faculty member from each veterinary school represented in the Student AVMA. Sponsorship money for previous years, including 2012, has not been directed toward a specific use.

The board also approved increasing funding for the SAVMA Symposium. The Association gave $25,000 in 2011 and will give $35,000 starting in 2012.

The AVMA is planning to study the economic impact of completing an internship and could later survey members about internship quality and satisfaction.

The board approved spending $5,000 to further analyze data collected through the AVMA Biennial Economic Survey that was conducted in 2010. Citing data from the survey, a report from the Task Force on Veterinary Internships indicates that the mean income of veterinarians who completed internships was lower than that of colleagues who had not.

The report also indicates that the number of internship positions available through the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians' Veterinary Internship and Residency Matching Program increased from 175 in 1988 to 850 in 2009. Thus, the lower salaries for veterinarians who had completed internships could have been skewed by a large number of individuals who were still early in their careers, and the task force indicated the data required further analysis.

The parasitology veterinary specialty practice area gained provisional recognition in April under the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists.

The board approved the provisional recognition on the basis of reviews by the American Board of Veterinary Specialties and the AVMA Council on Education. The COE forwarded a petition submitted by the specialty group's organizing committee and recommended the provisional recognition.

The board approved spending $60,000 in 2012 on an animal welfare symposium focused on euthanasia. The AVMA Panel on Euthanasia and AVMA Animal Welfare Committee jointly proposed conducting the meeting after finding differences among euthanasia recommendations in publications from various scientific, governmental, and nongovernmental organizations.

The AVMA will also convene a Panel on Humane Slaughter tasked with producing AVMA guidance on humane slaughter. The panel was created on the basis of a recommendation from the Panel on Euthanasia, which determined that euthanasia and slaughter differ enough in approach, environment, and expectations that the issues should be addressed separately.

The board decided not to pursue development of a hazardous waste product database, based on results of a survey that indicated such a database would not be widely enough used to justify the expense.

Previously, the board had approved using existing AVMA resources to determine whether such a database was needed by veterinarians. The board had also approved an education campaign regarding hazardous substances and wastes.

Through that campaign, the AVMA provides information at www.avma.org/issues/environment/wastedisposal/ on related subjects including hazardous material handling and disposal, regulated medical waste, and disposal of animal carcasses.

The board approved discontinuing AVMA Ed, the Association's online continuing education program for veterinarians.

The program currently offers 91 CE courses, of which 66 draw on scientific articles from the JAVMA and 25 draw on presentations from the AVMA Annual Convention. AVMA Ed has not met expectations with regard to the number of individuals taking courses or the amount of revenue generated, even after substantial changes were made to the program to improve quality.

A new policy to encourage “Support for Veterinary Extension Services” received board approval, on recommendation of the AVMA Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine, with the support of the AVMA Food Safety Advisory Committee.

The council and committee believe that veterinary extension services are in crisis as changes in funding and support at the state and national levels have eroded educational and outreach capacity. The council and committee recommended adopting a relevant policy to allow the AVMA to advocate for resources to restore the capacity of veterinary extension services.

The Aquatic Veterinary Medicine Committee's charge was edited to expand the group's role in advocacy and promotion of aquatic veterinary medicine at an international level, in addition to existing efforts at local and national levels. The changes also state that the committee should “promote education and training of paraprofessionals in aquatic animal health and care.”

The AVMA will also partner with the AVMF and the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association to give scholarships for veterinary students and new graduates participating in internships, residencies, CE programs, and research projects in aquatic veterinary medicine. The scholarship program was formed in 2010, and it has been overseen by the WAVMA Scholarship Committee, which screens applications and awards scholarships. The AVMF has received donations, administered finances, and distributed scholarships.

Under the agreement, the AVMA would help promote the program and identify potential corporate donors.

Research initiatives focus on animal health, human-animal bond

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation is one of the organizations developing an Animal Health Network to fund research on feline, canine, and equine health, while the AVMA is participating in a Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative to study the health benefits of the human-animal bond.

At its April meeting, the AVMA Executive Board approved recommendations in support of both research initiatives.

For several years, the AVMA Council on Research has been working with the AVMF on plans for an Institute for Companion Animal and Equine Research to fund feline, canine, and equine health studies.

The Council on Research believes that the Animal Health Network now taking shape, with the participation of the AVMF, embodies the concept of the Institute for Companion Animal and Equine Research.

Dr. L. Garry Adams, chair of the AVMF Animal Health Studies Subcommittee, said much of the currently available funding for animal health research is for studies on the health of production animals.

“This is a very exciting development to begin the process of more adequately funding basic and applied research for dogs, cats, and horses,” Dr. Adams said.

The Animal Health Network started in early 2011 with a species-specific pilot effort, the Cat Health Network, to fund feline health studies. The partners in the Cat Health Network are the AVMF, Morris Animal Foundation, Winn Feline Foundation, and American Association of Feline Practitioners.

Morris is providing feline genotyping arrays for the Cat Health Network, and the other three organizations are providing research funds—with about $100,000 to be available annually. The network issued a request for research proposals focusing on genetic causes of, and cures for, feline diseases, with the application deadline in late March.

Dr. Adams said the Animal Health Network eventually will encompass research projects relevant to canine and equine health. He said the hope is to involve practicing veterinarians as a linkage to dog, cat, and horse owners who could provide monetary donations for the research network.

In April, the Council on Research asked that the AVMA board reaffirm the concept of the Institute for Companion Animal and Equine Research to signal support of the AVMF's ongoing efforts to develop the concept, regardless of the name of the final organizational structure. The board approved the recommendation.

Separately, on recommendation of the AVMA Committee on the Human-Animal Bond, the board approved the AVMA becoming a member of the steering committee for the new Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation.

The foundation aims to recognize, advance, and promote the role of companion animals and other animals in the health of families and communities. The founding members are the American Pet Products Association, Petco Animal Supplies Inc., and Pfizer Animal Health.

The first major project of the foundation will be to create an online hub providing access to research and other reliable sources of information on the human-animal bond. Purdue University will develop and host the hub.

SAVMA heading in a new direction

The Student AVMA leaders approved major revisions to their governing documents at the most recent SAVMA House of Delegates and Executive Board meetings.

The meetings took place during the 2011 SAVMA Symposium March 24–25 at the University of California-Davis. More than 1,400 veterinary students attended the weekend event.

For more than a year, the SAVMA leadership has worked to simplify the organization's governance process. The SAVMA HOD voted to approve new bylaws and dissolve the previous SAVMA Constitution at its biannual meeting Aug. 1–2, 2010, in Atlanta.

The SAVMA HOD body finalized these governance changes by revising and updating its HOD manual at the most recent meeting. The SAVMA Executive Board, for its part, approved the creation of its own manual at its meeting.

President Joseph Esch (OSU ′12) said all these changes mean not only that SAVMA is now up-to-date on governance trends and policies but also that there has been a fundamental shift in the way the organization operates.

One of the first steps was taken by the SAVMA HOD when delegates approved guidelines regarding duty hours during clinical rotations for fourth-year students. The document recommends that students not work more than 80 hours a week, not work more than 24 consecutive hours in continuous on-site duty, and be provided with breaks when they are on call.

The guidelines were influenced by the American Medical Association's Resident Work Hours Policy. Esch said the delegates focused on fourth-year rotations because SAVMA doesn't have authority over internship or residency programs. The guidelines will be sent to the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges board of directors and the AVMA Executive Board along with an explanation of the document and reasons for its creation.

AVMA president-elect candidates make their case

On July 15, the AVMA House of Delegates will choose between Dr. Douglas G. Aspros of Pound Ridge, N.Y., and Dr. Gary S. Brown of Princeton, W.Va., as the Association's next president-elect. Both candidates are practitioners and small business owners with extensive experience in organized veterinary medicine, including leadership positions within the AVMA.

In an interview published May 15 in JAVMA News, Drs. Aspros and Brown each explain why he is best-suited to lead the Association and what he wants to accomplish. They respond to questions that include AVMA Council on Education accreditation of foreign veterinary colleges, AVMA initiatives to advance animal welfare, and the veterinary profession's economic health.

The Q-and-A interviews are published online at www.avma.org. Click on JAVMA News, open the May 15, 2011, issue, and select the article “AVMA president-elect candidates make their case.”

We're all in this together

When educators mention campus climate, they aren't referring to weather patterns.

No, they are talking about the prevailing conditions that characterize an institution and how welcoming it is to individuals from underrepresented minority groups. Campus climate is part of how veterinary schools and colleges support and mentor under-represented students, how they recruit these students, the ability of these graduates to do their jobs well, and the experience and productivity of all students and faculty in general. All of these factors can affect a college's quality and value and its ability to carry out its mission, said Frances E. Kendall, PhD, at the 18th Iverson Bell Symposium March 11–12 in Alexandria, Va. This was the first year the symposium was incorporated into the overall Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges Annual Conference.

Dr. Kendall, a national consultant on organizational change, diversity, and “white privilege,” gave a talk at the meeting, titled “Using Climate Surveys to Support Creating an Authentically Diverse and Inclusive College Culture.” She spurred discussion on the current reality at institutions, what can be done to effect positive change, and what individuals are already doing to improve their campus climates.

Also during the symposium, the first session devoted to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues was held.

The presentation, “LGBT Concerns in Veterinary Education and Practice: A Perspective from Medical Education,” was given by Shane Snowdon, founding director of the University of California-San Francisco Center for LGBT Health & Equity.

Snowdon encouraged deans and associate deans to implement best practices at their schools to be more inclusive toward LGBT individuals. This could be something as simple as having a nondiscrimination statement that covers sexual orientation and gender identity. Or, something more could be done, such as having transgender policies, procedures, and accommodations in place.

Some veterinary schools and colleges have already taken the initiative in reaching out to the LGBT community. Tuskegee University, the University of California-Davis, Cornell University, Tufts University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Guelph, and Ross University all have past or current student Lesbian and Gay VMA chapters.

That said, no comprehensive data currently exist on how inclusive each of the 28 veterinary schools and colleges in the U.S. is. And so, a study is currently under way to gauge these institutions' campus climate.

The AVMA and AAVMC launched a voluntary survey in mid-April that is limited to veterinary students. They will be asked about their attitudes toward people different from them, their perceptions, and the activities they participate in. A parallel climate survey for faculty, staff, and administrators will be conducted concurrently. The two surveys are being administered separately but have some shared items so a few direct comparisons can be made.

All responses will be kept confidential; only summary information will be publicly reported. Survey results will likely be released at the AAVMC Annual Conference in March 2012. Leaders at each institution also will receive a raw data file with responses specific to their institution.

The goals of the climate survey are to develop comprehensive national data regarding veterinary students' perceptions of comfort with respect to various forms of personal differences, perceptions concerning tolerance of discriminatory behavior at their school or college, and perceptions of supportiveness.

Using those data, the AAVMC hopes to develop enhanced national diversity programming, guidance on best practices for improving academic environments at AAVMC member institutions, and strategies to enhance retention of a diverse veterinary student body.

Views on NAVMEC draft report shared

Leaders in veterinary academia were asked to give their input on the draft report and recommendations from the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium, and they didn't hold back.

The discussion was held at the 2011 Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges Annual Conference March 10–13 in Alexandria, Va.

The draft report and recommendations were derived from a series of three national meetings held in 2010 to discuss core competencies needed by graduates; to review and explore progress in developing educational models to deliver new approaches to the veterinary curriculum; and to explore relationships between education, accreditation, and licensure. The NAVMEC board of directors took input from the meetings and developed the documents.

Before the report is finalized, the AAVMC sought comments. Participants at this discussion session reflected the composition of AAVMC Annual Conference attendees, who included many deans, other academic administrative leaders, and smaller numbers of faculty from U.S. and foreign veterinary schools.

Some audience members said they were worried the strategic goals were too prescriptive for institutions.

Dr. Bryan K. Slinker, dean of Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, for instance, said he wanted clarification on a subpoint in the first recommendation that states: “All competencies are integrated and taught in every year of the curriculum.” Does this, he asked, mean NAVMEC doesn't want schools to do tracking?

Dr. Willie M. Reed, AAVMC president and dean of Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, assured him that wasn't the case and underscored that it is this type of comment that can help the NAVMEC board of directors review the way recommendations are worded and avoid unintended interpretations.

Some audience members saw promise in alternative educational models as an answer to the fourth NAVMEC strategic goal—ensure that an economically viable system for veterinary medical education is sustained.

Dr. William J. Kay, a private small animal practitioner from Plymouth Meeting, Pa., and former AVMA Council on Education member, asked whether pre-veterinary programs were essential when there are educational models in Australia, Europe, and Latin America that reduce the time students spend seeking their veterinary degree.

Dr. Eleanor M. Green, dean of Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, reminded the audience about the out-of-the-box curriculum proposed at the second NAVMEC meeting. It is an accelerated tracking model that would potentially be a three-year program in which pre-clinical distance learning opportunities would be maximized.

The NAVMEC board of directors meets June 1–2 to develop the final draft report. That document will be submitted to the AAVMC board of directors for final approval at its summer meeting July 18 during the AVMA Annual Convention in St. Louis.

Ross dean retires after school accredited

Dr. David J. DeYoung, dean of Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, announced his retirement April 11, just a month after the school received full accreditation status from the AVMA Council on Education.

Beginning May 9, he will move to a new position of dean emeritus, serving in an advisory role with the university until Sept. 30, when he will officially retire from the profession.

Dr. DeYoung and his wife, Bonnie, moved to St. Kitts in 2003 when he accepted the position as dean of the veterinary school. Dr. DeYoung has focused on improving the veterinary program academically and structurally, according to a Ross press release.

Dr. DeYoung's career has included seven years in private practice and more than 40 years in academic veterinary medicine. Prior to joining Ross, he held several faculty and administrative positions, including associate professor of orthopedic surgery and chief of surgery, Michigan State University; professor and chief of surgery, Department of Clinical Sciences, North Carolina State University; and associate dean and director of veterinary medical services, North Carolina State University.

A 1968 graduate of Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, he is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists and the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. Dr. DeYoung is known internationally for his work in the development of two cementless total hip replacement systems for research and clinical use in dogs.

Ross University has hired an international executive search firm to lead the selection process. Dr. Gilbert A. Burns, dean for faculty and academic programs, has been chosen to serve as interim dean following Dr. DeYoung's departure.

Expert panel to address radiologic impact on animals near Japan nuclear plant

The International Fund for Animal Welfare in April announced a team of radiation and animal rescue experts had been assembled to develop a plan for aiding animals inside the evacuation zone around the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan.

Limited data are available about decontaminating and treating animals affected by radiation, and standards don't exist for determining whether an animal has been exposed to an unsafe level of radiation. Moreover, little is known about the survivability of wildlife and pets, or the viability of farm animals, exposed to radiation.

The goal of the IFAW-led summit is to develop response procedures and protocols to monitor, evacuate, and treat animals contaminated by radiation. Topics that will be addressed include radiation exposure, animal behavior, animal decontamination, animal sheltering and husbandry, wildlife habitat and rehabilitation, and human responder safety.

“We have been interviewing people from the evacuated towns, and we've seen video evidence of a large number of animals, including livestock, horses, and companion animals, that have been left behind,” said Dick Green, IFAW disaster manager.

The team of experts was expected to meet in early May in Tokyo and included representatives of the Japanese and U.S. governments, veterinary and toxicology experts, academicians, and IFAW.

Dr. Lisa A. Murphy, a leading authority in radiologic toxicology in animals, is a team member. In addition to being part of AVMA Veterinary Medical Assistance Team 2, Dr. Murphy is an assistant professor of toxicology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and co-chair of the National Alliance of State Animal and Agricultural Emergency Programs' Best Practice Working Group on Animal Decontamination. Also on the team is Maj. Kelley L. Evans, a staff officer with the U.S. Army Veterinary Command.

The earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck Japan on March 11 caused serious damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. When radiation was detected outside the facility, Japan's government declared a mandatory evacuation of residents within a 12-mile radius of the plant and a voluntary evacuation for residents living within a 12-to 18-mile radius. Research shows that as many as 30 percent of evacuees will attempt to re-enter a disaster zone to rescue pets left behind.

As the recommendations were being developed, an immediate animal relief plan had been recommended to Japanese authorities. The strategy includes setting up feeding stations in the evacuation zones, providing decontamination training to veterinary teams, positioning transport equipment in strategic staging areas, and readying animal shelters for the influx of evacuated animals.

Organization to accredit public health departments

State, local, and tribal health departments will be able to seek accreditation through a program supported by federal health authorities and a philanthropic organization focused on human health.

The Public Health Accreditation Board has tested a preliminary accreditation program with 30 health departments, and information from the board indicates health departments should be able to seek accreditation starting in September. The board is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“The program will improve the quality of services delivered by public health agencies as they work toward accreditation and, when they attain accreditation, reassure the public and officials that their health department is a peak performer,” a CDC announcement states. “For a public health department to be accredited, it must meet stringent requirements for 10 essential areas of public health activities respectively and demonstrate a commitment to constant improvement.”

Liza Corso, acting branch chief for the Agency and Systems Improvement Branch of the CDC's Office for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support, said the board is currently revising the preliminary accreditation program. She expects that the program will show public health departments how they are benefiting their communities and where they can improve.

Corso said the CDC and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation began working in 2004 to determine whether they should support such a national accreditation program. Those efforts led to creation of the Public Health Accreditation Board in 2007, and the CDC and Foundation have worked with and financially supported the board.

Information from the board states that accreditation standards will be based on administrative capacity and governance as well as specified essential services.

AAVMC gives accolades

The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges chose Dr. Richard L. Meadows (TEX ′81) of the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine to receive the 2010 national Pfizer Teaching Award. The AAVMC presented the award during its annual meeting March 10–13 in Alexandria, Va.


Dr. Richard L. Meadows

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 72, 6; 10.2460/ajvr.72.6.721

A diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in the canine and feline category, Dr. Meadows has served as a member of the faculty at Missouri's veterinary college and director of community practice at the college's teaching hospital since 1999. He established the Helping Overpopulation through Education project that allows students to volunteer to assist with neutering clinics in underserved areas.

Dr. Meadows is the faculty adviser for the Pet-Assisted Love and Support program, which brings companion animals to visit people at hospitals and senior centers. He also is a faculty adviser for the college's student chapter of the AVMA.

Also during the AAVMC meeting, Dr. Willie M. Reed (TUS ′78) was presented the Iverson Bell Recognition Award for his leadership and contributions in promoting opportunities in veterinary education for underrepresented minorities. Since 2007, he has been dean of Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine. Under Dr. Reed's guidance, the school's 2008–2014 strategic plan affirms its commitment to promoting a work and learning environment dedicated to diversity. He established the school's Office of Diversity Initiatives and, in 2009, appointed a Diversity Action Committee.


Dr. Willie M. Reed

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 72, 6; 10.2460/ajvr.72.6.721

Also during Dr. Reed's tenure, the school established the Access to Animal-Related Careers program to bring high-ability students from under-represented minorities to Purdue for a residential immersion experience, and the Common Reading Program for incoming veterinary students to discuss how discrimination and stereotyping can occur in a clinical environment. In 2010, the school was awarded a $136,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture multicultural scholars program grant to support recruitment and retention of underrepresented students.