Measuring expectations, needs
About two-thirds of AVMA members in a recent survey indicated that they were satisfied overall with the Association, comparing favorably with the 10 percent who were dissatisfied and the 22 percent who gave neutral answers.
In addition, when presented with a list of statements reflecting the AVMA's goals, a majority of respondents expressed agreement with each statement. On the other hand, nearly a quarter expressed dislike of some aspect of the AVMA's views or decision-making process, and many members responded that they don't think they have an effect on the organization's decisions.
The AVMA Member Needs Assessment Survey, which is conducted every five years, received responses from about 2,600 veterinarians and 300 fourth-year veterinary students. The AVMA completed its analysis of the results in November 2011 and provided a summary of those findings this summer.
The AVMA will use the results to help determine the direction of programs and make sure members know about them and how to find them.
Dr. Kevin Dajka, director of the AVMA Membership and Field Services Division, said the survey results indicate that the Veterinary Career Center, for example, provides job postings and is the type of service highly valued among members, but few know about it. The AVMA affinity program that offers discounts from National Car Rental is little-known and little-valued by members, while AVMA-affiliated insurance programs are well-known and highly valued.
A summary document from the Communications Division states that respondents most wanted improvements in AVMA's achievement of goals involving advocacy, animal welfare, education standards, and unification of the profession.
About 10 percent of respondents said there was a lack of support by AVMA for their area of veterinary medicine, which Dr. Douglas G. Aspros, AVMA president, said was unavoidable. He said the AVMA tries to address concerns of the whole veterinary profession, and, at times, some segments will feel underserved.
The summary report indicates nearly a quarter of respondents expressed dislike for some aspect of AVMA culture, and Dr. René A. Carlson, AVMA immediate past president, said some specified that they think the Association takes too long to make decisions, has old-fashioned views, or has leaders who are out of touch. She said that seems to be a lingering perception from the past.
Only half of survey respondents think the Association's governance structure gives them a voice. Dr. Carlson expects the governance structure will change in the coming years after a task force concludes its study of the Association's governance, and she noted that other changes already have increased members' involvement.
For example, she said the AVMA asks members increasingly often for input on strategy and for comments on proposed animal welfare policies.
Dr. Ted Cohn, former AVMA Executive Board chair, said the AVMA needs to mine the survey data and conduct follow-up studies, as well as meet the challenges of giving members the services they want and improving communications with them.
AVMA unveils website redesign
The AVMA website has thousands upon thousands of pages of content, along with free member discussion boards, but many members are unfamiliar with the breadth and depth of the Association's online resources.
Now the Association has redesigned www.avma.org to make it easier for members to find the information they want and to interact with other members and the AVMA. The new site went live Aug. 1.
The foundation of the new website is a new content management system that improves functionality and provides flexibility for making future enhancements. A group of members participated in content-sorting exercises to help create the new website architecture in the content management system.
Reconstruction of the website also has involved a visual redesign and meticulous transfer of almost all the content from the old site.
One of the key features of the redesigned website is a new platform for member discussion boards. The AVMA has offered free member discussion boards for years, but the old platform was unwieldy.
Another key feature of the new website is personalization for members. Members can log on to the website and indicate the species, disciplines, and other topics of interest to them. Then, relevant items will appear on their personalized home page.
The new site also offers a display designed especially for mobile devices.
Recent graduates can join online community
The AVMA launched the Early Career Online Community on June 15 as a place for members who have graduated within the past five years to connect and find support during the transition from veterinary student to working veterinarian.
The closed Facebook group provides a forum for recent graduates to voice concerns and receive feedback on topics such as finding a niche in veterinary medicine while juggling family, friends, bills, and loans. Participants can learn about and influence AVMA policies, services, and programs. They can explore and suggest ideas for educational opportunities and options for getting more involved in organized veterinary medicine.
Members of the AVMA who have graduated within the past five years can join the online community by filling out a brief participation form available at http://bit.ly/LLXPZ9.
Board meets in D.C.
The AVMA Executive Board traveled to the Washington, D.C., area to hold its June meeting and advocate for the profession on Capitol Hill.
During the June 7–9 meeting in Alexandria, Va., the board took a variety of actions. Among them was approval of a plan for soliciting input on policy from AVMA members.
As a pilot project, the Association created an online portal in 2010 to allow members to comment on policies being developed or reviewed by the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee. The Association also has solicited comments recently on revisions to its euthanasia guidelines, model veterinary practice act, and strategic plan.
In June, the board approved a plan to allow AVMA members to comment on policies being developed or reviewed by various entities.
The plan is for the Association's staff to create a new online portal for member input in conjunction with the second phase of the redesign of the AVMA website. After the portal has been available for six months, the Association will assess member response to the opportunity and the usefulness of comments to entities.
The board's visit to Capitol Hill began with a lunch reception where the board mingled with Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon, the only veterinarian in Congress, and half a dozen other members of Congress.
Following the reception, the board members visited the offices of their legislators. A group of AVMA leaders also met with Republican Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska, former U.S. secretary of agriculture.
Along with other issues, board members spoke with legislators and legislators' staff about the Fairness to Pet Owners Act (H.R. 1406). The AVMA is actively pursuing defeat of the legislation, which would mandate that veterinarians write prescriptions and provide written notification to clients of the option to fill prescriptions at an off-site pharmacy.
Task force to aid AJVR evaluation
A group of five veterinarians will help AVMA leaders figure out the best way to evaluate the quality and direction of the American Journal of Veterinary Research.
The AVMA Executive Board voted in June to create the five-member Task Force on AJVR. Three of the task force members will represent the Executive Board, and one each will represent the AVMA Council on Research and academia.
The task force will not evaluate the AJVR, but rather, develop a strategy that the board could use to evaluate the quality and direction of the journal.
The board created the group in response to a recommendation by the Council on Research to separate the editorial leadership of the JAVMA from that of the AJVR, seek a “high-profile” scientist to serve as editor of the AJVR, establish an independent AJVR editorial board, and develop goals to improve the AJVR. Examples of such goals include shortening the time from manuscript submission to a decision on acceptance and improving the research journal's ranking in the Journal Citation Report Impact Factor.
Dr. Joseph H. Kinnarney, who represents Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee on the Executive Board, said the board members decided to create the task force because they had an increasing number of unanswered questions as they deliberated over the council's recommendation. The task force could, for example, help the board evaluate the time frame between article submission and publication and consider what types of research papers should be included in the AJVR.
FMD vaccine first allowed to be made in U.S.
A foot-and-mouth disease vaccine developed by federal researchers can be manufactured in the U.S. and could be administered if an outbreak were to occur.
The adenovirus vaccine, which the Department of Agriculture conditionally approved in June, can be manufactured on the U.S. mainland because it does not contain live virus.
Marvin J. Grubman, PhD, a supervisory research chemist for the USDA Agricultural Research Service, has led since the late 1990s the research effort that created the vaccine at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, which is located off the tip of New York's Long Island. He and other researchers are now working to increase the potency of the vaccine in hopes of decreasing its cost to at least that for inactivated-virus vaccines.
Dr. Luis L. Rodriguez, the ARS research leader at Plum Island, said the vaccine has induced immunity in cattle and pigs within seven days.
The Department of Homeland Security, with ARS and industry collaboration, further developed the vaccine and conducted research needed to gain the conditional license.
Dr. Rodriguez said the vaccine can be manufactured safely without use of highly secure biological containment facilities. It also lacks the genes for several proteins that are present in the live virus, offering protection while inducing an identifiable difference in an animal's immune response.
Dr. Rodriguez said global control and eradication of foot-and-mouth disease could require a vaccine with longer duration of immunity than the six months provided by inactivated-virus vaccines. The adenovirus vaccine has offered protection for at least 42 days, but the agency hasn't tested beyond that point.
He also noted that there are seven FMD virus serotypes and additional subtypes, each requiring separate vaccines. He said much of the FMD vaccine research is focused on developing vaccines that induce broader immune responses that can protect against multiple serotypes.
Flaws seen in risk analysis of Kansas disease center
A recent report contends the Department of Homeland Security inadequately characterized the risks connected with operating a proposed national defense facility for animal disease research.
The report by the National Research Council for the National Academies does not indicate whether the proposed National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility would be safe, but rather, analyzes the methods used and conclusions reached by Homeland Security when it published its risk assessment in February.
The NRC report was published in June, and it commends Homeland Security and its contractors for their efforts to assess the risks associated with the facility, which is planned for Manhattan, Kan. But the committee concluded that the department likely underestimated many risks, such as those associated with operations, and may have overestimated other risks, such as the potential for release of foot-and-mouth disease virus following an earthquake or tornado.
Nicole Stickel, a Homeland Security spokeswoman, provided a statement that the report confirms the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility is critical for the nation and it has sound design plans that conform to, and improve on, accepted, stringent containment standards. The assessment findings will be incorporated into future NBAF plans and processes.
The Kansas facility would replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, off the coast of Long Island, New York. Unlike the Plum Island facility, the NBAF would have biosafety level 4 laboratories, which have the highest level of biological security and are needed to safely study pathogens such as the Nipah and Hendra viruses, according to Homeland Security.
The NRC report is available at www.nap.edu/catalog.php?recordid=13418.
Major construction project on horizon at Texas A&M
Administrators at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences are looking forward to a multimillion-dollar renovation and expansion project in the coming years.
The $120 million capital project will add a veterinary education building and an extension to the small animal hospital. It will be one of the largest construction projects in the history of the university, according to a Texas A&M press release.
The new building will house classroom and teaching laboratory space that will enhance the learning environment for students. Some of the additions possible for the new classrooms include simulation laboratories and distance technology.
Site visits from the AVMA Council on Education and Texas A&M administrators noted the need for improvements in the college's teaching facilities, especially to keep pace with the “dynamic growth” in the veterinary profession, according to the release.
Plans were approved Feb. 3 by the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. Money for the project will come entirely from the Permanent University Fund, which was established in the Texas Constitution of 1876 as a public endowment contributing to the support of the institutions of the Texas A&M and University of Texas systems.
With the facilities added to the capital plan, the veterinary college's administrative team is in the midst of the planning and design process.
And although a completion date has yet to be established, “In 2016, we will be celebrating our 100th anniversary. It would be outstanding if we were able to step into our new facilities as we step into a new century,” said Dean Eleanor M. Green.
That is also the year the veterinary college is slated for its next COE site visit.
K-State has new computational medicine institute
Noted pharmacologist Dr. Jim E. Riviere will leave North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine after more than 30 years for an opportunity at Kansas State University.
Starting Aug. 1, Dr. Riviere will hold an endowed professorship in the Department of Anatomy and Physiology at KSU's veterinary college.
He will also direct the newly created Institute of Computational Comparative Medicine, which applies mathematical models to improve animal health and food safety.
The Kansas Bioscience Authority will pay $4.9 million over five years to fund Dr. Riviere's research and fund the hiring of four faculty at the assistant professor level to support the institute.
It will take a while to build the institute, Dr. Riviere said, but he wants to develop computational medicine capabilities focused on areas of veterinary medicine ranging from toxicology to pharmacology. He's hoping discoveries at the institute could decrease the number of animals required for drug approvals and improve the ability to get drugs on the market much faster.
Aside from the greater emphasis on animal health, Dr. Riviere said part of the reason he is moving to K-State is that it will provide a more stable environment for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank. He is co-founder and director of FARAD, a nationally funded, computer-based support system that provides information to producers and veterinarians about drug residues, including withdrawal times. In 2013, KSU will join the University of California-Davis, the University of Florida, and NCSU in running FARAD.
“That will broaden its base and, I think, will add a strong beef cattle component to it,” he said.
Former Auburn veterinary dean now provost
Dr. Timothy Boosinger was named provost and vice president for academic affairs at Auburn University, June 22. From 1995–2011, he served as dean of Auburn's College of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Boosinger had been interim provost at Auburn since June 2011. He will continue to oversee the academic programming for 12 colleges and be responsible for advancing the university's strategic plan.
Under his leadership as dean, the veterinary college made more than $41 million in capital improvements, exclusive of the $13.5 million State Diagnostic Laboratory, which was completed in 2006 and contains biosafety level 2 and level 3 laboratories.
Dr. Boosinger earned his DVM degree from Purdue University in 1976, followed by an active-duty tour with the U.S. Air Force. He returned to Purdue in 1979 to begin work on his doctorate in veterinary pathology. Dr. Boosinger received his doctorate in 1983 and joined Auburn as an assistant professor in the Department of Pathology. He became a diplomate with the American College of Veterinary Pathologists in 1987.
Prior to being appointed dean of the veterinary college, Dr. Boosinger served as the associate dean for academic affairs from 1993–1995. He has served multiple terms as a university senator and has chaired search committees for university leadership positions.
Dr. Boosinger served on the AVMA Council on Education from 2001–2007 in addition to serving as an officer for the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges from 2006–2009. He was AAVMC president in 2007–2008.
Dr. Calvin M. Johnson is acting as interim dean of the Auburn veterinary college.
Heartworm society requests proposals
The American Heartworm Society invites researchers to submit proposals for presentation of papers on their current studies at the society's 14th Triennial Symposium, Sept. 8–10, 2013, in New Orleans. The submission deadline is Oct. 15, 2012. The society also invites veterinarians to comment on what they would like to see presented at the symposium.
The symposium provides a forum for those working at the cutting edge of animal and human filarial disease research to engage in productive dialogue with veterinary practitioners and industry representatives.
The AHS is headquartered in Wilmington, Del. Submissions for the symposium should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and include the submitter's name, title, address, phone and fax numbers, and email address.
USDA seeks professionals for emergency response
The Department of Agriculture's National Animal Health Emergency Response Corps seeks to expand its roster of veterinary professionals who are willing to respond to animal health emergencies. Details are available at http://naherc.aphis.usda.gov.
Veterinary sports medicine, rehabilitation diplomates announced
In May, nine candidates were certified as specialists in canine sports medicine and rehabilitation, and 11 candidates were certified as specialists in equine sports medicine and rehabilitation. They successfully completed the first board examinations in those specialty areas, given May 12–13 at the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing. The new diplomates are as follows:
Mary Sarah Bergh, Ames, Iowa
Debra Canapp, Annapolis Junction, Md.
Jacqueline R. Davidson, College Station, Texas
Marti Drum, Knoxville, Tenn.
Felix Duerr, Fort Collins, Colo.
Tara Edwards, Toronto
Bruno Massat, Winchester, Mass.
Julia Tomlinson, Burnsville, Minn.
Ned Williams, Wilmington, N.C.
Canine sports medicine and rehabilitation
Katherine J. Allen, Bristol, England
Florent David, Dublin
Michael Davis, Stillwater, Okla.
Todd Holbrook, Stillwater, Okla.
Hank Jann, Stillwater, Okla.
Melissa King, Fort Collins, Colo.
Omar Maher, Dover, N.H.
Alison Morton, Gainesville, Fla.
W. Michael Scott, Rocky View County, Alberta
Roland Thaler, Metamora, Mich.
Stefan Witte, Bern, Switzerland
Equine sports medicine and rehabilitation
The charter diplomates in veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation, installed last year, are as follows:
Henry S. Adair III, Knoxville, Tenn.
Steven P. Arnoczky, East Lansing, Mich.
Linda Blythe, Corvallis, Ore.
Sherman O. Canapp Jr., Annapolis Junction, Md.
Hilary M. Clayton, East Lansing, Mich.
James L. Cook, Columbia, Mo.
Jon Dee, Hollywood, Fla.
Anna Firshman, St. Paul, Minn.
David D. Frisbie, Fort Collins, Colo.
Robert Gillette, Auburn, Ala.
Carol Gillis, Aiken, S.C.
Raymond J. Geor, East Lansing, Mich.
Kevin K. Haussler, Fort Collins, Colo.
Andris Kaneps, Dover, N.H.
Christopher E. Kawcak, Fort Collins, Colo.
Denis Marcellin-Little, Raleigh, N.C.
C. Wayne McIlwraith, Fort Collins, Colo.
Erica McKenzie, Corvallis, Ore.
Darryl Millis, Knoxville, Tenn.
William Moyer, College Station, Texas
Virgina B. Reef, Kennett Square, Pa.
Janet E. Steiss, Sanger, Texas
Robert A. Taylor, Denver
Stephanie J. Valberg, St. Paul, Minn.
Janet B. Van Dyke, Wellington, Fla.
Joseph J. Wakshlag, Ithaca, N.Y.
M. Christine Zink, Baltimore