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    Dr. Wendy Gwin, a radiologist at BluePearl Veterinary Partners, examines radiographs. (Courtesy of BluePearl Veterinary Partners)

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    Dr. Victoria Kartashova

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    Shaina Brown, a veterinary student at Colorado State University, presents research findings to Dr. Susan VandeWoude, who is associate dean for research and graduate education at CSU's College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. (Courtesy of Boehringer Ingelheim)

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    Dr. Dan Grooms

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JAVMA News Digest

Specialists in short supply

Dr. Wendy Gwin, a radiologist at BluePearl Veterinary Partners, examines radiographs. (Courtesy of BluePearl Veterinary Partners)

In August, the American College of Veterinary Radiology had 70 job listings.

Dr. Tod Drost, the college's executive director, said 10 were for jobs at universities and 60 for private practice. Last year, there were 43 new diplomates of the ACVR.

The shortfall is similar, if less severe, in other specialties.

Dr. Calvin Johnson is president of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, dean of the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, and a board-certified anatomic pathologist. Veterinary specialists

Specialists in short supply

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Dr. Wendy Gwin, a radiologist at BluePearl Veterinary Partners, examines radiographs. (Courtesy of BluePearl Veterinary Partners)

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 79, 11; 10.2460/ajvr.79.11.1116

In August, the American College of Veterinary Radiology had 70 job listings.

Dr. Tod Drost, the college's executive director, said 10 were for jobs at universities and 60 for private practice. Last year, there were 43 new diplomates of the ACVR.

The shortfall is similar, if less severe, in other specialties.

Dr. Calvin Johnson is president of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, dean of the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, and a board-certified anatomic pathologist. Veterinary specialists are vital to universities for classroom teaching, conducting research that advances the veterinary profession, and training students, interns, and residents.

“Every specialist is in demand,” he said. “Most colleges of veterinary medicine have very active searches going on almost constantly—multiple searches.”

Dr. Jimmy Barr, chief medical officer for BluePearl Veterinary Partners, said the company employs about 400 full-time specialists at 70 specialty hospitals—numbers rising to meet pet owners’ expectations that their pets will receive advanced care.

Even in private practice, the demand for specialists has outstripped supply, and Dr. Barr expects the gap will keep growing.

Dr. Barbara Lightner, director of medical recruiting for MedVet Medical and Cancer Centers for Pets, said pet owners are learning what specialty care is available for their pets, and they want to give them care comparable to what human family members would receive. MedVet employs about 300 veterinarians at 22 hospitals, with practitioners in 17 specialties.

Dr. N. Bari Olivier, chair of the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, said the need for “-ology” faculty—specialists in cardiology or neurology, for example—is acute. All four of Michigan State's radiology positions have been empty for more than a year.

The U.S. is adding specialists at a faster rate than veterinarians overall, up 47 percent from 2007–17, a period during which the overall veterinarian population grew by almost a third, according to AVMA data.

Specialists remain a fraction of the profession: 13,000 of the estimated 111,000 U.S. veterinarians. But data available from the biggest residency matching program indicate hundreds who want to become specialists are turned away because of a lack of openings.

This year, about 1,100 veterinarians applied for residency matching through the Veterinary Internship and Residency Matching Program, operated by the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians, and 340 (31 percent) were matched, according to program data. About 160 of them took internships, and 600 were unmatched.

Of those applicants, 94 sought placement in the 16 available diagnostic imaging and radiology residencies. It was the third-most wanted category behind small animal surgery, for which 222 applied for 45 positions, and small animal medicine, for which 109 applied for 46 positions.

Dr. Drost said the ACVR has between 550 and 600 diplomates, most of whom work in private practice, whether in a hospital or doing remote consulting.

“We don't have the capacity at the present moment to train enough radiologists to meet that demand,” he said. “So, it's a good time to be a radiologist, but we also feel the pinch that we don't have enough people in all of those jobs.”

Dr. Drost also is a professor at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, which, in August, had three radiologists and openings for two more. He said several veterinary colleges in North America had none and, so, no programs to train more.

An institution with at least two radiologists can start, continue, or resurrect a residency program, Dr. Drost said. Training any specialist takes time and effort.

Condensed from Oct. 15, 2018, JAVMA News

Taking on obesity as a disease

The veterinary profession should formally recognize canine and feline obesity as a disease, according to a position statement from the Global Pet Obesity Initiative. The statement also calls for the profession to adopt a uniform definition of canine and feline obesity as 30 percent above ideal weight and a universal system for body condition scoring on a scale of 1 to 9.

The AVMA Board of Directors endorsed the position statement in April. At July's AVMA Convention 2018 in Denver, the AVMA Future Leaders Program introduced Promise: A Campaign for Healthy Weight Management, which revolves around a toolkit to help AVMA members address the excess weight so common now in cats, dogs, and even horses.

On July 16, a series of three sessions covered human and pet obesity, practical weight-loss strategies for pets, and the new toolkit. Key elements of the toolkit include client questionnaires, questionnaire interpretation sheets for veterinary staff, examples of 30-day pledges clients can make to help their pets, templates for follow-up communication by staff, and tips on communication techniques for staff.

“The veterinarian in practice asks questions using motivational interviewing to find out what the root cause is of the obesity in the pet and then help think through some pledges that the client could do at home,” said Dr. Alina Vale, a participant in the Future Leaders Program.

The obesity toolkit is available to AVMA members online at www.avma.org/animalobesity. Along with the campaign materials, the website provides links to other resources to help veterinarians manage overweight and obese pets.

Condensed from Oct. 1, 2018, JAVMA News

Handle with care

The need for care for pets belonging to older populations is only going to climb, said Dr. Kimberly Pope-Robinson, a board member of the Human Animal Bond Association.

“There is a growing trend of people wanting pets in their lives more,” she said. “What this means for veterinarians is, while they are primarily concerned with the health of the pet, the owner's health, too, may also need to be taken into consideration. This is particularly true for aging owners, along with those with disabilities.”

Emma K. Grigg, PhD, is a certified applied animal behaviorist and a research associate at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. She said some of the challenges those with disabilities face are a difficulty in accessing services and a lack of training to make sure their needs are met by service providers.

Veterinarians can ensure the best possible care for patients by helping animal owners access and navigate the physical space of the clinic safely and comfortably, allowing some extra time for the visit, and finding ways to communicate that work for the client.

Approaches could include finding another suitable location if the examination room is not big enough to hold a client's wheelchair or other items, scheduling appointments at slower times of day to allow enough time, and simply asking what the client needs during the visit.

“Client needs vary by disability. So when in doubt, ask the client,” Dr. Grigg said. “This may require altering ways of the practice to meet a client's needs.”

Condensed from Oct. 1, 2018, JAVMA News

Taking mental health in a positive direction

Leaders from the AVMA and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the veterinary licensing body for the U.K., started a conversation a few years ago about how to work collaboratively and share best practices to help practitioners improve their mental health.

Recently, the two organizations released a joint statement relating to improving veterinary mental health and well-being, with its corresponding benefit to the profession and to animal and public health. “Joint Statement on Veterinary Mental Health and Wellbeing” is available at https://jav.ma/jointstatement.

Dr. Stuart Reid, former RCVS president and principal of the Royal Veterinary College in London, said the overall goal is to provide welcoming support, training, and a culture change to the entire profession all over the world.

“If we wanted to capture people's attention, we could focus on the negative,” Dr. Reid said. “That's just the nature of the beast—that grabs the headlines. We have a responsibility to educate proportionately and appropriately. Well-being is a much bigger picture. It's about developing life skills to enable us all to enjoy the positive aspects of the profession.

Jen Brandt, PhD, AVMA director of member well-being and diversity initiatives, said the AVMA and RCVS are also looking at developing case studies, sharing speakers for conferences, and implementing each others’ existing programs. For example, the RCVS wants to learn more about the training program the AVMA offers to help members identify and aid individuals who may be at risk for suicide.

Condensed from Oct. 15, 2018, JAVMA News

ECFVG helps foreign veterinary graduates achieve American dream

Dr. Victoria Kartashova received a veterinary degree in her native Russia, then came to San Francisco looking for adventure.

After working several odd jobs, she decided she wanted to become a full-time veterinarian. The AVMA Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates helped make that happen. Today, Dr. Kartashova is living the American dream.

Since the inception of the current certification program in 1973, the ECFVG has certified nearly 6,500 graduates of foreign veterinary colleges as having met the educational prerequisites for licensure. The program has evolved over the decades, but it continues to provide a way for foreign and American participants to practice veterinary medicine in the United States.

To achieve ECFVG certification, candidates must submit a diploma and transcripts from a veterinary college recognized by the AVMA, provide proof of English language ability, pass the Basic and Clinical Sciences Examination, and pass the Clinical Proficiency Examination.

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Dr. Victoria Kartashova

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 79, 11; 10.2460/ajvr.79.11.1116

Dr. Kartashova earned her veterinary degree in 2006 from Voronezh State Agricultural University in Voronezh, Russia. Then she moved to San Francisco.

She worked for security services, at coffee shops, and as a babysitter. She eventually found a job as a veterinary assistant at Ocean Avenue Veterinary Hospital in San Francisco.

Dr. Kartashova began studying for the ECFVG examinations. The biggest challenge for her was passing the English test.

She earned her ECFVG certificate in 2016, a decade after earning her veterinary degree. She took a week off to prepare mentally for the transition from veterinary assistant to veterinarian at the same hospital.

Condensed from Oct. 15, 2018, JAVMA News

What veterinarians need to know about the opioid epidemic

Recognizing a lack of information tailored specifically for veterinary medicine, the Food and Drug Administration over the summer issued a new resource for veterinarians who stock and administer opioids, available at https://jav.ma/fda_opi.

The new FDA resource offers six steps veterinarians can take to curb abuse. In addition to complying with all state and federal regulations concerning prescribing opioids, veterinarians are encouraged to use nonopioid alternatives when possible and to consider nonopioid protocols developed by the International Association of Veterinary Pain Management, the American Animal Hospital Association, and the American Association of Feline Practitioners.

Veterinarians should know what to do if a pet overdoses on fentanyl or other opioids, according to the FDA resource. Narcotics detection dogs are particularly at risk as they may inhale the powdered form of fentanyl and fentanyl-related drugs, which are potent in small amounts. Veterinarians can contact the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine's emergency hotline for suspected cases of canine opioid overdoses.

Veterinarians should have a safety plan in the event they encounter a situation involving opioid diversion or clients seeking opioids under the guise of treating their pets. Local police departments can advise veterinarians about what to do in these situations.

The FDA resource states that clients may be abusing opioids in the following situations: suspect injuries in a new patient or clients asking for specific medications by name, asking for refills for lost or stolen medications, or being insistent in their request.

Warning signs that veterinary staff may be abusing opioids include mood swings, anxiety, or depression; mental confusion and an inability to concentrate; making frequent mistakes at work; and not showing up for work.

Condensed from Oct. 15, 2018, JAVMA News

Student researchers show value of medical studies

Hundreds of veterinary students presented research results and heard how they are contributing to global health.

About 550 veterinary student investigators were among the 660 attendees at this year's National Veterinary Scholars Symposium, held Aug. 2–4 at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. The event is a showcase for research by veterinary students who finished research internships this summer.

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Shaina Brown, a veterinary student at Colorado State University, presents research findings to Dr. Susan VandeWoude, who is associate dean for research and graduate education at CSU's College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. (Courtesy of Boehringer Ingelheim)

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 79, 11; 10.2460/ajvr.79.11.1116

Dr. Roger Smith, a coordinator of this year's symposium and a professor of veterinary pathobiology at Texas A&M, said the event lets students not only show what they have accomplished but also see what others have done and meet peers, faculty members, and representatives of the institutions that are accepting applications for residencies and graduate programs. It also is a wonderful opportunity, he said, to learn more about the state of research in veterinary medicine and comparative biomedicine.

Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe, CEO of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, said this year's attendees included students from Canada, France, and, for the first time, Germany. All of the students he met described how much they enjoyed their research experience and said they would at least consider careers in biomedical research.

“We certainly don't expect all of these students to pursue careers in research,” he said. “But every single one of them has a better understanding of the biomedical research enterprise and how it serves as the foundation for a science-based profession and evidence-based medicine.”

Condensed from Oct. 1, 2018, JAVMA News

AVMA presents Excellence in Research Awards

Four veterinarians received the AVMA Excellence in Research Awards during the National Veterinary Scholars Symposium, Aug. 2–4 at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

Dr. Jörg M. Steiner received the AVMA Career Achievement Award in Canine Research. A 1992 veterinary graduate of Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, Dr. Steiner is director of the Gastrointestinal Laboratory and a professor of small animal gastroenterology and nutrition at the Texas A&M veterinary college. Dr. Steiner is involved in research in small animal and comparative gastroenterology.

Dr. Brian Gilger (Ohio State ‘87) received the AVMA Clinical Research Award. Dr. Gilger is a professor of ophthalmology at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. His research has focused on innovative delivery of ocular drugs, immune-mediated ocular diseases, and wound healing.

Dr. Philip R. Fox (Ohio State ‘78) received the American Veterinary Medical Foundation/Winn Feline Foundation Research Award. Dr. Fox is head of cardiology and director of the Caspary Research Institute at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. His research interests include congestive heart failure, feline and canine cardiomyopathies, evidence-based medicine, and cardiovascular pathology.

Dr. Barry T. Rouse received the AVMA Lifetime Excellence in Research Award. A 1965 veterinary graduate of the University of Bristol in England, Dr. Rouse is a professor in the Department of Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Rouse is widely recognized for his research in viral immunology and immunopathology, working mainly with herpes simplex virus in mice.

Condensed from Oct. 1, 2018, JAVMA News

Grooms named dean of Iowa State veterinary college

Dr. Dan Grooms, professor and chair of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, has been appointed the next Stephen G. Juelsgaard Dean of Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He begins Oct. 1.

“Dr. Grooms is an accomplished scientist, teacher and leader who will build on the college's reputation for excellence and the great achievements of our students, faculty and staff,” said President Wendy Wintersteen in an Aug. 1 ISU press release.

Dr. Grooms, an expert in bovine infectious diseases, earned two degrees from The Ohio State University—his veterinary degree in 1989 and a doctorate in veterinary preventive medicine in 1997. He joined Michigan State in 1997 and was promoted to department chair of large animal clinical sciences in 2014.

Dr. Grooms holds board certification from the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists in veterinary virology, is a former president of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, and has served on the U.S. secretary of agriculture's Committee on Animal Health.

Greg Lear, chair of the Iowa Livestock Health Advisory Council, said in a release: “Dr. Grooms is the right person to continue the college's great tradition of serving the education and research needs of students, as well as Iowa's producers. He has great perspective as a ‘farm kid’ who grew up with 4-H and FFA, has work experience in a mixed animal practice, and a history of working with practicing veterinarians through extension programs.”

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Dr. Dan Grooms

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 79, 11; 10.2460/ajvr.79.11.1116

Condensed from Oct. 1, 2018, JAVMA News

ISU to host drug resistance institute

Iowa State University will be home to a national institute on reducing the risk from antimicrobial resistance.

ISU and the University of Nebraska will together spend about $1.6 million in the next three years to support the Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education. Dr. Paul J. Plummer, executive director of the institute and an associate professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine at ISU, said the institute will be a stand-alone entity, intended to help researchers secure grants, find studies related to their own, and collaborate.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges selected ISU among nine hosting bids. In 2015, a task force from those organizations published a report that described the need for research on antimicrobial resistance and called for creation of such an institute.

Dr. Plummer said building a national research network will involve building on ISU's regional network, the Antimicrobial Resistance Consortium. University information states that more than 60 investigators are part of the consortium's team combating the threat of antimicrobial resistance.

Condensed from Oct. 1, 2018, JAVMA News

American College of Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology

The American College of Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology welcomed three new diplomates following the board certification examination it held June 12 in Seattle. The new diplomates are as follows: Patrick Gorden, Ames, Iowa Mary Robinson, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania Andrew Woodward, Werribee, Australia

From Oct. 15, 2018, JAVMA News.