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Veterinary technician week celebrates resilience

The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America is once again championing National Veterinary Technician Week, which is Oct. 16-22 this year.

The week celebrates, recognizes, and promotes the valuable contributions that credentialed veterinary technicians make to the veterinary profession and society.

“This year’s celebration focuses on the resiliency of veterinary technicians,” said Ashli Selke, NAVTA president. “Resilience won’t make your problems go away, but being resilient can give you the ability to see past your problems and better handle stress and change. This incredible asset makes veterinary technicians the heart of veterinary medicine.”

Hill’s Pet Nutrition, which sponsors the week, is providing funding for social media and public relations outreach. Hill’s field representatives will also deliver NVTW posters and other goodies to their clients.

Visit jav.ma/vettechweek for information on NVTW events and to download NAVTA’s 2022 NVTW poster or access sample press releases and public service announcements, presentation and event ideas, and more.

Blood-derived products demystified for equine practitioners

Equine blood, plasma, and serum products are highly regulated, and practitioners may open themselves up to legal enforcement if they use illegally manufactured products.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Infectious Disease Committee recently released the white paper “USDA (United States Dept of Agriculture) and CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) Regulation of Equine Plasma & Serum Products for the Equine Practitioner” about these products to help AAEP members in the U.S. and Canada navigate this area of veterinary medicine.

The authors emphasize the fact that there are currently no Food and Drug Administration–licensed equine blood-derived products, so the paper focuses solely on regulation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Veterinary Biologics of equine serum and plasma products.

The white paper provides a list of references containing general background information and guidance for clinical application, information on how a veterinarian can verify a licensed product with a specific therapeutic claim, and lists of USDA- and CFIA-licensed equine antibody products, of which there are less than 20 total.

“The AAEP and AVMA PLIT recommends that veterinarians use licensed products whenever possible, as these products have been tested and shown to be safe and effective for their labeled use(s),” the authors write.

The paper is available at jav.ma/plasmawhitepaper.

EDUCATION COUNCIL SCHEDULES SITE VISITS

The AVMA Council on Education has scheduled site visits to six schools and colleges of veterinary medicine for the remainder of 2022.

Comprehensive site visits are planned for the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 2-6; Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 16-20; the University of Guelph Ontario Veterinary College, Oct. 23-27; and the University of Edinburgh Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in Scotland, Oct. 30-Nov. 4.

Verification site visits, serving as a follow-up to site visits conducted previously on a virtual basis, are planned for the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 24-27, and the University College Dublin School of Veterinary Medicine, Nov. 6-9.

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

AVMA marks 100,000-member milestone

By Malinda Larkin

The AVMA has reached a major milestone, recording over 100,000 members for the first time in its 159-year history. The announcement came during the AVMA Board of Directors’ Sept. 18-20 meeting.

The Association tallied 100,063 members on Sept. 7. The AVMA has grown from having 84,000 members in 2012.

Over the decades, the AVMA has evolved, working always to serve its members. Dr. Lori Teller, AVMA president, said she’s proud of how the Association has been able to walk hand in hand with members through a variety of transitions.

Dr. Janet Donlin, executive vice president and CEO of the AVMA, said: “When I reflect on the scientific advancements, education, training, and expert care that have brought us to this day and the dedication, compassion, and service that our members deliver for our patients and clients on a daily basis, I see an innovative and ethically grounded profession with an amazing past and a very bright future. As always, we are stronger together!”

AVMA members receive numerous benefits to help them in their careers, including the following:

  • Guidance on public policy issues that impact animal welfare and the profession.

  • Discounted rates for the AVMA Convention as well as AVMA symposia and summits.

  • Free or discounted access to AVMA economic, salary, and employment data for the profession.

  • Subscriptions to JAVMA and open access to AJVR.

  • Use of the AVMA Veterinary Career Center.

  • Online continuing education and certificate programs.

  • Educational materials for clients.

  • Access to professional liability and other insurance through PLIT.

  • Access to life, disability, and other insurance through AVMA Life.

Then there is the work done on behalf of members, particularly when it comes to advocating at the federal level on matters that are critical to the veterinary community.

The AVMA has come a long way from when it was founded in June 1863 by leaders of the American Veterinary Association. They had voted to meet in New York City with colleagues who were interested in removing the nation’s veterinary profession from the grasp of those without sufficient training and education, according to the book, “The AVMA: 150 Years of Education, Science, and Service.”

The United States Veterinary Medical Association—which became the AVMA in September 1898—had 39 founding members: 13 in New York state, nine in New Jersey, eight in Massachusetts, six in Pennsylvania, and one each in Delaware, Maine, and Ohio.

U.S. census archives indicate about 8,100 people claimed to be veterinary surgeons in 1900, although those figures include many individuals without formal training. The AVMA had nearly 400 members then.

The Association had grown to include 1,650 members by its 50th anniversary in 1913 and exceeded 20,000 members in 1969. AVMA membership hit the 30,000 mark in 1978 and 40,000 in 1984.

“Most of our current members can’t remember when society transitioned from horse-and-buggy days to automobiles, and the profession transitioned as well,” Dr. Teller said. “The AVMA was there for its members then, and now, as we increasingly incorporate technology into our practices, the AVMA is here to help veterinarians utilize technology appropriately, not be replaced by it.”

Dr. Teller added that she’s proud of the AVMA’s ability and willingness to collaborate with others. That includes the Coalition for Connected Veterinary Care, which is intended to help veterinarians integrate telehealth into their practices, with founding members being the AVMA, Veterinary Study Groups, and Merck Animal Health.

Another initiative, the recently launched Journey for Teams initiative, is intended to help veterinary workplaces become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive, in conjunction with the Veterinary Medical Association Executives.

“The veterinary profession is vibrant because people can do a variety of things with a veterinary degree, and a diversity of opinions allows the AVMA to continue to be relevant,” Dr. Teller said. “The AVMA is known as the great convener because we are able to bring together people from diverse backgrounds to work together to find real solutions to problems that everyone can utilize.”

Keynote speaker encourages finding your why, telling your own story

Story and photo by Malinda Larkin

Bertice Berry, PhD, reminded attendees during AVMA Convention 2022 this summer in Philadelphia to clean their filters. No, not in their dryers, but instead, in their minds. The filters are there so you can take a look back at your experiences, learn from them, and avoid repeating your mistakes.

“If you do not clean your filter, it becomes the window through which you see the world. We all get things caught in our filter,” she said. “But if you don’t constantly clean that filter,” it can color your perspective in potentially negative ways.

The best way to clear that filter is to take a deep breath, let it out, and remember a time when somebody came back to tell you, “Thank you.”

“In that moment, usually we suffer from what I call, ‘That’s just my job,’” she said. That’s when people dismiss the good they’ve done in this world or how they have helped, as though it doesn’t really matter. But it matters more than people think, and everyone possesses the ability to change somebody else’s life.

“It doesn’t matter what else is going on. It doesn’t matter whether or not people can see what’s going on inside. It doesn’t matter how I show up. I still possess the ability to change somebody’s life,” Dr. Berry said. “You have to remember these moments of gratitude. Because two seconds later, somebody’s gonna say, ‘Why do you charge me so much?’”

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Bertice Berry, PhD, gives the keynote speech at AVMA Convention 2022 in Philadelphia. She makes her own dresses, and the one she wore for her speech was made of fabric that had her dogs’ photos printed on it.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 13; 10.2460/javma.260.13.1599

She gave the keynote presentation, “Owning Your Narrative,” which was sponsored by Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Dr. Berry is a sociologist, lecturer, and storyteller.

She explained that owning your narrative means forming your own voice, your authenticity, your stories. Doing so is important because if you don’t say it, you can’t heal.

“Sometimes we think that not saying something is the thing that gives you the ability to keep moving, but actually, we have to say out loud what’s going on and what’s wrong so that we can get to where we need to get to,” Dr. Berry said. “Owning your narrative is enabling you to be who you are, not who others say you are.”

She continued, “You have to share your narrative, and you have to be a story keeper for yourself. Sharing stories is really something we’re wired for, but we’ve gotten so far away from it.”

Later that day, she held a workshop on the tools and techniques for sharing your story.

Dr. Berry also emphasized how important veterinarians are to helping society, because when an animal is healed, so is its owner. And though many days can be difficult, it’s just as important to remember to remember how resilient people can be.

She recited one of her favorite poems by Langston Hughes, “Still Here.”

“I been scarred and battered. My hopes the wind done scattered. Snow that freezes me, sun has baked me. Looks like between them they done. Tried to make me stop laughing, stop loving, stop living—but I don’t care. I’m still here,” she quoted.

“It’s up to you to figure out what to do with the fact that you are still here. It’s up to you to figure out what to do with the fact that in the sea of those who quit and couldn’t hold on, you were here to help bring out the best of humanity. To show us how to love better and be better at doing it. You are here for that. But as I said earlier, you need each other’s stories, because iron sharpens iron.”

Tips for making diversity, equity, inclusion a reality in your practice

Making adjustments to hiring process and website a good start, speaker says

By R. Scott Nolen

First impressions are everything when trying to attract diverse clients and job applicants, according to Dr. Laura Pletz, president of the Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative.

What does a Black veterinarian considering an open associate position at your clinic think when she sees an all-white staff featured on the practice website? How might a lesbian couple with a new puppy feel about a practice whose Facebook page includes a statement celebrating diversity and inclusion?

“Optics matter, and it’s really important to think about your online presence,” Dr. Pletz said. She was speaking July 28 during her virtual presentation for AVMA Convention 2022, which focused on strategies for incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.

Dr. Pletz, a scientific services manager for Royal Canin, defined diversity as differences in areas such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, and socioeconomic class. Equity is ensuring that processes and programs are impartial and fair and provide equal potential outcomes for each person. Inclusion is providing people with a sense of belonging. In the workplace, inclusion manifests as all employees feeling comfortable and supported by the organization when it comes to being their authentic selves.

“Inclusion is the absolute key to all of this,” Dr. Pletz explained. “You can have a diverse team, but if you’re not including everybody and giving them a sense of belonging, it’s kind of meaningless.”

Dollars and sense

Creating more opportunities for diverse individuals in veterinary medicine is “absolutely the right thing to do,” Dr. Pletz said, but doing so also just makes sense for businesses. Study after study, she said, shows that the more diverse the staff, the greater the diversity of thought and perspective, resulting in better decision making, more innovation, and higher engagement. Incorporating DEI also can improve your reputation in the community.

Noting the higher turnover rate for veterinarians and veterinary technicians compared with doctors and nurses in human medicine—and the difficulties veterinary practices have encountered in hiring—one solution, Dr. Pletz said, is expanding veterinary medicine’s recruiting base. “If you’re only bringing in one particular group of individuals, you’re really limiting your opportunities to expand,” she said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. population is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, highlighting the need to diversify the profession. A report from the Brookings Institution states that, from 2010-20, all of the population increases in the U.S. came from groups other than white Americans who do not identify as another race or ethnicity. The biggest growth came from Latino or Hispanic Americans, with an increase of 11.6 million—representing roughly half of the nation’s total decade gain of 22.7 million. Asian Americans and people identifying as two or more races were also substantial contributors to the population growth.

“We need to understand that presenting a population that doesn’t mirror society could potentially cause issues for us,” Dr. Pletz said. “It’s not the best way to encourage people to come into your business and feel comfortable and welcome there.”

What to do

Practices have several ways to expand DEI. One of the first and most important steps is showing a commitment to DEI on the practice website and through the practice’s social media feeds.

Dr. Pletz recommends reviewing these online outlets through a lens of being welcoming to all. Present your team honestly, but leverage stock images that align with your goals for a diverse workplace. Avoid unrealistic glamour shots, and instead use images that show people in realistic and professionally relevant settings.

“While these seem like small things, these images impact how people see and feel about your business,” Dr. Pletz said. “It’s absolutely paramount that you think about this if you’re aiming to increase the diversity of your teams.”

Make sure your practice has a clear statement on DEI that is visible to clients and job candidates. Positive words and short sentences are key, Dr. Pletz added. For instance: “Inclusion is how we unleash the power of diversity. We strive to foster belonging and empowerment at work. We provide quality veterinary care for our diverse customers. We listen and engage with our diverse communities.”

Scrutinize how you word job descriptions because your wording can attract or repel people representing particular groups, Dr. Pletz said. Search for biased terms, and avoid those pertaining to gender, race, age, or physical abilities. Also, don’t include qualifications or training that aren’t required for the job, Dr. Pletz said, explaining that studies show women who can’t check every box are less likely to apply than men who don’t meet every requirement.

Job postings should be broadly disseminated and include your DEI statement, Dr. Pletz said. “Let people know this is important to you. That in and of itself is tremendously welcoming,” she said.

Internships and preceptorships targeted to underrepresented groups are another way of promoting diversity, according to Dr. Pletz. She encouraged spreading the word about these opportunities by working with historically Black colleges and universities such as Tuskegee University as well as affinity groups with a focus on DEI, including the WVLDI, Multicultural VMA, and Pride Veterinary Medical Community.

When it comes to hiring, Dr. Pletz said blinded resume and application reviews can play an important role. Form an interview team whose members ensure fairness and inclusivity in the review process. “If you’re interviewing members of the same population for every job, then you’re never going to get anywhere with diversity,” she said.

Turn to creative scheduling for hiring and retention, social media for recruiting

By Katie Burns

Creative scheduling can be a powerful tool for practices in hiring and retaining veterinarians and other staff members, while social media can be a way to showcase a practice to help recruit potential employees.

Dr. Tannetje’ Crocker spoke on “Creative Scheduling in Your Practice” on July 30 at AVMA Convention 2022 in Philadelphia. She was then joined by Nicole Scott-Jones for the session “Short-Staffed? Solution: Social Media!”

In a poll by Dr. Crocker of more than 1,000 people on Instagram, about 80% indicated that flexible scheduling is important to them when searching for a job in veterinary medicine.

Dr. Crocker herself has worked as an equine ambulatory veterinarian, small animal general practitioner, and now as a small animal emergency veterinarian in Dallas. She also has two small children.

Before joining the small animal general practice, she was working as a relief veterinarian. When she got home each night, she shoved food in front of her kids, threw them in the bath, and put them to bed. It was really disheartening. Then the two veterinarians who owned the small animal practice wanted her to come on board full time. She agreed, provided she could work a different schedule than hers—or theirs.

The practice saw patients by appointment only, with a two-hour lunch break. Dr. Crocker came up with a schedule to use the surgery room when the other veterinarians were in appointments and to use the appointment rooms during the lunch break. She worked from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. two days a week, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. two days a week, and 8 a.m. to noon three Saturdays a month.

Within a month, the owners said this was the best idea that Dr. Crocker ever had. The new schedule opened up a whole new revenue stream with more surgeries and lunchtime appointments.

Dr. Crocker gave other examples of creative scheduling. At one small animal practice, open Saturdays, the veterinarians work 200 days per year, with at least two veterinarians each day. Some batch their days, working five days a week, and others work three or four days a week. Overall, the workweek averages about four days.

Other small animal general practices have veterinarians work three or four days per weeks, with longer workdays of 10 or 12 hours, which might include a Saturday.

At an equine ambulatory practice, the schedule is 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, with some people on call. At another equine ambulatory practice, two part-time veterinarians share on-call duties with other equine practices.

Competition is growing across industries to recruit and keep employees, Scott-Jones said in the second session. She is the digital marketing and social media strategist for the Georgia VMA and oversees board functions and digital marketing for the Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative.

Glassdoor, a website for employees to rate companies and look at job listings, found that about 80% of site users look at social media during a job search. Scott-Jones said practices can use social media to show clinic culture and team dynamics, display unique aspects of open positions and the clinic, and reach a larger applicant pool.

Dr. Crocker said practices can implement a basic social media strategy to recruit and retain more and better job candidates. This strategy can be fun for the veterinary team as well. First, identify team members to engage in social media for the practice. Allot time for content creation, and compensate identified members for their time.

To guide content, practices need to know their audience, which might be pet owners. The social media posts can show potential employees that the practice cares about pet owners. Start by trying basic content categories such as storytelling, motivational, and informational.

When Dr. Crocker started posting on social media, her topics were her cat, finding joy in veterinary medicine, cool cases, and being a mom while working as a veterinarian.

In planning content, practices can use a content calendar, recurring content, and popular hashtags. Each post should include a call to action. For example, if the post is about treating a newly adopted dog for heartworm infection, ask people if they have ever adopted a pet. Scott-Jones said the call to action might be the most important part of the post.

The speakers concluded by pointing to a few resources for practices: Canva for graphics, Vixer for video editing, and WhiskerCloud for websites and social media engagement.

To fight contagious toxicity, write a code of conduct for clients and the clinic

By Katie Burns

With rudeness on the rise in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, some veterinary practices have posted signs such as “Aggressive behavior will NOT be tolerated” or “Zero Tolerance Policy: We do not tolerate inappropriate behavior toward staff.”

Better yet would be to come up with a one-page document outlining the rights and responsibilities of both clients and the clinic, said Dr. Cyndie J. Courtney, a consultant on workplace conflict. She spoke on “How To Write a Client Code of Conduct” on July 30 at AVMA Convention 2022 in Philadelphia.

Dr. Courtney is a small animal veterinarian practicing just south of Kansas City, Missouri, and founder of The Jerk Researcher. She describes herself as a recovering toxic team member, and she draws on experience and research as she speaks, writes, and consults nationally on conflict resolution in the workplace.

Toxic behavior is contagious, Dr. Courtney said. When clients treat team members in a toxic way, team members are more likely to treat one another in a toxic way and to take toxic behaviors home.

A code of conduct outlines acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Dr. Courtney gave the example of her local human hospital, which has a patient bill of rights for what patients can expect from the hospital and patients’ responsibilities in turn.

To help identify and address the concerns of veterinary clients, Dr. Courtney said, some good resources are the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics, the American Animal Hospital Association’s Standards of Accreditation, and state veterinary practice acts. Also, it’s a good idea to have a lawyer assess any code of conduct.

Dr. Courtney said to keep the initial code of conduct to at most three things that the practice will ask of clients and three corresponding things that clients can ask of the practice. These things could have to do with topics such as payment structures, being a discrimination-free environment, or refraining from yelling and cursing.

For instance, if the practice wants to ask clients to be on time, it is important to let clients know that the practice will be respectful of their time and make its best effort in that area. In reality, appointments won’t always be on time, but the practice can make a commitment to tell clients when appointments are running behind.

“We want to show them that we are asking for these things because we value the underlying principle—not just because we can, not just because we have more power, not just because we can fire them—but because we care about the underlying principle, and so we’re willing to offer them the same thing that we are asking of them in turn,” Dr. Courtney said.

To format the document, a table can be used to allow clients to easily compare things side by side. A list is another format. Dr. Courtney usually recommends keeping the document to a single page.

She advised printing the code of conduct and posting it in visible places around the hospital, posting it in the “about us” section of the practice website, sharing it through email or a client newsletter, and briefly reviewing it with clients at an appointment—then giving a copy to clients and making a note in their record.

Dr. Courtney advised against including a signature line. The practice already can end the veterinarian-client-patient relationship at its discretion, and she recommended omitting a signature line to avoid an implied contract.

If a client violates the policy, remind them of it first. If the violations are flagrant or repeated, then end the relationship with that client.

“We all have the same interests at heart,” Dr. Courtney said. “We all want to help take care of these animals. And the more we can be on the same page, the more we can achieve those aims, and the less conflict we can have.”

Pet with diarrhea? Maybe hold off on the antibiotics

By R. Scott Nolen

New insights into the trillions of microbes comprising the intestinal microbiome are, among other things, calling into question the use of antibiotics to treat diarrhea in canine and feline patients.

Dr. Jennifer Granick, an associate professor of small animal internal medicine at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, suggested that treatment should focus instead on restoring the health of the complex system of bacteria and other microbes within the gastrointestinal tract.

“When I went to veterinary school, we were taught to use metronidazole for diarrhea, and what I hope to convince you of is that, maybe, we should be think rethinking our approach,” Dr. Granick said during her presentation, “First Do No Harm: A New Approach to Diarrhea in the Dog and Cat,” July 30 at AVMA Convention 2022 in Philadelphia.

The gut microbiome has been shown to be an essential part of host health. As Dr. Granick explained, these microbes create defensive barriers against potential pathogenic organisms, aid in nutrient breakdown and energy release from ingested foods, provide nutritional metabolites for enterocytes, help regulate immunity, and metabolize substances the host can’t, such as drugs.

Gut microbiota in dogs and cats consist primarily of the genus Firmacutes, Bacteroides species, and fusobacteria, Dr. Granick said. The canine GI tract contains large amounts of Enterococcus and lactic acid–producing species, whereas Lactobacillus, Enterococcus, and Bifidobacterium species are found within the feline GI tract.

Gut heath is not a novel idea in veterinary medicine, Dr. Granick said, noting how withholding food was thought beneficial in cases of parvovirus infection and pancreatitis.

“We don’t do that anymore because there are plenty of studies that say early enteral feeding is more helpful for getting these animals well sooner,” she said. “The key to that is feeding the gut because the gut needs the bacteria to eat in order to stay healthy.”

A growing body of research shows antibiotics have little or no impact in cases of acute diarrhea and hemorrhagic diarrhea syndrome. In fact, evidence suggests infection-fighting medications can aggravate the microbiome, similar to infection, inflammatory disease, and poor diet.

What are the alternatives to antibiotics? Prebiotics—that is, substances fed to the microbiome to get it back on track. High-fiber pet diets and cilium additives fall in this category. There are also probiotics, or “good bacteria,” Dr. Granick explained. The result of these two is post-biotics, which include metabolites, short-chain fatty acids, and functional proteins.

Fecal microbiome transplantation is another potential option, but it’s a relatively new procedure with much to be learned, according to Dr. Granick. “Screening your donors is so important,” she cautioned, “not only for fecal pathogens but also making sure they don’t have a long history of antimicrobial use.”

What does Dr. Granick do when presented with a case of acute diarrhea? She prescribes a highly digestible diet, probiotics, plus or minus prebiotics, and deworming, depending on the patient’s history.

In chronic cases, her initial approach is to go with either a highly digestible diet or a high-fiber diet. “My decision making really depends on what has already been tried,” Dr. Granick said “Oftentimes, when I’m seeing patients with chronic diarrhea, they’ve gone through a few different treatment trials first. And I’ll make my decision about diet depending on what’s already happened.”

Additionally, Dr. Granick prescribes both prebiotics and probiotics, runs a blood test to determine whether a B12 supplement is needed, and deworms the patient. If the patient is hypoalbuminemic, and Dr. Granick thinks the animal has protein-losing enteropathy, she begins immunosuppressive treatment. If the patient isn’t responding to the treatment, then Dr. Granick does additional diagnostic testing.

The last thing Dr. Granick tries is antibiotics. “That’s not to say there aren’t antibiotic-responsive diarrheas out there. There absolutely are,” she said. “But antibiotics are the last thing I do, which is really different than when I first started practicing because it was the first thing I did.”

Veterinary students share research at scholars symposium

Nearly 600 veterinary students representing three dozen veterinary schools from the United States, Canada, and Europe participated in a summerlong research program. Their work culminated in a presentation of their findings at the National Veterinary Scholars Symposium, held Aug. 4-6 this year at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.

Mentored by researchers from academia, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Institutes of Health, students conducted original research in areas such as emerging infectious diseases, toxicology, oncology, and chronic diseases, as well as advances in conservation and sustainable agriculture.

This year marked the first time that program participants worked directly with USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists researching diseases that could affect livestock and public health and advancing sustainable approaches for agriculture and food production.

Under a new collaboration between the USDA and Boehringer Ingelheim, 12 students spent the summer at one of nine USDA sites working with an ARS scientist on a research project, with Boehringer Ingelheim and USDA covering all costs for the students.

In addition to Minnesota’s veterinary college, the symposium was sponsored by the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges, the AVMA, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, Boehringer Ingelheim, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the NIH, and the USDA. Every year, the AVMF provides stipends for five veterinary students conducting a second year of summer research.

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Franchesca Rollerson-Clark, a second-year veterinary student at Kansas State University, worked with mentor Stephanie Martinez, PhD, an assistant professor, this summer on the study “Identification of canine cytochrome P450 enzymes involved in the metabolism of antiepileptic drugs and screening of drug-drug interactions with cannabidiol.” (Courtesy of Dr. Katherine Stenske KuKanich)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 13; 10.2460/javma.260.13.1599

Dr. Vivek Kapur, a professor of microbiology and infectious diseases at Pennsylvania State University, gave the symposium’s keynote address, on SARS-CoV-2. Plenary addresses on the applications of veterinary genetics were given by Drs. Danika Bannasch, a professor at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and Molly McCue, associate dean of research at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.

Along with the student poster presentations, the symposium featured several breakout sessions and a Combined Degree Colloquium for students pursuing dual veterinary and PhD degrees.

During the symposium, the AVMA and AVMF sponsored a competition for the best scientific presentation by a veterinarian currently enrolled in or within one year of completion of a graduate degree program. The winners of the AVMA/AVMF Early Stage Investigator Awards were Dr. Lynn Pezzanite, Colorado State University, first place; Dr. Rosemary Bayliss, North Carolina State University, second place; and Dr. Alexa Spittler, Colorado State University, third place.

Boehringer Ingelheim presented its Animal Health Veterinary Graduate Award to Dr. Ashley Rasys, University of Georgia, and its Veterinary Student Award to Sydney Womack, Cornell University.

AVMA honors four veterinary scientists

The AVMA recently recognized four veterinary scientists for their research contributions advancing animal and human health. The award recipients were honored at the National Veterinary Scholars Symposium, held Aug. 4-6 at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.

AVMA Lifetime Excellence in Research Award

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Dr. Yrjö Gröhn

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 13; 10.2460/javma.260.13.1599

Dr. Yrjö Gröhn, a professor of epidemiology at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, was awarded the 2022 AVMA Lifetime Excellence in Research Award.

Established in 2005, this award recognizes a veterinary researcher on the basis of lifetime achievement in basic, applied, or clinical research. Winners are selected on the total impact their career has had on the veterinary or biomedical professions.

Dr. Gröhn is an internationally recognized expert in analytical epidemiology, with an emphasis on applying mathematical modeling and other quantitative methods to livestock diseases and foodborne pathogens. He has enriched food supply veterinary medicine with cutting-edge research, the goal of which has been to identify economically optimal ways to manage health for animals and humans.

During his academic career, Dr. Gröhn’s research interests have evolved from studies of basic metabolism in ruminants and genetics to veterinary epidemiology, economic modeling, and food safety. Currently, his two main areas of research and scholarly activity are mathematical modeling of zoonotic infectious disease and optimizing dairy herd health and management decisions.

Dr. Gröhn’s pioneering work has led to improvements in the control of lameness and mastitis in dairy cattle as well as breeding of dairy cattle.

AVMA Clinical Research Award

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Dr. Stephen White

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 13; 10.2460/javma.260.13.1599

Dr. Stephen D. White, a professor at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, is the winner of the 2022 AVMA Clinical Research Award.

Established in 1955 by the AVMA Council on Research, the award is given annually to an AVMA member who has made significant contributions to the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of diseases in animals, including the study of mechanisms of disease, therapeutic interventions, clinical trials, development of new technologies, and epidemiological studies.

Dr. White has taken a collaborative approach to advancing knowledge in veterinary dermatology. This collaboration has included colleagues in other veterinary disciplines and in other countries, and many of his large retrospective studies characterizing skin disease in various species have involved colleagues at other veterinary schools and in other parts of the world to increase the number of cases reviewed and to increase the impact of the research.

His work has increased veterinary medicine’s understanding of skin diseases in several species in which there was limited prior knowledge and have provided valuable clinical information for treatments now being used in human dermatology.

AVMA Career Achievement in Canine Research Award

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Dr. Stanley Marks

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 13; 10.2460/javma.260.13.1599

Dr. Stanley L. Marks, a professor of small animal medicine at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, is the winner of the 2022 AVMA Career Achievement in Canine Research Award. The award honors an AVMA member’s long-term contribution to the field of canine research.

Dr. Marks’ research has had an immediate, substantial, and deep impact on the profession’s understanding of swallowing disorders and chronic enteropathies in dogs, along with veterinarians’ capacity to diagnose these disorders practically and less invasively.

His mission has been to call attention to esophageal disorders in dogs by training veterinarians in the diagnosis and management of these conditions and educating the public to recognize subtle cues associated with swallowing impairment and steps that can be implemented to minimize aspiration. Additionally, Dr. Marks has pioneered innovative treatments that have a substantial impact on human and canine patients alike.

AVMF/EveryCat Health Foundation Research Award

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Dr. Mike Nolan

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 13; 10.2460/javma.260.13.1599

Dr. Mike W. Nolan, a professor of oncology at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, is the winner of the 2022 American Veterinary Medical Foundation/EveryCat Health Foundation Research Award.

Established in 2009, the award honors a candidate’s contribution to advancing feline health through research.

Dr. Nolan, who is board certified in radiation oncology by the American College of Veterinary Radiology, has dedicated much of his work to the treatment of feline gastrointestinal cancer. He also has contributed his skills in radiation oncology to collaborative work in feline urinary interstitial cystitis.

Dr. Nolan’s work on companion animals has enabled him to develop new treatment regimens that have shown promise in the human field, demonstrating the power of translational research. Exemplifying that, he has been instrumental in the development of the Consortium for Canine Comparative Oncology, a program linking the Duke Cancer Institute and NC State’s veterinary college.

Assemblies

American Association of Industry Veterinarians

The American Association of Industry Veterinarians held its networking reception and annual business meeting on July 31 in Philadelphia. The officials are Drs. Timothy Smaha, Columbia, South Carolina, president; Allison Sateren, Jupiter, Florida, president-elect; Pamela Mitchell, Metairie, Louisiana, secretary; and Tabatha Regehr, Kansas City, Kansas, treasurer.

American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners

The American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners held its annual meeting on July 30 in Philadelphia. The officials are Drs. Kelly Still-Brooks, Loveland, Colorado, president; Clare Scully, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, president-elect; Michelle Kutzler, Philomath, Oregon, treasurer and director; Susana Myers, Coopersville, Michigan, immediate past president; Andrea Mongini, Denair, California, AVMA delegate; Philippa Gibbons, Amarillo, Texas, AVMA alternate delegate; and directors—Drs. Sarah Lowry, Lockport, New York; Beth Johnson, Parksville, Kentucky; and Virginia Fajt, College Station, Texas.

American College of Veterinary preventive Medicine

The American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine held its annual diplomate meeting on July 30 in Philadelphia. The officials are Drs. Barbara L. Jones, Durham, New Hampshire, president; Kristen Voehl, Milton, Massachusetts, president-elect; Thomas Doker, Aiken, South Carolina, secretary-treasurer; Thomas Berg, Richland, Michigan, executive vice president; Richard E. Hill Jr., Ames, Iowa, immediate past president; Sean Altekruse, Bethesda, Maryland, president of the specialty in epidemiology; Suzanne R. Todd, Erie, Pennsylvania, AVMA Veterinary Specialty Organizations Committee representative; and councilors—Drs. Will Sander, Savoy, Illinois; Danielle Stanek, Tallahassee, Florida, and Jennifer Boonstra, Rockford, Illinois.

American Veterinary Epidemiology Society

The American Veterinary Epidemiology Society held its annual awards breakfast on Aug. 1 in Philadelphia. The officials are Dr. Jack Shere, Washington, D.C., president; and board members—Dr. Craig Carter, Lexington, Kentucky; Dr. Ron DeHaven, El Dorado Hills, California; Dr. Bernadette Dunham, Hume, Virginia; Keith Goldman, Secaucus, New Jersey; Dr. Laura Kahn, El Dorado Hills, California; Dr. Bruce Kaplan, Sarasota, Florida; Dr. Lonnie King, Columbus, Ohio; Dr. John Poppe, San Antonio; and Dr. William Stokes, Apex, North Carolina.

Visit avma.org/news/community to read the full reports, including awards.

Saving box turtles, all in a dog’s day of work

Story and photo by Katie Burns

The dogs didn’t find a single turtle for the first hour of the hike, but they didn’t give up.

A team of veterinarians, veterinary students, five dogs, and the dogs’ owner slowly wound up and down ravines in a forested park hidden away among the corn and soybeans of central Illinois. The expedition’s leader, Dr. Matt Allender, noted when the group reached what he called the magic field—which turned out to be a field of thorns but not of Eastern box turtles that day.

Eastern box turtles have a conservation status of vulnerable and could disappear from the edge of their range in Illinois. Dr. Allender is a Chicago Zoological Society clinical veterinarian and director of the Wildlife Epidemiology Laboratory at the University of Illinois, which describes diseases of reptiles and amphibians in the wild as part of collaborative efforts to help preserve species.

The project to study box turtles is the largest and longest health study in this animal anywhere in the world, so far having collected samples from more than 4,000 turtles. The project started in Tennessee in 2007 and is in its 11th year in neighboring Illinois, focusing in central Illinois on Eastern box turtles and in northern Illinois on ornate box turtles—which are threatened in the state. Specially trained Boykin Spaniels locate the small turtles by scent and then carry them by mouth back to rest of the turtle team, which returns them to their original habitat immediately after they are worked up.

Funding for the project comes from a number of sources, including the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. All work is performed with appropriate permits and with approvals from the University of Illinois Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

These box turtles are sentinels of ecosystem health, Dr. Allender said. The project has found human health concerns in samples from the turtles, such as the presence of Salmonella and evidence of heavy metals.

After the magic field, back in the trees, one of the dogs finally found the first turtle. The dogs wagged their tails, and the rest of the turtle team smiled.

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Ruger brings a wild box turtle to John Rucker, who trains his Boykin Spaniels to find and retrieve box turtles for research. View more photos at jav.ma/turtleteam.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 13; 10.2460/javma.260.13.1599

After more hiking through ravines, the dogs found seven more turtles, and a veterinary student found one. The team finally got back to the parking lot, having hiked up and down in a loop for 2 1/2 hours but having covered only 2 1/2 miles horizontally.

The team mobilized quickly in the parking lot to minimize the time that the turtles were away from their habitat. The veterinarians and veterinary students previously had set up several stations on folding tables under a pop-up canopy.

The team swabbed the turtles’ shells, drew blood samples, recorded demographic information, conducted physical examinations, listened to each turtle’s heart, and took measurements and photos of each turtle’s shell. Dr. Allender identified the turtles that had been collected before by the pattern of notches in the 24 scutes around the edge of the carapace, and he added notches to the carapaces of the new turtles.

After the turtle workup in the parking lot, most of the team headed back to the veterinary college to spend the afternoon on diagnostics. Dr. Allender and a few veterinary students hit the trail again to retrace the loop route through the ravines and return each of the nine turtles to the exact location where it was found.

Dr. Laura Adamovicz, a veterinarian who is a research scientist with the Wildlife Epidemiology Laboratory, said, “This work has generated a tremendous amount of data that is useful for understanding box turtle health and creating focused conservation strategies for these animals and the ecosystems in which they live.”

In Memory

Martin L. Akins

Dr. Akins (California-Davis ’60), 85, Shaver Lake, California, died July 5, 2022. He practiced at Diamond Veterinary Medical Hospital in Visalia, California, where he was a partner until retirement in 2000, and helped establish Tulare-Kings Veterinary Emergency Services in Visalia. He was active with Tulare County Animal Services. He is survived by his wife, Jeanette; two sons and a daughter; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Memorials may be made to Hinds Hospice, 2490 W. Shaw, Suite 101, Fresno, CA 93711; Church of Shaver Lake, 41340 Tollhouse Road, Shaver Lake, CA 93664; or Visalia United Methodist Church, 5200 W. Caldwell Ave., Visalia, CA 93277.

James E. Ducey Sr.

Dr. Ducey (Georgia ’58), 87, Savannah, Georgia, died May 29, 2022. Following graduation, he served in the Army. In 1960, Dr. Ducey took over the practice owned by his father, Dr. Frederick E. Ducey Sr., in Savannah. He served in the Army Reserves for more than 20 years. His wife, Jayne; three sons and two daughters; 13 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren survive him. A brother, Dr. Frederick E. Ducey Jr. (Georgia ’50), was a veterinarian in Ridgeland, South Carolina, prior to his death. Memorials, toward the St. Peter the Apostle Church Organ Fund, may be made to St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church, 7020 Concord Road, Savannah, GA 31410.

James G. Fish

Dr. Fish (Texas A&M ’54), 92, Jacksonville, Florida, died July 13, 2022. Following graduation, he served in the Army. Dr. Fish subsequently practiced small animal medicine at San Juan Animal Hospital in Jacksonville for more than 40 years. His wife, Janet; three children; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren survive him.

Donald R. Glotfelty

Dr. Glotfelty (Georgia ’56), 90, New Kensington, Pennsylvania, died June 4, 2022. He served in the Army, worked in a diagnostic laboratory at the University of Maryland, and established a large animal practice in Maryland’s Garrett County. In 1975, he moved to Pittsburgh, where he owned Plum Animal Clinic, a small animal practice, until retirement in 2000. He is survived by his companion, Betty Grossheim; two sons; two grandchildren; and a brother. Memorials may be made to the Salvation Army, 255 3rd St., New Kensington, PA 15068, or The Nature Conservancy, Attn: Treasury, 4245 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 100, Arlington, VA 22203.

George A. Hofmann

Dr. Hofmann (Colorado State ’74), 84, Johnston, Iowa, died May 13, 2022. He worked as a meat inspector for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He was also involved with the USDA’s Horse Protection Program and the monitoring of commercial dog breeding facilities. His wife, Jean; three daughters and a son; three grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and a brother survive him.

William H. Leonard

Dr. Leonard (Colorado State ’62), 84, Lexington, Kentucky, died March 6, 2022. He owned Leonard’s Pet Clinic in Lexington, Kentucky. Earlier, he worked in Colorado and Pocatello, Idaho, before moving to Lexington to serve as resident veterinarian at Hamburg Farm. He is survived by three daughters, six grandchildren, and two sisters. One daughter, Dr. Margie L. Garrett (Purdue ’92), is also a veterinarian. Memorials may be made to the United Way of the Bluegrass, 100 Midland Ave. Suite 300, Lexington, KY 40508; Second Presbyterian Church, 460 E. Main St., Lexington, KY 40507; or the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 6704, Hagerstown, MD 21741.

Robert J. Luebke

Dr. Luebke (Colorado State ’58), 91, Ennis, Montana, died July 14, 2022. He was a partner at Four Corners Veterinary Hospital, a small animal practice in Concord, California. Dr. Luebke also helped establish a veterinary emergency clinic in California’s Contra Costa County. Early in his career, he worked in Chico, California. Dr. Luebke was a past president of the Contra Costa VMA. He is survived by his wife, Nani; a son; and a grandchild. Memorials may be made to the Madison Valley Medical Center Foundation, P.O. Box 993, Ennis, MT 59729.

Richard H. McConnell

Dr. McConnell (Iowa State ’62), 83, Antigo, Wisconsin, died July 27, 2022. Following graduation, he joined the Air Force, stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. In 1964, Dr. McConnell moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he worked at Feist Animal Hospital. He subsequently established his own practice in Newport, Minnesota. Dr. McConnell went on to found Park Grove Pet Hospital in Cottage Grove, Minnesota. He retired in 2015. Dr. McConnell is survived by his wife, Laurie; three daughters and a son; six grandchildren; and a sister and brother.

Berry W. Moore

Dr. Moore (Georgia ’60), 86, Gray, Georgia, died May 30, 2022. He served in the Army as station veterinarian for the Pentagon at Fort Myer in Virginia. Dr. Moore subsequently began a veterinary practice in Georgia’s Jones County, where he practiced mixed animal medicine until retirement in 2000. He also treated animals for Jones County Animal Services for 20 years. Dr. Moore was a member of the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association and the Lions Club. His two daughters and three grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to Gray United Methodist Church Building Fund, 117 S. Jefferson St., Gray, GA 31032.

Barbara E. Penney

Dr. Penney (Pennsylvania ’68), 87, Taneytown, Maryland, died Dec. 25, 2021. Following graduation and after completing her residency at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Penney subsequently served at Penn Vet as an assistant instructor, lecturer, and an associate professor. In 1983, she joined the faculty at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. During her career, Dr. Penney also worked in the animal research division of the National Institutes of Health for several years and served as an assistant handler on the dog show circuit. Dr. Penney is survived by her sister and family.

Paul F. Raiti

Dr. Raiti, 70, Mount Vernon, New York, died July 10, 2022. A 1979 veterinary graduate of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, he owned Beverlie Animal Hospital in Mount Vernon. Dr. Raiti was a past president of the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians. In 2010, he was one of the first five veterinarians to achieve diplomate status with the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in reptile and amphibian practice. He authored several peer-reviewed publications and textbook chapters and co-edited two editions of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association’s Manual of Reptiles. His wife, Renie, and a daughter survive him.

Earnest E. Seiler Jr.

Dr. Seiler (Colorado State ’64), 87, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, died June 2, 2022. Following graduation, he practiced in Orlando, Florida. In 1967, Dr. Seiler established Seiler Animal Hospital in Fort Lauderdale. He also founded the Pet Emergency Center in Fort Lauderdale. Dr. Seiler was a member of the Florida VMA and served on several of its committees. Dr. Seiler’s wife, Nancy; three daughters and two sons; 17 grandchildren; and a great-grandchild survive him. Memorials toward Orange Bowl Cares, a program that supports and rewards Florida teachers, may be made to the Orange Bowl Committee, 14360 NW 77th Court, Miami Lakes, FL 33016.

Don J. Staunton

Dr. Staunton (Illinois ’94), 53, Villa Park, Illinois, died May 28, 2022. During his career, he practiced in the far north and northwestern suburbs of Chicago, including at Niles Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center in Niles. Dr. Staunton was a member of the Illinois State and Chicago VMAs. His wife, Christine, and his children survive him. Memorials may be made to World Vets, 9711 18th Ave. NW, Gig Harbor, WA 98332, or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

John E. Stump

Dr. Stump (Ohio State ’58), 88, West Lafayette, Indiana, died July 23, 2022. Following graduation, he practiced in Bucyrus, Ohio. In 1961, he joined the veterinary faculty of Purdue University, retiring as a professor emeritus in 1992 from what is now known as the Department of Basic Medical Sciences. In 1999, he was inducted into the Purdue University Book of Great Teachers. Dr. Stump is survived by a daughter, a son, four grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren. Memorials may be made to the Covenant Presbyterian Church, 211 Knox Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47906, or Westminster Village, 2741 N. Salisbury St., West Lafayette, IN 47906.

Lynn G. Wheaton

Dr. Wheaton (California-Davis ’67), 79, Pullman, Washington, died June 10, 2022. She completed an internship and residency at the Animal Medical Center in New York City, then joined the veterinary faculty at Purdue University. She went on to serve as an assistant professor of small animal surgery at the University of Illinois and later headed small animal surgery at Washington State University. During her career and in retirement, she worked with medical companies to develop artificial limbs and organs for training veterinary students. Dr. Wheaton was the first female diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. She is survived by her brother.

John Allan Whitby

Dr. Whitby (Colorado State ’81), 67, Kaysville, Utah, died June 25, 2022. He began his career in Carmichael, California. In 1985, Dr. Whitby moved to Utah, where he worked at A Animal Hospital in Clearfield. From 1990, he served as a partner at Fairfield Veterinary Hospital in Layton, Utah, practicing there for 32 years. Active with the Boy Scouts of America, Dr. Whitby served as a Scout leader and was a recipient of the Silver Beaver Award. He is survived by his wife, Anna; four daughters; five grandchildren; his parents; and three brothers and two sisters.

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