Greetings from the AAVMC

Spring 2013

Dr. MaccabeWelcome to the Educator, the AAVMC's revamped and renamed e-bulletin. In this issue, we'll take a closer look at the AAVMC's recent 2013 Annual Conference and Iverson Bell Symposium, where attendees gathered to promote the AAVMC's legislative agenda, assess how to enhance diversity, and develop strategies for how to prepare for the future.

The meeting came on the heels of a controversial article in the New York Times about academic veterinary medicine -- and the AAVMC's response -- that brought a heightened sense of urgency to the meeting and highlighted the need to effectively communicate the enduring value of veterinary medical education.

We hope that you enjoy learning more about the conference and other recent developments in academic veterinary medicine in this inaugural issue of the Vet-Med Educator -- content that matters from the AAVMC.

- Dr. Andrew Maccabe
Executive Director, AAVMC

The Conference that Beat the Odds

This year, anticipated snow storms, jokingly referred to as “the Snowquester,” threatened to cancel or, at the very least, waylay the plans of many to attend the AAVMC’s 2013 Annual Conference. In the end, however, the Snowquester blew over the Washington, D.C., area, ushering in one of the AAVMC’s most well-attended and successful conferences to date. Nearly 250 veterinary medical educators, policymakers, and students gathered for the conference and the biennial Iverson Bell Symposium, named for the first African-American veterinarian to hold the position of vice president in the American Veterinary Medical Association.

On March 7, the AAVMC coordinated more than 150 visits for deans or their representatives to meet with legislators to discuss the AAVMC’s legislative agenda, which includes supporting funding for animal health and disease research, the National Institutes of Health, the Veterinary Medical Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP), and the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act, which provides a federal income tax exemption for financial awards received under the VMLRP.

AAVMC representatives met face to face with many legislators or their staff to explain the importance of supporting the Farm Bill, which traditionally contains important provisions that affect the quality and availability of veterinary medical services to support both the production and the safety of food in the United States.

In a recent, exciting development participants encouraged members of the U.S. House of Representative to join the newly formed, bipartisan Veterinary Medicine Caucus.

Also on that Thursday, a large group of research deans met with Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, who told them that despite the current period of budget uncertainty, he plans to focus on the three “C’s”: capacity funds, capital investments and competitive grants. He added that, at some point, he would like to see capacity funds and competitive grants funded at $1 billion each.

The Iverson Bell Symposium kicked off March 8 with intensive sessions on “Diversity and Inclusion: Excellence in Institutional Planning, Teaching, and Assessment.” The symposium’s primary goal is to promote diversity in academic veterinary medicine, much as Dr. Bell devoted much of his time to promoting diversity in veterinary medicine. It is the oldest diversity symposium in the profession and certainly the most provocative and dynamic. Over the past 15 years, the symposium has pushed boundaries by exploring privilege and power, climate, gender, sexuality and how diversity affects organizational development.

Sessions included updates on affirmative action legislation, how to provide support for students with disabilities, how to incorporate inclusion into the curriculum, and the importance of demonstrating leadership on diversity initiatives. Learn more about leadership.

Special sessions addressed diversity in the realm of food animal production and the importance of cultural competency in communication, with particular attention given to the differences that often exist between veterinarians and the farm workers with whom they interact, where both language and cultural differences can create communication barriers.

On Saturday, March 9, Ronnie Elmore accepted the Iverson Bell Award and recalled days of shocking racism, with entrenched segregation characterized by “whites only” restaurants and bathrooms. Elmore applauded those who work to “punch holes in the darkness” by combating racism and prejudice. To encourage more diversity in the veterinary profession, he encouraged CVMs to “go to where students are and build relationships.”

Learn more about Elmore and other award-winners.

The Admissions Workshop, which ran concurrently with Saturday’s Iverson Bell sessions, included how to prepare for changes in the Veterinary Medical College e-Application Service, which will streamline the college transcript submission process and bring other efficiencies and communication enhancements to the application process.

Other sessions looked at innovations in clinical education, such as how to find resources to support primary care programs, and the growing trend to integrate surgical training with the spaying and neutering of shelter animals to support adoption.

Through it all, there was a sense of heightened urgency and resolve to respond to what some participants referred to as “the elephant in the room” -- the Feb. 24 article in the New York Times that featured an extreme example of veterinary student debt and projected gloomy employment prospects for veterinary medical college graduates.

Participants received an update on the AAVMC’s efforts to provide context to balance out the article’s unfair slant, including an online rebuttal, a letter to the editor of the New York Times , and efforts to publicize a survey showing that about 98 percent of veterinary medical graduates are employed or educationally engaged within six months of graduation.

View a slideshow of the conference.

Congressional reception
L. to r: Dr. Deborah Kochevar, dean of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and president of the AAVMC; Dr. Phillip Nelson, dean of the Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine; Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Dr. Paige Carmichael of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine; and Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Dr. Jean Sander chat during a reception prior to the AAVMC's Congressional Reception in the Longworth House Office Building.

Big Drama, Steady Profession

Shock waves from the  New York Times Feb. 24 article  on the fragile economic state of the profession continue to ripple throughout the veterinary medical community. That the Times chose to do an article of such breadth and scope on the profession makes a lot of sense. After all, there’s not a lot more important than the health and well being of people and animals. But it was unfortunate that they parsed and applied the facts of the matter in a way that exaggerated their case. The resulting drama was a bit more than the profession needs as it continues to sort out its challenges.

Once the story went public, AAVMC officials moved quickly to establish a response and work with the Times to point out their flaws and inaccuracies. Scarcely more than a day later, the AAVMC posted a thoughtful and well-reasoned response to the article from President Debbie Kochevar on our website and moved it out through controlled media channels.

Chief among our goals was to help readers understand that 1) the debt load shouldered by the veterinarian featured in the narrative was more than twice the average, 2) employment data was skewed by the sample time of the data they used and much worse than more accurate data mined six months following graduation, and 3) starting salaries cited in the article were about 50% lower than the reality for first year clinicians because they factored in students pursuing academic internships and residencies.

The AAVMC response to the article was cheered by many, including thought-leader Kristi Reimer, editor and news channel director for DVM 360, one of the veterinary profession’s most influential trade magazines.

“…I found the AAVMC’s to be particularly helpful because it added some much-needed context to the statistics cited by Segal,” she wrote. “But what I most appreciated by the AAVMC’s statement is that it ended on a note of hope for the profession, calling the profession an “essential national resource.”

True that. The AAVMC will continue to work hard to fortify the foundations of “our essential national resource” through data, communications, and advocacy; and by working together with the many other organizations who appreciate the critical role this amazing and noble profession must play in the years ahead.

Legislators Form First-Ever Veterinary Medicine Caucus

A Historic First

U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), both veterinarians, have joined forces to form the first-ever, bipartisan Veterinary Medicine Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. The formation of the Veterinary Medicine Caucus comes at an extremely important time, as several vitally important bills related to veterinary medicine are currently before Congress.

AAVMC Establishes Financial Literacy Task Force

At their January 2013 meeting, the AAVMC Board of Directors approved the formation of a task force to explore the feasibility of creating and implementing a Financial Literacy Curriculum for veterinary medical students. The task force will be headed by Dr. Jim Lloyd, associate dean for Budget, Planning and Institutional Research at Michigan State University.

The initiative is in response to the 2012 Student Debt Report, commissioned by the AAVMC, which recommended a four-year financial literacy curriculum and plan of action. The task force will evaluate the suggestions in the Student Debt Report and make recommendations to the board of directors.

The task force will review and evaluate the proposed financial literacy curriculum from the report; determine the feasibility of a model financial literacy curriculum along with a cost analysis for implementation; and develop combined initiatives between AVMA’s Early Career Development Committee (ECDC) and the AAVMC.

VMCAS Rolls Out Improvements, Enhancements

The Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) recently introduced some changes that will make the application process more efficient, effective, and media friendly. Beginning with this cycle, VMCAS will begin transcript verification, meaning that applicants only have to send one set of transcripts to VMCAS rather than sending multiple copies to multiple schools. Ordering transcripts costs money, so this should save students money, time and trouble. The highly detailed verification process will audit the applicant’s coursework data and compare it against official transcripts, verifying the term, session, course title, credit hours, and grades. This will benefit schools by correcting any discrepancies ahead of time, easing the transcript verification process.

The verification process can take up to four weeks to complete, so VMCAS has implemented a September 1, 2013, transcript submission deadline to ensure transcript verification by October 2. All transcripts will be verified, but VMCAS does not guarantee that transcripts received after Sept. 1 will be verified in time for the application deadline Learn more about transcript verification.

At the same time, the AAVMC is rolling out a new admissions portal called “WebAdMIT.” This web-based application tracking and processing program will greatly improve how schools work with incoming applications. Features include built-in email, status reports, and admissions committee review modules.

A new feature that’s sure to appeal to students is enhanced social networking that includes a Twitter and updated Facebook account.

Cultivating the Next Generation of Leaders

Preparing the next generation of leaders is an AAVMC priority. In keeping with that goal, during the conference the AAVMC brought together 23 future leaders of academic veterinary medicine for the third of three leadership development sessions that are part of the AAVMC Leadership Academy. Participants also accompanied veterinary medical college deans to Capitol Hill for meetings with Congress to discuss pressing issues in academia and the profession.

The AAVMC launched the Leadership Academy last year to provide leadership development for young, "up and coming" faculty at member institutions. The first two successful sessions, which convened in East Lansing, Michigan and Indianapolis, Indiana, included participants from U.S., Canadian, and other international institutions. The third and final session in Alexandria, Virginia, featured two panel discussions, one with former deans who have gone on to higher roles in academia, and one with veterinary leaders who work in the federal government.

The goal is to inspire and mentor young leaders and equip them with leadership training and skills designed to help them help the profession.

Among others, the group heard from University of Tennessee President Dr. Joe DiPietro, North Carolina State University Provost Warwick Arden, and James C. Coffman, former dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and university provost at Kansas State University. Distinguished speakers representing the federal government included Dr. Franziska B. Grieder, director of Research Infrastructure Programs in the Division of Program Coordination, Planning for the National Institutes of Health, and Brigadier General John L. Poppe, assistant surgeon general and chief of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps.

Participants were:
  • Dr. Jeffrey Abbott, University of Florida
  • Dr. Peggy Barr, Western University of Health Sciences
  • Dr. Allen Cannedy, North Carolina State University
  • Dr. Paige Carmichael, University of Georgia
  • Dr. Bhanu Chowdhary, Texas A&M University
  • Dr. Ina Dobrinski, University of Calgary
  • Dr. John Dodam, University of Missouri
  • Dr. Bob Donnell, The University of Tennessee
  • Dr. Daniel Givens, Auburn University
  • Dr. Thomas Graves, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Dr. Henry Green, Purdue University
  • Dr. Kurt Hankenson, University of Pennsylvania
  • Dr. Laura Hardin, University of Nebraska — Lincoln
  • Dr. Reed Holyoak, Oklahoma State University

  • Dr. Vivek Kapur, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Dr. Pavneesh Madan, University of Guelph
  • Dr. Wellington Moore, St. George's University
  • Dr. Sanjeev Narayanan, Kansas State University
  • Dr. Sean Owens, University of California, Davis
  • Dr. Dale Paccamonti, Louisiana State University
  • Dr. Coretta Cosby Patterson, Michigan State University
  • Dr. Lysa Pam Posner, North Carolina State University
  • Dr. Ruby Perry, Tuskegee University
  • Dr. Alejandro Ramirez, Iowa State University
  • Dr. Cindy Shmon, Western College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Dr. Mark Stetter, Colorado State University
  • Dr. Frederick Tippett, Tuskegee University

Learn more about the AAVMC’s commitment to cultivating leadership.

AAVMC Considers Ethics Policy Refinements

For years, public and private schools and colleges of veterinary medicine have collaborated with external partners like corporations, foundations, individual donors, and others as they develop the financial and intellectual resources required to provide high-quality educational, clinical, research, and outreach programs. To help provide guidelines for this important collaboration, the AAVMC created an ethics policy in 2011. In August 2012, the AAVMC hosted a meeting to solicit additional input from stakeholder groups such as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the American Association of Corporate and Public Practice Veterinarians (AACPPV), and others. Read more about the evolution and refinement of the ethics policy.

Practitioner/Academy Relations Have Come a Long Way

As veterinary medicine works to resolve its economic issues, it’s useful to look at how other professions have worked with their respective colleges to deal with the capacity and demand issues that have risen and fallen over the decades. This interesting glimpse from more than a century ago was unearthed by staff working with the largest campaign ever mounted to inform pet-owners about the importance of preventive care -- Partners for Healthy Pets.

More than a century ago, the American Dental Association was working to build consumer understanding of the need for preventive dental care.

From the 1908 Minutes of the ADA Oral Hygiene Committee…

"Realizing that we must first educate the dentist, and then the teacher, before we can hope to reach the laymen, we have endeavored to persuade the dental colleges to increase their instruction on the subject of oral hygiene and dental prophylaxis.

We regret to report little encouragement in this direction, and it is the saddest fact of all, since it lies at the very fountain-head of the dental regime. We have asked for an audience before the National Association of Dental Faculties, but they were too busy to entertain the matter."

Too busy to entertain the matter! That’s quite a contrast from how the AAVMC, the AVMA and other organizations are working together to serve society and create a better future for the profession!

A Look on the Bright Side

The New York Times’ Feb. 24 article on the profession’s current operating environment cast a bit of a pall over all who are passionate about veterinary medicine and just about everyone at the meeting was talking about it. But AAVMC President Dr. Debbie Kochevar is not one to be deterred.

In an extemporaneous move taken toward the end of the General Membership meeting, she swept away the negative vibes by asking deans in attendance to share a few positive thoughts about all that is good about academic veterinary medicine.

The resulting “town hall” commentary provided an inspiring and rousing counterpoint to the struggling profession described by the NYT, as a chorus of deans and leaders shared glimpses of excellence about their colleges and the profession.

“Our national treasure in veterinary medicine is the quality of people we have in this profession,” said LSU Dean Peter Haynes.

VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig reminded the audience about the leadership role the profession plays around the world in public health and food security. University of California Dean Mike Larimore spoke of the power of the “One Health” concept and announced the opening of a major new research facility.

“Veterinary medicine has never been more relevant in Texas, the United States or the world,” said Texas A & M University College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Dr. Eleanor Green, adding that veterinary medicine and “one health” is a top-tier priority for the Aggies.

Many others chimed in to talk about the profession’s unique strengths, big responsibilities, and international scope.

The uplifting exercise created some much needed balance and context for the issue. Bravo President Kochevar!

Award Winners Represent Pinnacle of Excellence

Several leaders in veterinary medical education who received awards at the conference exemplify the extraordinary diversity of expertise that exists in the profession.

Dr. Ronnie Elmore, associate dean for Academic Programs, Admissions and Diversity at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, received the Iverson Bell Recognition Award, presented in recognition of his outstanding leadership and contributions in promoting opportunities for underrepresented minorities in veterinary medical education.

Dr. Will Hueston, a professor from the University of Minnesota, received the Senator John Melcher DVM Leadership in Public Policy Award for his visionary leadership in promoting veterinary legislative advocacy.

Dr. Mary Anna Thrall from the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine received the 2012 AAVMC Distinguished Teacher Award, presented by Zoetis (formerly the animal health business of Pfizer)

Dr. James Coffman, former dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University, was chosen to deliver the 2013 Recognition Lecture.

Dr. James G. Fox from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology received the 2013 AAVMC Excellence in Research Award to recognize outstanding research and scholarly achievements in the profession of veterinary medicine.

"These distinguished educators have all contributed substantially to the scope and quality of veterinary medical education," said the AAVMC's Executive Director Andrew Maccabe. "They represent some of the best of our profession and share a commitment to cultivating the next generation of academic veterinary leaders."

Federal Veterinary Workforce Assessment

From livestock production and food safety to public health, veterinarians working for the federal government play a crucial role in modern society. Responding to a 2009 GAO directive, the Federal Veterinary Workforce Talent Management Advisory Council (TIMAC) recently concluded a detailed examination of the federal veterinary workforce and its ability to respond to an unexpected animal health emergency such as an FMD outbreak on American farms. Dr. Michael Gilsdorf, executive vice president of the National Association of Federal Veterinarians led the effort and he briefed AAVMC annual meeting attendees on the results. While the federal veterinary workforce is not fully staffed, there are about 3100 veterinary positions in the federal government, he said, and the average age is 52-55. The program included a workforce study and an assessment of emergency preparedness. View Dr. Gilsdorf's presentation.

It’s Here: The First Textbook Devoted to Diversity in Academic Veterinary Medicine

The Iverson Bell Symposium featured the public launch of the first textbook devoted to teaching veterinary students about diversity and multicultural awareness. Increasing diversity in the veterinary profession is one of the AAVMC’s strategic goals, and teaching diversity and cultural competency is one of the recommendations outlined in the report from the North American Veterinary Medical Education Commission (NAVMEC). The editors of “Navigating Diversity and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine” are Kauline Cipriani Davis and Sandra F. Amass of Purdue University, Patricia Lowrie (formerly from Michigan State University), and the AAVMC’s own Lisa Greenhill. Learn more.

One Health: A Shared Vision

The AAVMC is now an official member of the One Health Commission. At its March meeting, the board voted to join the One Health Commission, an independent organization designed to foster broader public recognition of the integrated nature of human, animal, and environmental health. The AAVMC will have a seat on the board of directors of this organization. “The ‘One Health’ approach fosters collaborations and the free flow of information among multiple, interrelated fields,” said AAVMC Executive Director Andrew Maccabe. “Given our shared commitment to improving the health of humans, animals, and the environment, it makes sense for us to fully engage with this initiative.” Learn more about the commission.

Spread the Word: There is Still Time for Students to Submit History Essays and Win Awards

The American Veterinary Medical History Society believes that veterinarians are often not aware of the historical significance of their profession – a profession that has boosted static economies, assured war victories, provided safe meat and dairy products, helped build thriving livestock industries and played an enormous role in advancing human health.

To get students thinking and writing about the historical significance of the veterinary profession, the American Veterinary Medical History Society has boosted both the number and prize amounts for the Smithcors Student Veterinary History Essay Contest.

Four students can earn prize amounts of $1,200, $1,000, $800 and $500, respectively, for winning essays.

The 2013 contest is underway with a deadline of April 14, 2013. One winner will also receive a $1,000 honorarium to cover travel and lodging for one to attend the AVMA annual conference and present essay details. Learn more.

“Kennecting” with a One-Health World

We live in a one-health world, as AAVMC Executive Director Dr. Andy Maccabe pointed out during invited remarks at the dedication ceremony for the University of Arizona’s new School of Biomedical Sciences and Comparative Health in Tucson, Arizona. Riffing on Jeopardy Champ Ken Jennings’ “Kennections” Parade Magazine column, Maccabe demonstrated how seemingly disparate events and processes in one health sector are fundamentally linked to another.

Describing One Health as an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the health challenges faced by the human and animal species that share the planet, Maccabe provided One Health-related “kennections” to seemingly unrelated things like children with autism, women in the early stages of cancer, and wounded warriors (in each case, remarkable progress is being made in the diagnosis and treatment of these seemingly disparate health problems by using service animals) and the connection among prisoners, obese people, and homeless people (the connection here is the human-animal bond).

AAVMC Board Considers Instructional Innovations, Enhancement during March Board Meeting

The AAVMC Board of Directors considered and acted on initiatives ranging from e-instruction and the scope of its annual Comparative Data Report to the Veterinary Medical Centralized Application Service (VMCAS) and economic issues facing the profession during its March 2013 meeting in Washington, D.C.

The AAVMC’s data committee will begin revamping the Comparative Data Report to provide more focus on data that will provide the most strategic support for the member institutions, the association, and the profession.

The board heard a presentation on sharing on-line instructional resources and decided to evaluate the viability of a pilot program to be developed at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine in the future.

Board members also discussed plans for the AAVMC to work with the AVMA on the development of an e-Accreditation module to help streamline the production of institutional accreditation documents and learned of a series of improvements with the VMCAS program designed to make the admissions application process more efficient for both colleges and applicants.

The board also discussed the Feb. 24 New York Times article describing economic challenges facing the profession and efforts taken by association leaders to provide the newspaper with more accurate data regarding employment and salaries.

The board voted to join the One Health Commission, an independent organization designed to foster broader public recognition of the integrated nature of human, animal and environmental health. The AAVMC will have a seat on the board of directors of this organization.

The board heard an update on the activities of the newly formed Financial Literacy Task Force and was informed that Dr. Jim Lloyd from the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine had agreed to lead the task force. The board was also briefed on the status of the search for a new editor of the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education.

Former AAVMC Executive Director Named to Key FDA Post

Former AAVMC Executive Director Marguerite Pappaioanou is the new U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) Liaison for Food Safety to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“I am most pleased to announce that Marguerite Pappaioanou, DVM, MPVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVPM (CAPT USPHS, retired) is joining the Food Safety Office in the Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases (DFWED) and the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID),” announced Dr. Dale L. Morse, associate director for food safety in the Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases. “She brings extensive experience working cross-sectorally and building collaborative relationships between human, animal, and environmental health.”

Her office will be located at FDA in College Park, Maryland (in the Washington D.C. metro area).

Academic Veterinary Medicine in the News

Legislators Form Bipartisan Veterinary Medicine Caucus
Miami Herald

U.S. Reps. Schrader, Yoho Establish Veterinary Medicine Caucus
Veterinary Practice News

AAVMC President's Response to New York Times Article

Letter to the Editor of the New York Times from the AAVMC
New York Times

Commentary: New York Times Shines a Harsh Light on Profession's Woes

Student Editorial on Attending Veterinary Medical School
The Cornell Sun

Dean of K-State Veterinary School Discusses Enrollment Numbers
The Topeka Capital Journal

College Grads can Learn and Earn Their Way Out of Student Loans
The Spokesman-Review, Spokane WA
Find a Veterinary School Near You! Thursday, April 12, 2018

AAVMC Establishes Guidelines for Internships at Academic Institutions

read more Wednesday, April 4, 2018

AVMA, AAVMC Form Veterinary Futures Commission

read more Thursday, March 15, 2018

AAVMC Annual Meeting Focuses on Innovation in Education

read more Thursday, March 15, 2018

AAVMC’s CIVME Funds Second Round of Annual Educational Research Grants

read more Journal of Veterinary Medical Education