AAVMC 2014 Deans Conference Focuses on Progress
Deans representing 38 North American, Caribbean and European colleges of veterinary medicine addressed pressing matters in academic veterinary medicine ranging from workforce issues to student wellness and One Health during the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges’ (AAVMC) annual Deans Conference in Naples, Florida, January 17-18, 2014.
The conference opened with an update from Dr. Link Wellborn, chair of the AVMA’s Veterinary Economics Strategy Committee, and Dr. Michael Dicks, director of the AVMA’s Veterinary Economics Division. Dr. Dicks outlined the range and complexity of factors affecting supply and demand in the profession. He said the current excess capacity, estimated to be 12.5% in a recent AVMA workforce study, is due primarily to the recent economic downturn and other realities associated with the demand for veterinary services. The number of veterinarians being trained, representing the supply side of the equation, has played a relatively insignificant role in creating the current workforce climate.
Dr. Dicks suggested that income distribution patterns may be creating a new under-served class of pet-owners earning less than $50,000 a year who are priced out of the market for much of the sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic aspects of modern clinical care. He suggested the profession might consider focusing on providing different levels of clinical support for this emerging market.
Sustainability in Veterinary Education
Sustainability in veterinary medical education, including debt-to-income ratio, job opportunities, and financial literacy among veterinary students was also addressed. Dr. Phillip Nelson presented an overview of strategies for enhancing financial literacy among students. Dr. Deborah Kochevar and Mr. Jeff Douglas, AAVMC senior communications consultant, discussed communication strategies and the importance of informing students, pre-veterinary students and the profession about the issues.
Deans were also briefed on a new web-based financial literacy and professional development program recently introduced by Zoetis that seeks to provide co-curricular support for veterinary students. The AAVMC Board of Directors has agreed to partner with Zoetis on this project and deans were asked to encourage faculty to investigate the website and report on their perceptions of its quality and usefulness.
AAVMC 50th Anniversary
Deans were also briefed on the establishment and progress of an AAVMC 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee, led by Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Ralph Richardson. That group is planning a series of activities designed to observe the AAVMC’s “golden anniversary,” which will be observed from March 2015 – March 2016.
One Health Initiatives
Dr. Joan Hendricks and Dr. Trevor Ames led a discussion on One Health initiatives focused on communicating the vital role veterinary medicine plays in human health and well-being, integrating with other health professions and measuring outcomes. The group agreed that One Health is broader than just comparative medicine and zoonotic infectious disease control and suggested that key advocates need to be identified and cultivated in human medicine. The group acknowledged the importance and timeliness of the upcoming AAVMC meeting focused on One Health and stressed the need to demonstrate the value of one health through actions and accomplishments before attempting to broadly communicate the concept.
Dr. Lonnie King highlighted results from a recent Student Wellness symposium presented at The Ohio State University. Mental health and wellness is a major issue across many sectors of society, but disturbing data suggests the suicide rate is higher among veterinarians than the rest of the population. Curricular challenges, economics issues and self-esteem issues were discussed as factors affecting rates of anxiety and depression among the student population. Faculty members need to be educated about these conditions, though their role as counseling agents is limited. Several schools are now employing full-time career and clinical counselors.
International Experiences for Students
Dr. Paul Lunn led a discussion on international experiences and opportunities in the developing world. Discussions centered on the value of creating broader awareness about veterinary medical contributions in non-clinical areas, the importance of focusing on strategically considered initiatives as opposed to “veterinary medical tourism” and the career development benefits of international experiences for students.
AAVMC Co-Sponsors “A Day at the CDC” Event for Students, Faculty
What is it like to be a veterinarian who works for the federal government or in public health? That was the focus of “Code Vet at the CDC: A Day at CDC for Veterinary Students,” held recently at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.
The event, which drew more than 400 participants, helps veterinary students and faculty learn more about career opportunities in public health and public service. Seminar topics included opportunities for students in the federal government, veterinary careers in public health, strategies for public health careers, and current zoonotic disease outbreaks across the globe.
“The federal government is one of the largest employers of veterinarians and ‘A Day at the CDC’ does a great job of showcasing the variety of careers for which veterinarians are uniquely qualified, as well as the importance of public health and public service careers overall,” said AAVMC Executive Director Dr. Andrew Maccabe. “Veterinarians receive an education that is unique among the health professions, one that prepares them to play important roles in public health, food safety, homeland security, research and public policy. The AAVMC is pleased to co-sponsor this outstanding event.”
Other sponsors were: the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Infectious Zoonotic Diseases (NCEZID); the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA); the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine (ACVPM); the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV); and the American Association of Public Health Veterinarians (AAPHV).
VEC Symposium Registration Now Open
Registration is now open for the Veterinary Educator Collaborative (VEC) Symposium June 13-14, 2014, on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Network, tour the new Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital, get ideas for improved teaching, and learn about communications assessment on a budget at this AAVMC-sponsored event designed to foster teaching excellence in academic veterinary medicine.
Registration is open to all veterinary medical faculty and interested stakeholders.
The 2014 symposium will feature two tracks: Inter-program Collaboration, including faculty challenges (such as grading, evaluating house officers and faculty, teaching, and scholarship) and challenges working with students, (such as exposure to clients and clinics and running effective rounds); and Teaching and Learning, with expert instructors and educational specialists presenting together on what works and why.
The AAVMC’s VEC provides online and face-to-face collaboration and sharing between veterinary medical educators. VEC focuses on planning, faculty development, and sharing best practices. Participants exchange ideas, learn from each other, and generate new ideas in the context of an ongoing collaborative exchange.
Digital Communities of Interest, Member Group Sharing Tools Now Operational
The AAVMC now has online tools available where stakeholder groups can have real-time, online discussions and easy access to a shared calendar, documents and other tools.
This recently launched system, based on Microsoft’s SharePoint web platform, goes beyond the association’s “members’ only” website module by offering an expandable, centralized site that can be customized according to stakeholder needs and open to outside constituents for real-time feedback and input on specific topics.
“The ability for groups of people to interact in threaded discussions around a shared topic, considered a ‘community of interest,’ will enable the AAVMC to receive valuable input from groups that, in the past, we may have had to survey or reach out to in other, more time-intensive ways,” said AAVMC Director of Admissions and Recruitment Affairs Tony Wynne, who is coordinating the implementation project. The system will also enable members of outside groups to interact with AAVMC-specific groups, such as the AAVMC Board of Directors or committee members.
“Our goal is to improve service to our members, serve as a hub of information and make it easy to get valuable feedback,” Wynne said. “Also, internally, we hope to improve workflow and efficiency through improved content management and document retention.”
Gearing up for the 2014 AAVMC Annual Conference on One Health
There is still time to register for the upcoming 2014 Annual Conference on “One Health in Veterinary Medical Education,” in Alexandria, Virginia, on Friday, March 14 through Sunday, March 16, 2014.
Dedicated to an integrated One Health vision that creates connections and spans disciplines, the conference will bring some of the best minds in the profession together to get the most up-to-date information on the direction of One Health initiatives and strategies for the future.
Topics will include building a One Health program, public health, alternative education models and teaching methodologies, research using interdisciplinary teams, and other practical and informative sessions centered on a One Health theme.
Plus, as always, network with colleagues, share experiences and insights at the President’s Reception or other events, or attend the Admissions Workshop.
UC Davis Professor Earns AAVMC/ZOETIS National Teaching Excellence Award
Dr. Matthew Mellema from the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is the recipient of the 2013 AAVMC Distinguished Teacher Award, presented by Zoetis. The honor is considered the most prestigious national teaching award in veterinary medicine.
Dr. Mellema is an assistant professor of emergency and critical care at UC-Davis, where he has taught since 2007. He will receive the award during the AAVMC’s 2014 Annual Conference in Alexandria, Virginia, on Friday, March 14, where he will also share his approach, experiences and teaching philosophy with more than 200 conference attendees, including veterinary college deans, faculty and associated dignitaries from throughout the United States and the world.
The AAVMC Distinguished Teacher Award recognizes excellence in professional veterinary medical education and is presented to an educator whose sustained record of teaching excellence and ability, dedication, character and leadership has contributed significantly to the advancement of the profession.
University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Earns AAVMC Excellence in Research Award
Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a professor of virology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, is the recipient of the 2013-2014 AAVMC Excellence in Research Award. Selected by a committee of peers, the honor designates Dr. Kawaoka as the outstanding veterinary medical researcher of the year.
The AAVMC Board of Directors established the annual research award in 2010 to recognize outstanding research and scholarly achievements in the field of veterinary medicine. It recognizes an individual who, over the course of his or her career, has demonstrated excellence in original research, leadership in the scientific community, and mentoring of trainees and colleagues in any discipline of veterinary medicine.
The award will be presented during the AAVMC Annual Conference on Friday, March 14, at the Westin Alexandria in Alexandria, Virginia.
AAVMC Planning for 50th Anniversary Celebration
Fifty years of achievement and progress in academic veterinary medicine will be celebrated when the AAVMC observes its golden anniversary March 2015-March 2016.
A committee of past and present AAVMC leaders and member organization representatives has been established to plan a year long series of events designed to recognize historic milestones and build public awareness and support for the important role academic medicine plays in modern society.
While the committee is still in the process of developing specific program plans, a number of ideas are being considered.
Those include major special events during the 2015 and 2016 annual meetings, a special edition of the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, an anniversary book, a video profile, and other anniversary communications. Special efforts will be taken to broadly engage students, faculty, and allied organizations in the profession with the celebration.
The committee is considering the theme “The AAVMC: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” for the celebration year.
“Our goal with this celebration is not so much to look back and celebrate past accomplishments, although that’s a natural part of any anniversary festivities,” said Committee Chair Dr. Ralph Richardson, dean of the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. “What we hope to do with this celebration is build greater public awareness and support for academic veterinary medicine, thereby creating a better future for our students, our colleges, and for the profession.”
Once the anniversary committee has developed specific program ideas, the Board of Directors will consider their recommendations and determine funding options. There will likely be opportunities for major corporations and organizations working in veterinary medicine to partner with the AAVMC during the celebration.
In addition to Dr. Richardson, committee members include Dr. Daryl Buss, former dean, University of Wisconsin, and JVME Editor; Dr. Page Carmichael, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine; Dr. Lester Crawford, former AAVMC Executive Director; Mr. Jeff Douglas, Staff Liaison and AAVMC Senior Communications Consultant; Dr. Howard Erickson, Emeritus Professor of Physiology and History of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine; Dr. Larry Heider, former dean, University of Prince Edward Island College of Veterinary Medicine and former AAVMC Executive Director; Dr. Glen Hoffsis, former dean, The Ohio State University and the University of Florida Colleges of Veterinary Medicine; Dr. William “Billy” Hooper, former AAVMC Executive Director; and Dr. Debbie Kochevar, dean of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.
Federal Support Funds High-Tech Study of Mastitis
Mastitis is a highly prevalent dairy cow disease that ruins cows’ health and wreaks havoc in the dairy industry.
Now with nearly $500,000 over three years from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cornell National Institute of Food and Agriculture, faculty at the college of veterinary medicine will employ a new technology to examine mastitis in ways it has never been studied before.
“Mastitis is the most important disease in dairy cows,” said principle investigator Rodrigo Bicalho, assistant professor of dairy production medicine. “Our study will use techniques that were not available until very recently to learn more about mastitis than previously possible. We expect that our results will change perceptions of clinical mastitis, leading to reevaluation of treatment and prevention strategies.”
Previous research in Dr. Bicalho’s lab showed that mastitis infections were not as simple as previously thought and that they are caused by multiple, previously undetectable bacteria.
In the new study, Dr. Bicalho will target a fingerprint-like gene called 16s-rRna that can identify different species of bacteria, making treatment and prevention strategies much more targeted and precise.
Note: The above story is the first in a series of stories that the AAVMC will highlight in the Vet-Med Educator on a regular basis from member institutions that demonstrate the positive effects of federal investment in schools and colleges of veterinary medicine.