July 2016

Following Extended Review NACIQI Recommends DOE Recognition of COE

The Department of Education’s National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) has recommended continued recognition of the AVMA Council of Education as the official accrediting body in academic veterinary medicine through the end of 2017.

NACIQI’s recommendation will now be forwarded to the Secretary of Education for a formal determination, which will be made within 90 days. NACIQI review, analysis and recommendation is a key component of the USDE’s five-year recognition cycle for accrediting organizations in higher education.

The recommendation follows a period of additional review. The COE’s last five-year recognition was granted in 2007. During the 2012 review, the USDE staff identified compliance issues concerning widespread acceptance of its standards, policies and procedures among stakeholders. The DOE provided extensions of recognition pending appropriate responses from the COE. 

The COE undertook a series of steps to gather input and educate stakeholders about the process and rigor of establishing standards, as well as other COE operations. Those outreach efforts included empirical programs, such as working with the University of Illinois Survey Research laboratory to formally query 15,000 stakeholders, mass digital outreach, a series of “listening sessions” held at major veterinary medical conferences, and other measures.

The USDE Staff Report provided to the NACIQI for consideration during its June 22-24, 2016, meeting states that the previously identified issues have been satisfactorily resolved, and recommends continuation of the COE’s recognition through the end of this 5-year cycle (late 2017). NACIQI will now make that formal recommendation to the Secretary of Education.

“This is great news for the hard-working members of the COE, who have diligently listened to criticisms and responded where appropriate with new policies and procedures to further reduce the potential for conflicts of interest between the COE and AVMA leadership,” wrote AAVMC Executive Director Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe in an advisory to AAVMC members.

Members of the COE will be present at the AVMA Convention to provide a brief update and hold a listening session on August 7, 3-5 p.m. in the Crockett CD at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio.

2017 Annual Conference Call for Proposals

The AAVMC invites veterinary college faculty and students to share their work and ideas during the 2017 AAVMC Annual Conference & Iverson Bell Symposium, March 10-12, 2017, in Washington, D.C. The Iverson Bell Symposium, held every two years, is named for the first African-American veterinarian to hold the position of vice-president in the American Veterinary Medical Association. Its goal is to promote diversity and inclusion in academic veterinary medicine and this year's conference theme is "Building a Diverse Workforce to Serve Global Needs."

Proposals will be considered in, but not limited to, the following categories.
  • Recruiting a Diverse Workforce
    • Holistic Admissions
  • Building a Curriculum to Educate a Diverse Workforce
    • The Hidden Curriculum – How Educators Shape the Norms, Values, and Beliefs of Future Professionals in the Veterinary Workforce
    • Developing Cultural Competence
    • Accommodating Disabilities in the Curriculum
  • Fostering Veterinary Workforce Diversity
    • The Physician-Scientist Workforce
  • Building a Financially Literate and Stable Workforce
    • Debt-to-Income: Solutions for the Future
  • Promoting a Healthy Veterinary Workforce
    • Climate
    •  Health and Wellness
  • Developing a Workforce of Leaders
    • Fostering Leadership in Students and Throughout the Career
The following attributes should be considered for educational sessions:
  • Data-based presentations that address research and survey trends
  • Proposals from collaborative, multi-institutional teams
  • Incorporation of inter-professional perspectives
  • Presentations that feature interactive learning, audience feedback technology, and/or small group discussion
  • Proposals with an international focus
  • Consideration or discussion of ethics
Presenters are encouraged to to use interactive, feedback technology via live polling, free text response, and more to encourage audience engagement. Contact Andrew Zoeller at azoeller@aavmc.org for questions about the audience engagement technology.

Proposals for educational sessions and posters should be submitted no later than September 1, 2016.

Learn more and see complete submission instructions.

Veterinary Educator Collaborative Conference Highlights Teaching Innovation, Prominence

About 200 veterinary medical educators and related stakeholders from around the world attended the AAVMC’s Veterinary Educator Collaborative Conference at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, in June.

The teaching-focused event featured two pre-conference workshops, 21 workshops and 51 posters on a range of topics such as quality improvement and methods for teaching and assessing clinical skills, clinical communication skills, business skills and problem solving.

“The conference provided a unique opportunity to be among veterinary educators from around the world, all focused on teaching,” said Dr. Emma Read, conference co-chair and associate dean academic (DVM Program) at the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. “Their passion, knowledge and dedication is motivational and thought provoking. I think it bodes well for the future that so many veterinary educators took time out of their busy schedules to focus on teaching excellence.”

Sessions on Monday, June 20, featured three keynote speakers addressing topics related to “Community Engaged Learning” and “Assessing Learning.”

Under the “Community Engaged Learning” category, keynote speaker Dr. Deborah T. Kochevar, dean and Henry and Lois Foster Professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, spoke on “Veterinary Educators as Catalysts for Global One Health.” Keynote Dr. Doug Myhre, associate dean, distributed learning and rural initiatives and the chair of admissions at the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, spoke on community-based and community-engaged learning and the social accountability that results from these activities.

Under the “Assessing Learning” category, Dr. Farhan Bhanji, associate professor of pediatrics, a CanMEDS clinician educator and the associate director of assessment at the Royal College of Physicians of Canada, presented a session on competency-based education and assessment of clinical performance.

Sessions on Tuesday, June 21, highlighted the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine’s clinical skills building.

Participants included representatives from the United States, Europe, Australia and all of the Canadian veterinary medical schools.

AAVMC Capitol Hill Legislative Briefing Focuses on Zika, Veterinary Research

It was standing room only during a recent AAVMC Legislative Briefing on Capitol Hill titled “Deadly Mosquitoes and other Dangers: How Veterinary Medicine Can Improve Our Response to Zika and other Dangers.” Some 60 legislative staffers and other officials – about twice the number expected -- turned out to hear three leading scientists discuss the role veterinary medical research plays in protecting people from infectious diseases like Zika and influenza.

They left the room with a broader understanding of just how interconnected animal health and human health are … and always have been. That point was made quickly and clearly by Dr. Martha Nelson, a Research Fellow at the National Institutes of Health’s Division of Epidemiology and Population Studies, during an opening reference to the catastrophic “Spanish Flu” pandemic of 1918, which killed an estimated 20 million people worldwide and drained five percent from global GDP.

Describing the role birds and pigs play as reservoirs for evolving avian influenza viruses during her opening presentation, titled “Pandemic Influenza: It’s Coming,” Nelson called for greater investment in veterinary medical research. Additional research needs to be focused on earlier zoonotic phases such as pathogen evolution, limited-human-to-human transmission and cross-species spillover, she said, all of which presage widespread circulation in animal reservoirs.

Pigs play a major role as influenza “mixing vessels,” she said, noting major progress in global swine disease surveillance over the past seven years and highlighting the beneficial research and control opportunities made possible by the relationships veterinarians have with swine producers.

The next speaker, Dr. Tina M. Parker, a program officer with NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, presented an overview of infectious disease research at NIAID. Their dual mandate includes a robust basic and applied research program in microbiology, infectious diseases, immunology, and clinical research. It also includes countermeasure programs designed to mount a rapid response to new infectious disease threats.

Pictured, from left: Parker, Cain, Nelson, Coffey.

"Veterinarians play a crucial role at NIAID,” she said, noting that there are about 25 veterinarians on staff who serve as principal investigators, provide key support in animal model development, help evaluate candidate vaccines and therapeutics, assure regulatory compliance and provide a range of preclinical services and resources for other researchers.

Animal models play a critical role in NIAID research focused on ebola, Marburg, TB, Dengue, Yellow Fever, Chikungunya, Arboviruses, enteroviruses, polio, Zika, SARS, MERS, influenza and antimicrobial resistance, according to Parker.

Parker said NIAID had long embraced a “One Health” approach that examines the interaction of animals, people and the environment in their approach to infectious disease control, even though they have not yet employed the term much within the organization.

She suggested greater recognition of the “One Health” concept might be achieved if the language in federal funding mechanisms specifically used the term and prescribed a collaborative approach between physician and veterinary medical researchers.

Perhaps the unusually large turnout for the briefing was because of the focus on Zika virus. Dr. Lark L. Coffey, an assistant professor and virologist on faculty at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, outlined current efforts to learn more about the ominous infectious disease currently capturing media headlines during a presentation titled “Mosquito-borne virus emergence and the need for Zika virus animal models.”

“Obviously we want to know so much, yesterday,” she observed, characterizing the massive “concentration of force” among medical researchers, public health officials, and others to develop an effective response to the threat. “The fact that we have had to ramp up so quickly has been very challenging.”

Zika is present throughout most of South and Central America right now. In the United States, according to data from the CDC Coffey shared as of June 9, there were 755 cases (from travel to endemic regions), including 234 pregnant women. There were an estimated 2.7 million travelers from Brazil to the United States during the 2015 Zika virus season.

While it is known that Zika is mosquito-borne, much needs to be learned about the disease’s mechanism of action, viral mutation, and patterns of transmission. Of those infected, for example, some are not symptomatic and yet others are sickened. One of the most disturbing presentations of the disease, microcephalic fetuses in infected pregnant women, has shocked and scared the public, and engendered extensive media coverage.

What is crucial, according to Coffey, is that more be learned about the disorder. She and her colleagues are presently working with macaque monkeys to develop a suitable animal model that will help researchers reproduce human disease, test vaccines and therapies, and learn more about how the disease affects various body systems.

So far, they have demonstrated that fetal death corresponds with high Zika virus levels in macaque fetuses and mothers and that Zika virus remains in fluids from pregnant macaques as long as a month after inoculation.  Preliminary data suggests, according to Coffey, that the macaque could prove a valuable Zika virus animal model, which would be a major step forward in helping control the threat posed by Zika.

A lively question and answer session which followed the briefing underscored the timeliness of the event and its’ “top-of-mind” status on Capitol Hill.

Health and Wellness Summit Open for Registration, Proposals

The 2016 AAVMC Veterinary Health and Wellness Summit, “Reaching New Heights in Veterinary Wellbeing,” will be held at Colorado State University Nov. 4-6, 2016. Conference presentation proposals are invited and the meeting is open for early registrations.

A growing body of evidence demonstrates that veterinary students and practitioners experience high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. These factors are known to impact productivity, career longevity, and enjoyment in practice.  

Earlier conferences designed to explore the problem and create solutions have been presented at The Ohio State University and the University of Tennessee. Those meetings have sparked awareness and action among the academic and organized veterinary medical communities, as well as among industry partners. Zoetis is the primary industry sponsor.

The 2016 conference will build on this momentum. Veterinary students, administrators, practitioners, social workers, counselors and industry partners will convene to develop a common understanding about health and wellbeing issues within the veterinary profession. The summit aims to build a solid foundation of knowledge and information, share best practices, and develop clear and specific goals and actions to address pressing issues surrounding the health and wellness in veterinary medicine.

Learn more.

AAVMC Board Changes Top-Job Title to Chief Executive Officer

The AAVMC Board of Directors has changed the name of the “Executive Director” position to “Chief Executive Officer” (CEO) effective with the August Assembly meeting in San Antonio. The duties of the position, serving as chief staff officer with operational authority and responsibility for organizational management, will remain the same.

The action was taken to better reflect current organizational trends in higher education and health professions associations such as the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC) and the Federation of Association of Schools of the Health Professions (FASHP) in Washington, D.C.

SoAR Foundation Report Calls for Increased Federal Support for Agricultural Research

A powerful case for increased federal support for agricultural research has been made in the recently released “Retaking the Field” report, produced by the Supporters of Agricultural Research Foundation. The SoAR Foundation is an AAVMC partner organization that also advocates for full funding of the Agriculture Food and Research Initiative (AFRI).

The report highlights several examples of critical work being accomplished at major U.S. research universities. But it also demonstrates how U.S. agricultural production is losing ground to China and other global competitors.

“Researchers are discovering incredible breakthroughs, helping farmers produce more food using fewer resources, and keeping our meals safe and nutritious,” said SoAR Foundation President Thomas Grumbly. “However, the science behind agriculture and food production is starved of federal support at a time of unprecedented challenges. A new surge in public funding is essential if our agricultural system is going to meet the needs of American families in an increasingly competitive global market.”

Retaking the Field examines the importance of agriculture and its related industries to the US economy. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), this sector was responsible for nearly 1 in 10 jobs in 2014 and contributed $835 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product. Even though every public dollar invested in agricultural research provides $20 in economic returns, the federal budget for agricultural research has remained flat for decades. Today, the US trails China in both agricultural production and public research funding.

Agricultural productivity and food security are threatened by new pests and pathogens, like the 2015 Avian Influenza outbreak that led to the culling of 48 million birds in 15 states and $2.6 billion in economic damages.

“Every year, the director of national intelligence testifies before Congress that our national security is threatened by hunger in unstable regions,” said Grumbly. “As the number of people on our planet continues to grow, we must produce more food. This cannot be done with yesterday’s science. We need a larger infusion of cutting-edge technologies.”

AAVMC Board Member and University of California- Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Dean Dr. Michael Lairmore serves as a member of the SoAR Foundation’s Publications Steering Team.

One Health Organizations Unite to Present “One Health Day”

Three leading international One Health groups, the One Health Commission, the One Health Initiative Autonomous pro bono Team, and the One Health Platform Foundation are partnering to create a global “One Health Day” on November 3, 2016.

The organizers are encouraging individuals and groups from around the world to implement One Health-oriented projects and special events under the auspices of "One Health Day.” 

The projects will highlight the benefits of a One Health trans-disciplinary approach towards solving today’s critical global-planetary health challenges, according to Dr. Cheryl Stroud, executive director of the One Health Commission.

“It is anticipated that emerging projects will focus on many of the arenas under the One Health umbrella, including worldwide public health issues such as emerging/reemerging zoonotic infectious diseases, comparative medicine research, including cancer, heart disease, orthopedic diseases and the inextricable interactions between animal, environmental and human health,” said Stroud.

Interested individuals and groups from the public and private sector are invited to plan and implement a One Health Day event as part of the program. Student groups from all disciplines are especially encouraged to participate and will have the opportunity to compete for cash prizes and global recognition.

Additional information is available online at www.onehealthday.org

The One Health Commission is a globally focused 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting improved health of people, domestic animals, wildlife, plants and the environment. Learn more.

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