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  News from the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association                                  Winter/Spring 2010

News from the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine

by Valerie E. Ragan, DVM

Greetings from the College Park campus of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM). As the new director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine (CPCVM) in College Park, I’d like first to sincerely thank the MVMA for all the support and participation we have received in just the few short months that I have been here. For those of you who may not be aware, the CPCVM was established following the publication in 1989 of the Pew Report, among whose key

recommendations were for veterinary colleges to form centers of excellence in which unique advantages of those colleges would be maximized to excel in a specific area of veterinary education. This Center trains veterinarians for career opportunities in public and corporate veterinary medicine, encompassing all areas of veterinary medicine other than private fee-for-service clinical practice. It includes those in zoo animal or wildlife practice, research, animal health at the national or state level, public health veterinarians, and others. Dr. Bettye Walters, director of international activities for the VMRCVM is also located in College Park, and is very involved in the CPCVM activities.

At this time, the need for veterinarians in public and corporate veterinary medicine is expanding, and in many cases, is critical. Shortages are predicted and new demands and areas of focus are developing. As a result, the time is right to review the role and function of the CPCVM, and to redirect and expand its activities as needed. Therefore, we are currently in the process of “reinventing” the Center, and expanding its role and visibility both nationally and internationally. To help with this process, MVMA assembled a task force under the leadership of Dr. Mike Erskine. The input, thoughts, and suggestions from this task force have been be very useful to us, and helped us set our priorities. Our goals are several fold. These goals include increasing Maryland veterinary student interest in attending the VMRCVM; increasing the awareness and value of the CPCVM for students and graduate veterinarians, especially those in practice in Maryland; and reevaluating and assessing the current role and activities of the CPCVM in light of new veterinary workforce and other demands and needs and redirecting the Center’s activities as needed.

We have placed a renewed emphasis on increasing our interactions with and support for Maryland pre-veterinary students and Maryland practicing veterinarians. We have greatly increased our interactions with University of Maryland faculty who advise pre-vet students, and have invited them to our recently initiated “Meet the Faculty” seminars at the Gudlesky Center. The idea of these seminars is to have VMRCVM faculty travel to College Park to so that Maryland veterinarians will have the opportunity to get to know the VMRCVM faculty and have access to information on current veterinary issues. Our February seminar was postponed due to snow, but we plan to have it rescheduled shortly.

We are also working to be sure pre-veterinary students know that there is a VMRCVM campus here in College Park that is a resource for them, and that they are aware of seminars etc. that occur here, especially if the seminars are presented by VMRCVM faculty. A notice regarding the last “Meet the Faculty” seminar was sent to the UMD veterinary science club, and a number of students attended. They had the opportunity to not only meet the faculty here in College Park, but also to meet Dean Schurig and a number of other VMRCVM faculty who also attended, as well as Dean Wei of the UMD College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and several practicing veterinarians from Maryland. Dr. Jacque Pelzer, Director of Admissions for the VMRCVM, also attended and spoke about admissions, and stayed after the seminar to visit with the students. We have continued interacting with the UMD veterinary science club and have helped them find speakers for their meetings. We are also working to take members of the UMD veterinary science club, as well as some of their advisors, to Blacksburg to visit the VMRCVM.

Another focus over the last few months has been on assessing the current function and role of the Center, as well as the current needs and demands of public and corporate veterinary medicine. We’ve also been developing partnerships for future activities and potential funding opportunities, as well as increasing the awareness of the Center and its value. These areas of focus will serve to provide the basic framework needed for expansion of the Center. As part of this assessment process, we contacted VMRCVM graduates that have come through the public and corporate track to evaluate where they are now, what kind of work they’re doing, and to see if they have any suggestions for improvement. To do that, we created an online survey for 117 of those graduate veterinarians whose e-mail addresses we could find. We received an amazing 46% response rate, with a lot of very good feedback and suggestions thus far that we are incorporating in our planning regarding curriculum and activities. We also convened a roundtable of veterinarians engaged in a broad range of public practice, including representatives from a number of government agencies, the military, and the corporate world. The variety of perspectives not only gave us some good things to think about in our planning process, but also served to validate a number of our ideas and impressions. In addition, an advisory committee has been assembled to assist us as we start to coalesce our decisions and plans for redirection. MVMA representation on our advisory board is being shared by president Jim Reed and vice president Tom Armitage. Our first meeting was an all-day “stage setting and getting to know you” session at the Gudelsky Veterinary Center in College Park. Dr. Armitage attended the full day meeting, and we greatly appreciated his presence, and perspectives.

Finally, I am very pleased to announce that the Center has recently signed an agreement with the United States Animal Health Association (USAHA) to partner with us to create mentoring, education, and networking opportunities for veterinarians and veterinary students. The USAHA’s 1200 members are state and federal animal health officials, national allied organizations, and individual members. The organization works with state and federal governments, universities, research scientists, veterinarians, and others to protect animal and public health, and control livestock diseases in the U.S. and globally. If you’re not familiar with them, please visit their website at www.usaha.org. This is a huge opportunity for us, and we’re thrilled that they are eager to work with us.

My first draft of this article in which I laid out our plans and what we have underway so far was over 5 pages long single-spaced. I know if I sent that in, I’d probably never be asked for another article. So, what I am sharing here is a flavoring of a number of initiatives we have underway. One nice thing about being in a new position is everything seems possible. The potential for the CPCVM is tremendous, and we have ambitious plans. As we move forward, we intend to do so with MVMA at the table and will keep you posted on our plans and successes. We are forward-focused and energized, and look forward to working with you all to make the CPCVM a center we can all be proud of. If you have any thoughts, ideas or comments, please let me know at vragan@umd.edu.

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Important Links from this article

Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine

Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine

United States Animal Health Association


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