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  News from the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association                                                    Spring 2011

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News from the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine

by Valerie E. Ragan, DVM - Director

It’s that time of year again. I remember all the rumors swirling around the year I was applying to veterinary school. If you got a fat envelope, it meant you were accepted because all the papers you had to fill out were enclosed. If it was a thin envelope, it was a “sorry, try next year” letter. You could just look in your mailbox and know if you were accepted or not without even opening the envelope. The selection process for the new incoming class for the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine has been completed and acceptance letters have been sent out. I’m really not sure how fat the envelopes are these days, but I do know

that the new class has not been completely formed yet as the college is waiting for the final acceptance letters to be returned. However, VMRCVM did see a significant increase in applications, especially with those selecting VMRCVM as their first choice. This will be an outstanding class and we would like to thank all the MVMA members who served as mentors for applicants, and who participated in the interview process.

The current first year class will be declaring their track focus this spring choosing from small animal medicine, large animal medicine, mixed animal medicine, equine medicine, and public and corporate medicine. We are excited for all of these students, especially those who have indicated an interest in the Public and Corporate track. These new students and those currently in the Public and Corporate track will be seeing significant changes in curriculum, focus and advising processes.

The curriculum has been adapted to meet the current and future needs of the profession. This includes a shift in emphasis from primarily teaching factual information to actively helping students access information, critically analyze, and communicate. We are also providing a platform for them to explore career options and prepare for their futures in veterinary medicine

An emphasis is being placed on those skills needed for success across the spectrum of veterinary practice – communication, public speaking, problem solving, critical thinking, strategic analysis and interpersonal skills. These mirror many of the core competencies identified by numerous working groups within the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium and we are weaving active development of these skills into our public and corporate curriculum.

For example, the Veterinary Public Policy course taught by Dr. Stephen Sundlof, has been modified to be a problems-based course challenging students to evaluate current real-world issues, analyze the critical elements and develop and defend policies that meet political, societal, health, and economic realities. The previous International Veterinary Medicine course has been revamped into a new Veterinarians in the Global Community course. Students in this class will learn not only about globalization and its impact on current and emerging zoonotic diseases, trade, welfare, and environmental issues, but the “big picture” view of why involvement in those issues are important to veterinarians and to the United States. I am enjoying the challenge of teaching this course and am drawing on my own experiences working around the world to add a “real world” flavor to the issues we’ll be exploring in the class.

The current students and alumni have been essential contributors in creating a Career Pathway Guidance program for students that we are in the process of implementing, with a focus on self-assessment and exploration. Career Pathway Guides and self-assessment worksheets have been developed for students who have an interest in and want to explore opportunities in federal or state government practice, corporate veterinary practice, laboratory animal medicine, pathology, research, shelter medicine, international veterinary medicine, and zoo/wildlife practice. These guides and self-assessment worksheets have become the foundation working documents for students as they explore career options and plan their futures. CPCVM faculty as well as an extensive pool of Career Advisors (veterinarians from across the broad spectrum of public practice who have volunteered to participate) will be matched with interested students to provide students with real world perspectives, personal experiences and direction as they pursue their personal and professional goals. We would like to acknowledge the assistance of the United States Animal Health Association (USAHA) and the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) as strategic partners in the continued development of this Career Pathway Guidance program.

We are regularly contacted by veterinarians interested in transitioning from private to public practice who are looking for guidance and assistance. For graduate veterinarians, we are will be expanding the Career Pathway Development program so as to better be able to provide guidance, self-assessment and career advising for those contemplating a career change; something we do frequently on an ad-hoc basis now. Because of the increased interest, we are developing a Career Transition Workshop for graduate veterinarians tentatively planned to be held at the VMRCVM Gudelsky Campus in College Park in September. If you are interested in changing careers, evaluating what opportunities there may be, meeting with veterinarians from hiring agencies, and getting practical advice on finances, resumes, negotiating, networking, interviewing and other career skills, you will not want to miss this event. These skills and knowledge become even more critical as state and federal budgets are restricted and corporate hiring is extremely competitive. Those prepared and informed will be best situated for a successful career transition.

And as a final note, our newest faculty member, Dr. Gary Vroegindewey (“Dr. V” to us) was an invited speaker on agroterrorism at the NATO Weapons of Mass Destruction Forensics Conference in Prague, the Czech Republic, on Feb. 2. The audience included participants from White House National Security Staff, Office of the Secretary of Defense, senior NATO representatives, United Nations, INTERPOL, FBI Forensics Lab, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and others with WMD deterrence and response roles. In his presentation, Dr. V emphasized the role of agriculture as part of the U.S. Critical Infrastructure network and discussed the potential devastating impacts of an agricultural terror event.

Once again, I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to serve as MVMA director-at-large, and feel that the regular interactions with MVMA in that role has been a huge help to our efforts here in College Park. Have a wonderful spring!
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