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  News from the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association                                                   Summer 2012

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Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine Update
by Valerie Ragan, DVM, Director

As we move through 2012 here on the Maryland campus of the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine we are continuing to evolve to best position ourselves to meet the demands for future public veterinary practitioners.

In May 2012 the National Academy of Sciences released their long awaited study which was requested by the American Association of American Veterinary Colleges (AAVMC) entitled “Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine.” The study concluded that there are sectors of unmet needs for veterinarians, but little evidence of widespread workforce shortages at this time.

However, the study found an imbalance in the distribution of veterinarians, and expressed concern about the state of veterinary workforce in critical areas of veterinary medicine, such as the public sector. The report identified a tremendous need for veterinarians to become involved in food and water security and safety.

Dr. Andrew Maccabe, the AAVMC Executive Director stated, “As the population increases and veterinary medicine evolves, we expect that veterinarians will fill more roles in a broad range of careers not typically linked in the public’s mind with veterinary medicine, including bioterrorism and emergency preparedness, environmental health, food safety and security, food production systems, regulatory medicine, diagnostic laboratory medicine, biomedical research, health promotion and disease prevention, public health research, and epidemiology. Veterinarians are already working in these critical areas, but the need for veterinary expertise in non-traditional areas is increasing.”

Luckily, we have been anticipating this finding, as it is the same thing we are hearing in our discussions with the federal agencies and others. As a result, we have been modifying our public and corporate track curriculum and working to expand our partnerships and opportunities for students over the last several years.

In addition, we have prepared a white paper on a proposal for the CPCVM to truly function as a National Center of Excellence, with the ability to serve as a national resource for veterinary students interested in public practice, and veterinarians wishing to make career transitions throughout the country. If you are interested in seeing that monograph, please feel free to send me an e-mail at vragan@umd.edu

As an example of change, we have just concluded the first semester of a brand-new course Problem Solving in Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine. In this course students were engaged in using analytical tools to identify issues, stakeholders and solution sets for complex problems that public veterinary practitioners have faced.
Real cases are used, and when possible, we featured the veterinarian who had to resolve the issue.

One of our guest presenters was Dr. John Clifford, USDA’s Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) for the United States, and the U.S. representative to the World Health Organization for Animals (OIE). Dr. Clifford led a discussion on how a country’s CVO would lead the response to a disclosure of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy  (BSE), commonly referred to as “mad cow disease.” The discussion revolved around managing a national response to such a challenge, including the technical steps for confirmation at an international laboratory, as well as appropriate communications with the press to minimize impacts and prevent public overreaction.

The students were asked to develop and present their own brief press statements as if they were the CVO, and Dr. Clifford then played the role of the press and asked them questions, some of them quite difficult to answer. Ironically, about two weeks after that class, BSE was disclosed in the United States, and Dr. Clifford was all over the news as he responded to it. The students in the class enthusiastically followed his management of the case, and were sending me press statements and YouTube videos where they had carefully observed and noted his comments and the response of the press.

Although I would never wish for a case of BSE to be disclosed in this country it was a great learning experience and demonstrated to the students the importance of appropriately and swiftly managing the case, and communicating on a topic that has huge public interest and the potential to devastate our multi-billion dollar export market.

We are also continuing to build our collaborative efforts with other agencies and veterinary colleges in the public and corporate arena. Dr. Gary Vroegindewey from our faculty has reinvigorated and is leading a “One Health” clerkship in the Dominican Republic in conjunction with the Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. As I write this he is in the Dominican Republic with two of our fourth year students, working on developing a One Health risk assessment for Punta Cana, including government and non-government human health agencies, endemic zoonotic diseases, human and environmental and factors contributing to health risk, and options for prevention and control.

Gary will also be delivering a global health course in conjunction with Tufts University at Mississippi State University the last week of July. He also recently delivered a lecture on veterinary global health at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences.

One difficult change for us has been that Dr. Steve Sundlof, who has been with us for the past two years funded by the Food and Drug Administration, has completed his detail here and has moved on. He was a huge contributor to the CPCVM, and we are very grateful to the FDA for allowing him to work with us over the last two years. We are seeking his replacement, but he left very big shoes to fill. We will advise you of our progress.

We are so excited about the potential for the Center. We see ourselves as continually evolving to meet the challenges of the future, and to be able to best prepare our students and those veterinarians who wish to make career changes for new careers in expanding areas of veterinary medicine. The MVMA has been a great partner, and I would like to thank both the MVMA, and especially Tom Armitage who has served on our advisory board over the last several years.

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Important Links from this article

Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine

Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine

Curriculum Changes to Better Equip Studens Seeking Careers in Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine

 

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