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  News from the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association                                                    Summer  2013

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Veterinary Public Practice - The New Horizon?
by Valerie E. Ragain, DVM, Director

The future of veterinary medicine has been receiving considerable attention lately with the recent release of two documents: the National Academy of Science’s, “Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine” and the AVMA’s “2013 US Veterinary Workforce Study.” These recent studies have alerted the profession to the challenges facing both current students and past graduates resulting in the need to expand opportunities for veterinarians. These studies and others have also noted that veterinarians must make a more concerted effort to serve broader societal needs. While the workforce and other recent studies indicate imbalances in the veterinary profession, particularly in the companion animal arena, emerging needs have been identified across an array of non-clinical practice activities including research, teaching, policy, public health, food safety and security, trade, disease surveillance and other related disciplines and focus areas.

It is apparent that the “needs” for the veterinarians of the future appear to be evolving; however, “needs” does not always translate directly into “jobs”. So what can we do about it? At the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine (CPCVM) on the Maryland campus of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, we recognize this and strongly believe that increasing potential job opportunities can be addressed in two ways; by expanding our own understanding of the positions we as veterinarians have the skills to qualify for, and by making more potential employers aware of these skills. As a first step towards addressing the need for expansion of job opportunities for veterinarians, we are working with the National Association of Federal Veterinarians and the AVMA’s Government Relations Division to increase opportunities in federal service. Currently there is concern for the lack of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals to fill an increasing demand for positions within federal service which is necessary to support progress and innovation. Veterinarians, with our broad-based skills sets, can be utilized to address many of these future needs, both in federal service as well as in the corporate world. We have initiated a draft white paper that we plan to take to federal agency leadership and their human resources personnel, discussing the skills and abilities that veterinarians possess that could be utilized in a broad array of federal positions. Our goal is to work with the federal agencies and the Office of Personal Management (OPM) to identify and increase the utilization of veterinarians in the federal sector. The unique training in comparative medicine that veterinarians receive can serve to strengthen the federal scientific and medical workforce allowing for improved public health initiatives, biomedical research, food safety, agriculture production, environmental health and conservation.

To address the second piece, which is to expand veterinarian’s understanding of opportunities and how to pursue them, the CPCVM is continuing to conduct career transition workshops. These workshops provide information and assistance for veterinarians who are exploring career options and the processes necessary to make career transitions. We continue to offer the workshops due to a high level of interest. “Prior attendees have been hired by corporations, federal and state governments, non-profits, started their new businesses and initiated a wide variety of career transitions.” said Dr. Gary Vroegindewey of our CPCVM faculty. One attendee from last year sent a thank you note that best expressed our aspirations for the workshop, “It was phenomenal and I finally feel like I actually have options and no longer have to feel trapped in my current job. Thank you SO MUCH for your help!!!!” Another simply said,“This workshop changed my life.”

Similar concerns appear to exist on a national level as well. I was recently invited to speak to the Executive Board of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), to discuss trends and opportunities in public and corporate veterinary practice, as the AVMA considers the results of these recent studies and what they mean for the future of the profession. Following a dynamic discussion, AVMA expressed an interest in establishing a partnership with the CPCVM to address the expansion of opportunities for veterinarians in public practice.

We at CPCVM cannot promise to change your life, but we can promise to provide you the information and tools to explore career options and start the process of career transition. The next workshop is scheduled for September 27 and 28, 2013 on the College Park, Maryland campus of VRMCVM. We will have an announcement and registration information for it posted on the CPCVM website soon.

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© 2013 Maryland Veterinary Medical Association

PO Box 5407 • Annapolis, MD 21403 • (410) 268-1311 • fax (410) 268-1322