February 01, 2007


 Experts center on issues surrounding teaching hospitals

Posted Jan. 15, 2007

Veterinary teaching hospitals and the future of clinical veterinary medical education were the focus of a three-day meeting organized by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. The American Association of Veterinary Clinicians, AVMA, and Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc. sponsored the event.

The November meeting followed up on the AAVC annual meeting during spring 2006, when the issue of veterinary specialists leaving academia for practice was discussed (see JAVMA, Aug. 1, 2006).

At the AAVMC meeting, Dr. Colin Burrows from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine gave a presentation on meeting the expectations of referring veterinarians.

With the emerging number of specialty practices around the country, referring veterinarians have a lot more choices today than in the past, Dr. Burrows said. He provided a set of ideas for teaching hospitals on how to develop and nurture positive relationships with referring veterinarians, including hosting a referring veterinarian appreciation day and establishing a hospital newsletter.

Dr. David Lee from the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center focused on veterinary teaching hospitals as profit centers during his talk. One key point, Dr. Lee identified, was improving communication with clients and referring veterinarians. Establishing a professional call center, for example, would provide one phone number for all incoming questions, offer extended hours for nonemergency questions, and provide better customer service overall.

After evaluating the changing community and financial responsibilities of teaching hospitals, attendees centered on the reason teaching hospitals exist in the first place—students. Dr. Scott Brown with the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine gave a presentation on the expectations of veterinary students in their clinical year and how to help them meet those expectations.

A presentation by David Andrus, PhD, with Kansas State University on student and employer expectations of entry-level, large animal veterinarians represented the production medicine side of the issue. Dr. Andrus was one of the authors of a three-part series in JAVMA summarizing studies that the Food Supply Veterinary Medicine Coalition commissioned in May 2004.

Also of note, Richard Valachovic, DMD, executive director of the American Dental Education Association, was invited to share issues affecting dental schools, a number of which are similar to those affecting veterinary teaching hospitals. Thirty-one of 56 dental schools report having more vacant faculty positions than usual, according to Dr. Valachovic. To help recruit, develop, and retain dental and allied dental faculty, the ADEA has a number of initiatives. The initiatives include fellowship opportunities, a leadership institute, and an ongoing collection and analysis of data on the faculty workforce, student concerns, and other aspects of dental education.

A set of action plans based on the information coming from the meeting are expected to be developed during the 41st annual meeting of the AAVMC, to be held March 1-6, 2007. Meanwhile, to view a number of the November meeting's presentations, log on to www.aavmc.org.