Executive Board members unanimously showed their confidence in the economic blueprint the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues is charting by investing a substantial amount of membership dues in NCVEI projects designed to strengthen the core competencies of the profession.
The board approved an expenditure of $205,369 to fund a proposal from the NCVEI Work Group on Strategies To Increase the Skills, Knowledge, Aptitude, and Attitude of Veterinarians. The overall purpose of this initiative is to improve the skills, knowledge aptitude, and attitude (SKA) across the spectrum, from students in the preveterinary curriculum to veterinarians.
AVMA President James H. Brandt spoke fervently in support of the measure. "The positive benefits of this financial support will be so great to AVMA that they will be hard to count. We can show industry, media, every allied association and the public that veterinarians support the work being done by the NCVEI."
Sponsorships have been obtained for a number of NCVEI working group projects. AVMA leaders recognize the importance of the Association funding appropriate projects so that the NCVEI remains member driven.
The newly funded NCVEI proposal encompasses six projects.
The purpose of project one, "Careers in Veterinary Medicine—Beliefs and Values of Potential Applicants," is to conduct job analyses and surveys to develop a better understanding of the beliefs, expectations, and values that persons with the requisite competencies for a career in veterinary medicine hold about the profession. Information on the nature of these beliefs and expectations and how they compare with the actual experiences of veterinarians will be used to recommend courses of action that could improve the likelihood of attracting the type of people who will be successful.
Project two, "National Workshop on Core Competencies for Success in the Veterinary Profession," would build on the work of a pilot project that is in progress. A private-sector human resource management firm, Personnel Decisions International, is working with a consortium of nine veterinary schools to identify the competencies and attributes that lead to success in a veterinary career. Those schools and Bayer Corporation are funding this study. Project two involves holding a national workshop to analyze the pilot project results on a national level, develop recommendations, and devise an action plan. The workshop may be held in conjunction with the Nine States Veterinary Conference in August 2002.
Project three, "A Recommended Curriculum for Veterinary Professional Development and Career Success," would continue the work on a curriculum developed at an October 2001 workshop at Michigan State University, and focus on implementation plans. Another workshop objective was to foster professional interaction between educators and consultants in the area of veterinary practice management. Project three will involve an additional workshop to promote continued discussions between them.
Project four, "Development of a Veterinary Teaching Hospital Business Model," is predicated on the idea that progressive management of veterinary teaching hospitals would serve as an ideal model for students and practitioners. A team of academicians, private practitioners, and practice management consultants would combine their expertise to identify current teaching hospital successes and needs for improvement. They would then co-author a monograph. This project will complement a current NCVEI project that is establishing benchmark parameters for successful private practice.
Project five, "The Veterinary Leadership Institute," involves formation of an institute that will develop and implement programs to enhance the leadership skills of veterinarians and students. Plans are to involve two or three veterinary colleges and designate one as the lead. The institute will collaborate with respected pioneers in leadership training for executives. Initially, focus groups will help identify key issues, then a survey will be sent to veterinarians across the profession. The results will be compiled and published. After this needs assessment, the institute would begin to design and conduct a variety of leadership programs, to be presented in workshops at national allied group meetings and at the institute.
Project six, "Developing Skills, Knowledge, Aptitudes, and Attitudes Experts," will establish a graduate training/fellowship program in veterinary career development and practice management. The person(s) appointed in this program during its first year will serve as the primary coordinator(s) for the other five newly funded projects. Selected individuals will be trained—ideally, veterinarians who are shifting their career interests toward helping the profession, as specialists in career development and practice management. When the program is completed, they will be expected to return to leadership positions in organized veterinary medicine, academia, government or industry to apply their skills toward developing and sustaining the profession.
Most of the $205,369 funding allocation went to project one ($89,569) and project six ($65,800). Projects two and three were funded at $10,000 each, and projects four and five at $15,000 each.
Earlier in the Executive Board meeting, Howard Rubin, CEO of the NCVEI, gave a visual overview on phase one of another NCVEI resource—the Analytical Pricing and Benchmarking Tools. This new resource enables veterinarians who log onto www.ncvei.org to answer a series of questions to determine "how their operating results compare," Rubin said, "to inspire them in a pragmatic way to operate their facilities more efficiently and price their services more analytically."
"We're providing veterinarians with a frame of reference ... and recommendations about what others have done to be successful," he said.
Rubin briefly addressed the board about the SKA projects they were to consider funding at the meeting. In the weeks following board approval, Rubin told JAVMA, "The importance of allied group input for these newly funded projects is huge. When we look at the applicant pool to determine all the factors that make people decide why to go to veterinary school, and what their interests are, we must have the criteria not just for companion animal medicine, but areas beyond that, such as food animal medicine and biotechnology."
James W. Lloyd, a member of the SKA Work Group, said there will be many opportunities for input from the food animal medicine sector. For example, the project for defining the beliefs and values of prospective veterinary school applicants will have a food animal-specific focus group, as will the current pilot project that involves veterinary schools improving their admissions process. Food animal interests will be considered when developing the business model for teaching hospitals, and food animal careers will receive special attention during the Veterinary Leadership Institute needs assessment.