Student AVMA discusses economics, 'one health,' education

SAVMA House of Delegates approves measures supportive of Caribbean colleges
Published on September 01, 2008
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Student AVMA
The Student AVMA House of Delegates meets in New Orleans during the 145th AVMA
Annual Convention.

Over the past few years, veterinary students have provided aid to animals during Hurricane Katrina, created the One Health Challenge, and established a blog for externs at the AVMA Governmental Relations Division in Washington, D.C.

That's according to Emi Eaton, president of the Student AVMA, in opening remarks during the summer meeting of the SAVMA House of Delegates. She spoke about how veterinary students have acted as community contributors, visionaries, educators, and agents of change.

The SAVMA HOD convened July 20-21 at the 145th AVMA Annual Convention in New Orleans. Two delegates attended from each U.S. veterinary college as well as from the Caribbean veterinary colleges at Ross University and St. George's University.

The SAVMA HOD warmly welcomed Drs. Gary S. Brown, the incoming AVMA vice president and SAVMA liaison, and Derrick D. Hall, the new Student AVMA adviser. 

Guest speakers

Dr. Karen Felsted, chief executive officer of the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues, was one of several speakers who addressed the delegates. She spoke about student debt, veterinarian shortages, and declining revenue in general veterinary practice. Delegates raised concerns about topics such as contract negotiation.

Allison Shepherd, AVMA senior manager for market research, presented results of student focus groups that met during the SAVMA Symposium in March 2008 to discuss animal welfare and identify issues students think are important to the profession. The subject matter included animal law, veterinary licensure, and corporate practice.

Mylissia Stukey, who works in rabies diagnostics at Kansas State University, talked about World Rabies Day 2007. Rabies awareness was the focus of SAVMA's 2007 One Health Challenge because of the disease's impact on animal and human health.

Veterinary colleges across the country raised funds that will help support rabies prevention in Vietnam, Peru, Guatemala, China, and Kenya. James Desmond of Tufts University won an Alliance for Rabies Control essay contest on the disease, allowing him to spend two weeks in Africa vaccinating animals and investigating rabies. He plans to publish a paper with his results in the coming year.

The veterinary colleges also will participate in World Rabies Day 2008, Sept. 28, as the focus of this year's One Health Challenge. On Oct. 18, Tuskegee University will host a rabies symposium.

Dr. Michael Chaddock, deputy director of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, spoke at SAVMA's summer meeting about the AAVMC Foresight Report on the future of veterinary education. He invited SAVMA to help develop a national plan to address challenges in veterinary education. 

Actions and activities

The SAVMA's ad hoc One Health Challenge Committee chose to change its focus in 2009 to raising awareness about increasing obesity in pets as well as pet owners. The SAVMA HOD added a member to the executive committee—global and public health ad hoc executive officer—to support the One Health Challenge.

The SAVMA HOD approved adding two nonvoting representatives from the new veterinary school at St. Matthew's University in the Caribbean and one nonvoting representative from Nebraska University, where Nebraskans enrolled at Iowa State's veterinary college can take two years of classes before transferring to the Iowa campus. Delegates also passed a resolution stating that SAVMA supports the accreditation efforts of the Ross and St. George's veterinary colleges.

The SAVMA committees reported the following:

  • The Animal Welfare-Human Animal Bond Committee held an essay contest on animal welfare. Michigan State University won the contest, earning the opportunity to host a welfare symposium in 2009.
  • The Emerging Issues Committee chose rising student debt as the topic for its essay contest.
  • The Governmental Affairs Committee is working to make the AVMA's state legislative updates available to students and to create a veterinary student day in Washington, D.C., to send students to lobby on Capitol Hill.
  • The International Veterinary Exchange Committee is working to improve communication via a new Web site and to compile a list of U.S. veterinarians willing to host foreign students for externships.
  • The Multicultural Student Outreach Committee's diversity forum was a great success at the 2008 SAVMA Symposium and will take place again in 2009. The committee added funding to send a member to the Iverson Bell Symposium on diversity in veterinary medicine, which the AAVMC holds every other year.
  • The Native American Project Committee is in the process of changing its mission and name to reach a broader range of underserved areas.

Rebecca Steers, SAVMA president-elect, is requesting annual reports from student chapters of the AVMA. These optional reports by SCAVMA presidents will detail the activities of each chapter. The reports will be available to SAVMA members on the SAVMA Web site. 

SAVMA officers

In other business, the SAVMA HOD installed new officers. They are David Laubert, University of Illinois, secretary-elect; Jennifer Bruno, Louisiana State University, treasurer-elect; Brandon Boren, Western University, information technologies officer-elect; Christopher Hall, Purdue University, The Vet Gazette editor-elect; and Ryan Colburn, Michigan State University, global and public health ad hoc executive officer.

With the president and president-elect, the continuing officers are Cynthia Albert, Louisiana State University, treasurer; Bryant Blank, Kansas State University, information technologies officer; Laura Chan, Western University, international exchange officer; Virginia Kiefer, University of Tennessee, international exchange officer-elect; and Beth Pelletier, Tufts University, editor of The Vet Gazette.

The SAVMA HOD will meet next at SAVMA Symposium 2009, March 26-28 at The Ohio State University.

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"Externs on the Hill: The Life & Times
AVMA Student Externs in Our Nation's Capital"
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