'Ambitious' strategic plan unveiled at AAVMC meeting

Goals include improving veterinary education, increasing research
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A difficult economic climate did not deter the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges' unveiling of its strategic plan, which will be used to guide future initiatives, including pushing forward discussions on the future of veterinary medical education.

The AAVMC rolled out its strategic goals and objectives and launched the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium (see story) at the association's 2009 annual meeting, March 12–16 in Washington, D.C.

AAVMC President James G. Fox kicked off the meeting's opening plenary session March 14 before 135 deans, college officials, department heads, faculty, and veterinary medical education stakeholders.

He called the association's strategic plan—the first in its 43-year history—an ambitious one. The plan presents the AAVMC's vision, mission, and values, in addition to six goals that will determine the association's priorities and allocation of resources over the next five years. They are as follows:

  • reviewing, evaluating, and improving veterinary medical education
  • increasing the amount of veterinary research conducted
  • recruiting a student body aligned with the demands for veterinary expertise
  • increasing the number of racially and/or ethnically underrepresented individuals in veterinary medicine
  • developing the next generation of leaders for academic veterinary medicine
  • strengthening the association's capacity to advance its mission

To see the full document, go to www.aavmc.org.

A strategic plan for the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges was unveiled at the association's annual meeting in March. Dr. James G. Fox, AAVMC president, was part of the 20-member steering committee that created the strategic plan.

Dr. Marguerite Pappaioanou, AAVMC executive director, said the main achievement in developing the plan was to show that the association understands the challenges member institutions are facing.

In light of budget cutbacks and a sour economy, she said "it's the perfect time for this meeting to turn our attention to the challenging discussions that fill everyone's day ... on things we can be doing more strategically, smarter, and better."

The plan is built in part on the findings of the AAVMC-sponsored Foresight Report. Released in early 2007, the report addresses how veterinary medical education must adapt in preparing veterinarians to respond to the future needs of society.

A strategic planning steering committee was formed in spring 2008 to lead the planning effort. It comprised 20 members representing veterinary colleges, other veterinary educational institutions, departments of comparative medicine, AAVMC staff, and industry. The committee solicited input from AAVMC members as well as stakeholders inside and outside academic veterinary medicine. Information was obtained through more than 60 interviews, an electronic survey, six focus groups of attendees from the 2008 annual meeting, and additional focus groups with students and faculty at two veterinary colleges.

"All those who participated gave input on what they saw as the highest priorities for AAVMC to address," Dr. Pappaioanou said.

Dr. Warwick A. Arden, AAVMC president-elect and chair of the steering committee, provided details of the plan at the 2009 meeting's plenary session. He said the AAVMC board of directors and staff will use the plan to guide decision making relevant to the association's goals and objectives, establish clear priorities, align the allocation of resources, and assess progress over time. The AAVMC also will review accomplishments and objectives each year.

In clarifying the relationship between the strategic plan and the Foresight Report, Dr. Arden said that the report "stretched our minds to think of what the future of veterinary medicine is, how to approach it, and what are the problems and solutions."

The strategic plan is different, he emphasized, because it focuses on priorities for the AAVMC, including its business priorities and what should be followed up on in the Foresight Report.

Dr. Arden continued, "AAVMC can only achieve its stated vision, mission, and goals outlined in the plan with the involvement and participation of and collaboration with its partners, stakeholders, and the entire veterinary medical profession, domestically and globally."

Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, AVMA executive vice president and CEO, agreed that neither the AAVMC nor the AVMA can go forward on matters such as workforce issues without collaboration.

"AVMA and AAVMC already have a strong partnership. These strategic goals identify several new areas where we can continue to work together for the benefit of the profession," Dr. DeHaven said.

The AAVMC is reaching out to its members to receive their input on the strategic plan and is developing an implementation plan.

"We have received very positive feedback about the plan, and AAVMC looks forward to working in collaboration with AVMA and its other partners to implement the plan," Dr. Pappaioanou said.

She noted, however, "We have finite resources, and the plan was developed in better economic times. With the new reality of things, we may not be able to move on the major objectives on all six goals at the same time."

Also at the meeting, a few AAVMC members were recognized for their contributions to the association (see story).