Action items from the Economics of Veterinary Medical Education Summit

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Four groups of stakeholders attended the summit: veterinary students and recent graduates, representatives from veterinary colleges, employers of veterinarians, and individuals from governmental agencies and veterinary associations. Each group was asked to collaboratively develop conceptual solutions and define clear steps to reduce the educational debt burden on students and new veterinarians.

More than 50 participants represented 30 of the 37 AVMA Council on Education–accredited veterinary colleges in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. They committed to the following:

  • To explore the possibility of implementing a five- to six-year combined preveterinary-veterinary degree program.
  • To encourage creation of national partnerships and campaigns to raise funds for scholarships.
  • To work with the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges and AVMA in advocating for legislation to help reduce student debt.
  • To document actual educational costs to create greater transparency in revenue lines for research versus education.
  • To explore and implement shared educational resources for clinical and preclinical courses.

Thirty-seven participants represented associations and organizations that support the profession, including the Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, American Animal Hospital Association, National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, and state VMAs. They committed to the following:

  • To enhance awareness among students by delivering financial literacy materials and training.
  • To compile and standardize career-related student messaging and develop a career guidebook for use by preveterinary and high school counselors.
  • To increase advocacy efforts to address student debt.
  • To create a national campaign around student debt.
  • To include student debt as a regular follow-up agenda item at annual events such as the AVMA Economic Summit, AVMA Convention, and AAVMC Conference for the purpose of monitoring progress on efforts to reduce the debt-to-income ratio, keeping the topic active, and holding each other accountable.

About 50 veterinary students and recent graduates represented 16 veterinary colleges and more than 10 employers. They committed to the following:

  • To personally engage deans, their peers, and future students in conversations about financial literacy and student debt.
  • To inform preveterinary and high school students about the current student debt issue and discuss what is being done to address it.
  • To change the mindset of students and recent graduates to encourage them to think not just in terms of practice ownership but more broadly in terms of entrepreneurship.
  • To collectively draft a letter that each student and recent graduate who attended the summit would send to their respective deans and policymakers detailing specific action items.

Employers of veterinarians, including Banfield Pet Hospital, National Veterinary Associates, and The Humane Society of the United States, committed to the following:

  • To reconsider compensation packages for new graduates and associate veterinarians.
  • To improve the onboarding of new employees and create a toolkit for best practices.
  • To promote veterinary preventive care among staff within practices and in other areas of the profession, opening opportunities for recent graduates to earn more income.
  • To promote practice ownership as an attractive career.