As the 2012 AVMA annual survey of forth-year veterinary medical students found, salaries are down and debt is up. What is the AVMA doing to support recent graduates during these trying times? As Assistant Director for Recent Graduate Initiatives, I was recently involved in two key events that are diving into these issues to help better leverage our veterinary education to create more career-ready, confident professionals. This will allow new hires to be more immediately productive for their employers to therefore earn a higher wage. It was also discussed what could be done to reduce the cost of veterinary education to have a lower starting debt for new graduates.
At the 2012 AVMA Convention in San Diego this August, I participated in the Educating and Employing Successful Graduates Roundtable. Recent graduate veterinarians, employers, and college deans (roughly 10 individuals from each category) met together to discuss opportunities to change the educational process to develop graduates who feel confident and ready to practice veterinary medicine once they walk out the door of veterinary school. This includes considering curriculum changes (adjusting the curriculum to cover the most pertinent information due to the volume of material, adding more “real-life” practice applications, and possible considerations of reduced undergraduate time), alterations in the admissions process (to obtain the best candidates for veterinary school), appropriate mentorship in the first year of practice as well as throughout veterinary school, creating a list of competencies that recent graduates should possess, and much more. Subcommittees on mentoring, transition, and competencies were established and a progress report will be prepared by late November.
Over the past weekend in Olathe, Kansas, I also joined the conversations at the Midwest Regional Consortium for Veterinary Medicine Sustainability.The Consortium included faculty and students from 6 colleges of veterinary medicine (University of Illinois, University of Missouri, Iowa State University, Oklahoma State University, Kansas State University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln), partner representatives (AVMA, VBMA, AAHA), and sponsor representatives (Pfizer, Bayer, Merck, Hill’s, Ceva, Boehringer Ingelheim). We focused on making veterinary school a more positive experience, developing more leaders (in the workplace, organized veterinary medicine, and life), opportunities to better leverage veterinary education, and developing a lifelong relationship with your college of veterinary medicine. The colleges created detailed strategies (including specific contact persons and deadlines) to incorporate upon their return, along with the aid of the partners and sponsors. The deans will be expected to implement these plans immediately, with a progress report due in January. Interestingly, there were similar ideas to institute change that resonated in both the Roundtable and the Consortium. With all these talented and passionate individuals working together, I am confident that the concepts created will elicit those changes.