President’s Weekly Update: Economic Strategy is Still a High Priority

Hi AVMA members!  I want to let you know the Economic Vision Steering Committee is meeting by conference call next week to discuss several issues pertaining to the national economic strategy.  We can let you know more after next week.  This continues to be a major concern for members in all my discussions at various meetings, most recently at the Colorado VMA meeting.  However, we must remember, not all is doom and gloom.  We need to realize we cannot keep going down the same road of increasing tuition and class sizes with underemployment and decreasing compensation, the high cost of our current educational models, and current decreases in use of veterinary services.  That is the “doom and gloom” part because we must have everyone understand there is a crisis looming on the horizon (even closer for some of our members) if we don’t work now to change some fundamental issues for veterinary medicine.

However, there is a very bright light at the end of this tunnel and a very bright silver lining to this cloud.  Don’t despair.  Once we get through this current recession, there are enormous potential markets for increasing demand, and great potential for our national strategy.   The most important part is we all must understand the need for urgency to address these issues and believe it will happen.  Follow this link for a blog by Eric Brown on the need for urgency as it relates to John Kotter’s book on A Sense of Urgency and why understanding this is so important to organizational and professional change.  Then we will move on to step two > creating the guiding coalition that will help move this initiative forward toward our vision to be sure “veterinary medicine is a personally and financially rewarding profession“.

Our  first action in this strategy includes defining the charge and makeup of the new Veterinary Economics Strategy Committee (VESC).  The VESC description has been finalized and is open for nominations through October 31.  View the link above to see the charge, membership, and process for nominations.  People can self-nominate themselves on the provided Nomination Form for committees, or have an association nominate them.  We need a diverse and knowledgable group for this committee, so please everyone, if you have an interest, or know of someone who is knowledgeable in economic issues (they do not need to be a veterinarian), please submit a nomination form.  Stay tuned for more updates!  And stay positive!

25 thoughts on “President’s Weekly Update: Economic Strategy is Still a High Priority

  1. @Karen Comer
    I do appreciate your concern over these issues and members’ concerns. To your first point about specific examples or programs to justify a “bright light at the end of this tunnel”, we have initiated some actions which will then develop these specific activities. Those actions include a veterinary economics advisory committee and a new Veterinary Economics Division at AVMA, and the funding to support it. I would call that a specific example, and it will be a tremendous addition to keep veterinary medicine in a more forward thinking position in the business department. (The bright light might have a shade over it at the moment, but we are working to make it more visible!)

    As to your second point about “enormous potential markets”, I believe there are many opportunities that veterinarians are simply not considered for because of the stereotype that we are small animal “pet vets”, and many do not realize the highly complex and qualified education we bring to the table in population medicine, risk assessment, or public health issues. I don’t think I am telling you anything you don’t already know in terms of our qualifications. Yet, our stereotype limits some possibilities and we must work to broaden the public’s understanding of who we are and what we do for them. In addition, in the not so distant future, I believe there will be many opportunities for us in One Health categories globally that we have not considered, but we have to go after them. The rest of the world’s veterinarians will be going after them, especially as companion animal medicine continues to improve around the world and in food production with the ever-increasing demand for animal protein worldwide.
    And third, if you ask the students, they are more concerned about their educational debt levels and the decreased job market from our own supply of veterinarians more than from foreign schools. However, I understand the angst over this issue. All I can say is we are looking at the issue of foreign school accreditation with a soon to be appointed task force. UNAM (Mexico)spent many years preparing to meet COE standards as a matter of pride as much as anything else, and there has been little infusion of their graduates into the US, despite some people thinking more Spanish speaking veterinarians would help serve a currently under-served population with our expanding Hispanic population, as you state.

    It is understandable to be pessimistic or guarded. These are very difficult times for many people, professions and higher education, including for veterinary medicine. However, I have always believed it is better to take action, put our heads together, and work to improve a situation, than sit back and let nature take its course. It appears (from your website) you have an outstanding new hospital that provides excellent services. I hope you will keep working with us, and know that we at AVMA are committed to improving our profession’s economic viability because if we do nothing, we will be in more serious trouble. I continue to be optimistic! Thank you for your candor, any ideas, and your membership.

  2. Dr. Carlson,

    I am sorry that the content of this thread is not very encouraging that the AVMA will be effective in addressing the concerns of the members, or implementing any meaningful programs.

    From your initial post which lists some specific concerns that practicing veterinarians have voiced, i.e. increasing tuition, decreasing compensation, enlarging class size, you state that there is a “bright light light at the end of this tunnel” and a “bright silver lining to this cloud” yet you offer NO specific programs or examples that support this statement.

    Specifically what are the “enormous potential markets” that you mention? What is “our national strategy”?

    In your comments of October 12th you state that the students are not concerned about Mexico. Well that might be true, but they are students and have not yet experienced what is happening in the private sector. What about dues-paying practicing veterinarians? I suspect a poll of this segment of AVMA will show concern about this.

    You state that it is only “paranoia and speculation” that Mexican graduates will flood the market. I believe that the fastest growing demographic in the United States is the Hispanic population, and much of that is from immigration. Do YOU have credible data to dispute that significant numbers of Mexican graduates will not be immigration to practice?

  3. @Greg Nutt

    Greg, I do not question any member’s right to question our policies and in fact, welcome the discussion. That is how we deliberate and make decisions. I merely disagreed with the opinions being expressed in those particular comments, just as you disagreed with mine. In answer to your first issue of AVMA accreditation of foreign veterinary medical programs, I have copied below my original response to this issue from Sept. 22 on this blog:

    “As you probably know, the AVMA Executive Board has responded to the House of Delegate’s Resolution 5 by authorizing a Task Force to address this very issue of foreign school accreditation because it is of such interest to members. It will hopefully have a diverse group of members to look at all sides of the issue in an objective manner. Your very question should be addressed this next year by the Task Force on Foreign School Accreditation. You can see the specific charge at OR on the website under ABOUT AVMA > Volunteer Opportunities > How Do I Become a Volunteer > Vacancies where it lists the three new Task Forces and the Nomination Forms. You should consider submitting a nomination form.” (Although, I must say the deadline for nominations for this TF was October 31.)

    AVMA heard our members loud and clear, and responded to the HOD Resolution to look at this issue with a Task Force that is in the process of being appointed. The Executive Board will look at their deliberations very seriously, and make a decision based on their findings. I think this process is a good one.

    As to the second issue relating to Dr. Marshak’s commentary in the Nov. 1 issue of JAVMA, I can only speak as someone who has indeed served on this Council. It is an extremely hard-working group (no argument here, I hope) and the people there are intensely dedicated to upholding the Standards as they are written. I would have two suggestions:
    1. The standards are all opened for public comment at regular intervals. This year Standard 10, Research, and Standard 11, Outcomes Assessment, are open for public comment with the deadline being on December 1. I would suggest you submit your comments.
    2. I would refer you to the Accreditation Policies and Procedures manual for the Council on Education. The link is I can assure you while I was on the Council (2004-2010) and I suspect also while the two other current Executive Board members who have previously served on the Council, that the Standards evaluated in consideration of each school’s decisions(based on their comprehensive self-study and the site visits), foreign or domestic, were strongly deliberated and upheld if evidence supported that decision. I think this is a bit like being on a jury – public perception is many times different when one is not hearing all the evidence being presented. If no one was holding COE’s process accountable, that would be different. However the COE is strictly held accountable by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The P&P manual is very thorough and transparent, open for public view at this link.

    May I suggest we wait for the report from the Task Force on Foreign School accreditation and for the next evaluation of COE by the USDE and CHEA? There is no stricter scrutiny. IMHO

  4. @René Carlson, AVMA President
    Dr. Carlson,

    I have taken time away from this important discussion to try to gain new perspective and further educate myself on these issues. I accept that we strongly disagree on the importance of COE accreditation of foreign schools as it relates to a healthy profession here at home, but I find it difficult to accept that our AVMA president considers it “off base” for a member to question the AVMA’s stance on this. You have basically stated that foreign accreditation is good for our profession at home because, well, you say so. You have given me nothing tangible to support your belieg besides your personal opinion and I find this disappointing.

    I find that in private practice, if I cannot explain the importance of a procedure to my clients fairly quickly and concisely, it is probably not perceived as being important.

    Perhaps we can at least agree upon the process of accreditation. You have stated “The AVMA COE does a great job holding veterinary educational programs to a high standard” and “The COE determines accreditation based on quality of education to meet the very rigerous 11 standards”. Based on these standards, it appears that several of the most recently accredited schools do not meet all of the required standards to garner full accreditation. Further insight by Dr. Marshak leads me to question whether these are standards at all. It appears that they may be closer to general guidelines, as the standards that I follow in my hospital are things that are not negotiable.

    As a person who has sat on the COE and has been privy to a process that many of us find foreign, can you shine a lite on why it appears that several recently accreditated schools do not meet the COE’s standards?

    thank you
    Greg Nutt

  5. I did not mean to imply that acreditation standards should be different for different schools. I did not mean to imply any ill will toward Mexico or its veterinary students, my future colleagues in this great profession. I am simply trying to point out that the IMPACT that this school will have on US veterinarians is likely to be very different from previously accredited schools. And yes, I am equally if not more concerned about our own vet schools adding more and more students, opening new vet schools, etc. I believe we are quickly heading down the same path as the law profession– too many schools producing too many graduates and the value of the degree plummeting.

    If I am way “off base,” I am not alone. As Greg points out, these views are shared by many of your most esteemed members. Ask them and see.

  6. @René Carlson, AVMA President
    Dr. Carlson,

    You are certainly entitled, like any of us, to your opinion. I believe that if you were to poll the members of the AVMA, you would find out that most would disagree with you. And therein lies the problem. Until our leadership gets on the same page with its membership, our profession will continue to flounder. I appreciate your willingness to discuss these issues, but the fact that your viewpoints are very similar to your predecessors gives me the impression that our organization is talking out of both sides of its mouth.

    I mean you no disrespect but I feel that when push comes to shove, we are just spinning our wheels here.

  7. I have to comment in response to Greg and Ruth. First of all, I disagree completely with both of you. I do not try to be politically correct or evasive. The AVMA COE does a great job holding veterinary educational programs to a high standard and gives our own DVM degrees status as one of the best in the world. Second, I think you are also being quite speculative on suggesting that Mexico is different and will flood our workforce. There is nothing to suggest that is true other than paranoia and speculation. Students in this country are not worried about Mexico, but rather the increase in class size in this country. Third, your argument that Mexico is different holds no water. The COE determines accreditation based on quality of education to meet the very rigorous 11 standards, and has nothing to do with where they are located. Are you suggesting it is fine to evaluate schools on distant shores, but if they are in our hemisphere, we should hold them to a different standard? Nothing could be further from the truth. I completely believe in transparency and honesty, and for you to suggest otherwise is bothersome to me. The AVMA COE provides a worldwide respected service and gives the degrees earned in this country value above all others. I appreciate your comments, but you are way off base!

  8. Dr. Carlson,
    I agree with Dr. Nutt’s assessment of these isuues. Your statement that “historically, graduates from foreign schools have not flooded the US market” is very unhelpful. Historically, those schools have been geographically distant from the US (UK and Australia) or economically equivalent to the US (Canada.) Is the AVMA so blind as to not see how VASTLY different the Mexico school is? Their graduates live right next door and have a huge financial incentive to practice in the US. Banfield has made it very clear that they are eager to employ these bilingual veterinarians. We will lose veterinary jobs to these new arrivals who can afford to accept lower salaries– they have no huge educational debts like our students do. We will lose small independent veterinary practices who can not compete with the large corporations cheap labor and purchasing power. Is that fair? Is that what I pay my dues for?

    I still wish for your success, and I respect you enormously for tackling these issues. But I too find your replies increasingly vague and evasive. We need honest, direct answers, and decisive actions.

  9. @René Carlson, AVMA President
    Dr. Carlson,
    Thank you again for your time.

    I was hoping for more straightforward responses in regards to some of the prior posts that I felt were unclear. Your responses, however, appear non-commital; almost politician-like. Perhaps I lack the ability to understand these issues fully. It appears that we are only going in cicles at this point, so this will be my last post on this subject.

    After reading thru your posts, it appears that the AVMA’s COE is not benefical to the majority of dues paying members. If anything, it probably takes the focus away from what it is most members pay dues for; which is representation of our interests here at home. I can see no point in being perceived as the best in the world if we cannot create/maintain a vibrant and viable profession here in our own backyard.

    In regards to potential opportunities in other countries, I would venture that all industrialized/westernized nations have an effective system in place for fulfilling their needs as it relates to the veterinary workforce. Those rare, emerging economies that possibly could grow and require additional veterinarians would be a realistic option only for those of us who are: 1. willing to leave all friends, family, and support systems behind. 2. willing to move halfway across the world. and 3. willing and able to become proficient in a foreign language. I don’t think that this is a realistic option for the greater majority of AVMA members.

    Finally, I think that it is extremely naive to think that at least a fair number of graduates from Mexico won’t be entering our workforce now that the AVMA has made it easier for them to do so. It would afford them a better standard of living with less violent crime and corruption and they will have a competitive advantage over many of our US trained students in terms of debt and necessary starting salaries. So, with this one decision that most of the AVMA leadership has seemed to condone or acts non-chalant about, our own organization has likely added to the over-supply problem, put our own graduates at a disadvantage for jobs, also placed our universities at a disadvantage as well.

    As a dues paying member of the AVMA, I would expect that the leadership would ask questions first, then make potentially profession damaging decisions only after having the support of the constituency. The fact that this is not perceived as a huge deal in the eyes of our leadership is a glaring example of the disconnect that exists between the AVMA and the members of the AVMA whose financial support allow this organization to operate.

    Greg Nutt

  10. @Lorin D. Lawrence, DVM
    Some great ideas, Lorin. I can tell you AVMA has discussed a professional marketing campaign, however, it requires an enormous commitment in dollars (several million dollars) and we would have to be able to target an audience and measure its effectiveness. That said, I like the emotional impact of your idea and the very clear theme. All these ideas are valuable and will be kept for consideration in the process.

  11. @Greg Nutt
    Let me try to address each of your questionS:

    Q. “My impression from your post is that the COE exerts it’s influence on world veterinary education; that we are considered the best at evaluating the world’s veterinary education; this consideration of being the best transfers over to AVMA members as well. Is this correct?”

    A. COE doesn’t exert its influence on world veterinary education programs, but rather will provide guidance if a school requests it on how to reach the high level of COE accreditation standards. Many countries around the world view the COE standards as the benchmark for highest quality programs, and it is an excellent accreditation process by which any school may measure its program. The standards and process are all published on line for public reference. I am not sure about your last comment in that section, other than I believe students graduating from an AVMA COE accredited veterinary medical program have one of the best DVM degrees in the world, American or otherwise.

    Q. “one of the primary ways that COE/foreign accreditation benefits the AVMA´s members is by the reciprocity agreements that we have with foreign countries. Is this correct?”

    A. The Task Force on Foreign School accreditation will probably be the best source for an answer to this question. However, IF we were to look into the future to a very global economy (not long into the future really), it is certainly beneficial to have that two way flexibility. At one point we were accrediting foreign schools, and those graduates could come here, but the reverse was not true. A US graduate from a COE accredited college here was not eligible for licensing in that country. Thanks to some significant discussions from AVMA, not only can that foreign graduate apply for a license to practice in this country (if from an AVMA COE accredited program), but one of our graduates could apply for a license in that country, without needing to go through the educational equivalence process. I was speculating that there may a day in the not so distant future when U.S. graduates may exercise that option more often than is done today.

    Q. “Are the emerging markets that these agreements open up for AVMA members the “silver lining” that you referred to in prior posts?”

    A. I do believe the future can still be very bright for veterinary medicine economically. The “silver lining” is the good that will come from an assertive economic strategy and address the challenges now so we will have a more financially viable future. I did not connect the emerging markets to the options to practice in other countries related to eligibility of a foreign school being accredited, but rather to jobs that could be created for veterinarians (anywhere), or those jobs in existence now that veterinarians may not apply for or be recruited for because we have a reputation for private practice, and not other non-traditional jobs. I believe there is a huge market out there for our services that even we don’t know about, and employers wouldn’t think of veterinarians as filling.

    Q. Finally, “the recent accreditation of foreign schools will have no net effect on the number of U.S. veterinarians. Is this correct? Does this take into account the school in Mexico? If not, why is that school not considered when we are discussing the net effect that the COE`s decisions have on the number of new veterinarians entering the workforce?

    A. Historically, graduates from foreign AVMA COE accredited schools have not flooded the US workforce. I quoted much of that information on Sept 22. Mexico is considered in those figures.

  12. Dear Dr. Carlson,
    I am gratified that you clearly see the need for a national veterinary economic strategy. I have seen a significant decrease in patient visits at my facility. I have an idea for the committee to help drive demand for our services.
    With the AVMA’s considerable resources and possible with additional assistance from our industry partners, a professional ad agency should be hired to produce 30 second spots. In these spots, the value of the companionship between people and pets would be illustrated. For example, a little girl is riding her bicycle on her street having a happy time. As she turns into her driveway, she takes a spill. Sniffling, she goes inside, gets a hug from Mom, and sits on the couch. Loving kitty or doggy hops up on the couch to cuddle with her turning her frown to a smile. Message plays: “keep EVERY member of your household healthy. Take your Kitty to the vet today!” Another example: A little leaguer is playing baseball. Mom and Dad are in the bleachers cheering their child on. Things are going well for the team, until the child gets thrown out at first resulting in a lost game. On the way home, in the back seat, adorable fluffy dog licks child’s face, bringing smiles. Message plays: “keep EVERY member of your family healthy. Take your dog to the vet today!”
    The spots should be uploaded to youtube, popular pet websites & social media, and maybe as a PSA on TV. What do you think?

  13. @René Carlson, AVMA President
    Dr.Carlson, Thank you for your response. Before commenting further, I would like to ensure that I have not misunderstood you.
    My impression from your post is that the COE exerts it’s influence on world veterinary education; that we are considered the best at evaluating the world’s veterinary education; this consideration of being the best transfers over to AVMA members as well. Is this correct?

    As I read your post, it appears that you are stating that one of the primary ways that COE/foreign accreditation benefits the AVMA´s members is by the reciprocity agreements that we have with foreign countries. Is this correct?

    Are the emerging markets that these agreements open up for AVMA members the “silver lining” that you referred to in prior posts?

    Finally, in reading your post, my understanding is that the recent accreditation of foreign schools will have no net effect on the number of U.S. veterinarians. Is this correct? Does this take into account the school in Mexico? If not, why is that school not considered when we are discussing the net effect that the COE`s decisions have on the number of new veterinarians entering the workforce?

    Thank you in advance for clarifying these concerns

    Greg Nutt

  14. The information from the veterinary school websites which contain frequent references to “AVMA studies indicate a future shortage of xxx veterinarians….” was all assembled into an excellent presentation by Dr. Pion and submitted to the AVMA at its most recent meeting for consideration. You can find it on VIN– post #45 on the thread titled “Strong action taken to strengthen veterinary economics.”
    To be fair, I think many of the schools are deliberately misrepresenting information which refers specifically to food animal and public health ONLY. They use snippets to mislead students into thinking vets are in high demand everywhere. But even in the FA area, it seems AVMA may have jumped the gun in urging congress to pass legislation for more and more food animal veterinarians when AABP says they are not needed.
    The specific information sources which point toward an oversupply of veterinarians are referenced in the same thread with more detail than I can provide. Do you think that we are NOT facing such a problem?
    Does the AVMA COE require accurate employment information on the graduates of the schools which it accredits? Do we know the employment status and salaries of graduates one year, five years, ten years after graduation? Can we examine the trends in these numbers?
    All I know is that I have had personal communication with several young veterinarians who are hard workers, willing to relocate, and can not find ANY job. I read on VIN of practices closing or vets working 80 hrs a week with minimal profit. It seems these stories are increasing in frequency. It seems prospective students deserve an honest assessment of these changes.

  15. @René Carlson, AVMA President
    Dr. Carlson,
    One thing that would help put all of us on the same page is a library of all the studies and information sources to which I’ve heard people refer. The Brakke study, megastudy, Andrus’ work out of Kansas,Foresight Report, NAVMEC draft, annual compensation/debt figures- all in one place, easily accessible for comprehension and comparison.
    Could the AVMA collect those documents, digitize them if necessary and put the collection the website?

  16. First of all, Eden is right. It is not much more costly (even less costly sometimes) to go to a foreign school than to attend many of our own US colleges as out-of-state students, which students either choose by choice for the particular program, or as the only option for them to pursue the coveted DVM degree.

    Second, can you identify the specific studies you reference when you state “they [the schools] cite numerous outdated AVMA studies as the source for these rosy predictions” just so we are all on the same page and talking about the same sources of information?

    Third, it might be helpful to contact the schools you refer to as supplying this AVMA data on the current job market because AVMA has no control over what the various colleges of veterinary medicine post on their websites. Are there specific examples? And,

    Fourth, can you clarify the “new info” to which you are referring as we intend to discuss the possibility of undertaking a workforce study but currently have no “new” information. What is the “new info”?

    I very much appreciate this discussion, and do understand the urgency of many of our economic concerns for students, recent graduates, and our profession, but we can’t fix it overnight. We must use some sound reasoning with expert outside resources for advice to make good decisions for the long term health of veterinary medicine, not knee-jerk short term decisions. Thank you for this continued input.

  17. @Ruth Beismer, DVM
    Dr. Carlson,
    Thanks again for keeping up the dialogue. I hope you find the effort as valuable as I(and apparently others) are finding it.
    Ruth, to address your statement about tuition at Ross and SGU- it is actually way less expensive to attend Ross and SGU than to attend most US schools as an out of state student.

  18. Dr. Carlson,
    In your previous post you stated theat you are concerned about class size increases in the US veterinary schools due to funding pressures. I share that concern and think it may be an even agreater risk with St George and Ross University. These are for profit schools so exorbitant tuition + more students = more profit. And now that they have the COE’s stamp of approval, they will be able to attract even more eager US students. The propaganda that ALL of these schools use on their websites and mailings promises a bright and lucrative future for their students. They cite numerous outdated AVMA studies as the source for these rosy predictions. Then they graduate students with $200,000 of debt and no job in sight. It is heartbreaking to read of young veterinarians in danger of default on their student loans and considering bankrupty. I recently received a job inquiry from a Kansas State graduate who graduated in May, has been unable to find work, and is doing relief work for $25.00 per hour!!!! I agree with Greg, the crisis is now.

    The AVMA is responsible for perpetuating the notion of “shortages” of veterinarians which more and more hard evidence disproves. What prevents AVMA from releasing this new info and correcting misperceptions immediately?

  19. @Greg Nutt
    I do understand members’ concern over this issue and would like to think AVMA is very responsive to its membership, most recently with Resolution 5 that asks us to answer your very question. As you probably know, the AVMA Executive Board has responded to the House of Delegate’s Resolution 5 by authorizing a Task Force to address this very issue of foreign school accreditation because it is of such interest to members. It will hopefully have a diverse group of members to look at all sides of the issue in an objective manner. I, on the other hand, am a bit biased as we are now considered the absolute model and respected resource for quality veterinary medical education accreditation in the world. To give that up, I believe, would cost us dearly in the long run as we become a much more global society in the very near future. Foreign students will continue to come here through the ECFVG program. In 2010, there were 2,460 US graduates, 160 COE-accredited foreign school graduates entering the US workforce, and 500 non-accredited foreign school graduates (ECFVG). This will shift in 2011 because of the accreditation of Ross and St. George’s, but only from one column to the other because most of RU and SGU graduates returned to the US already through the ECFVG program. It will balance out and have minimal effect on the overall number of DVMs annually entering the workforce from here or outside the US. One of the very first steps for a foreign school to even be considered for starting the process of seeking COE accreditation is an agreement with its particular federal government that US DVMs can also reciprocate there and be eligible for licensing to practice in their country. I believe that will become more of a benefit than it seems now as time passes and more opportunities become available for US veterinarians globally, IF we stay the best in the world. In my humble opinion, it is always better to be the most respected in the profession with the most influence, rather than struggling from behind with less influence. But your very question should be addressed this next year by the Task Force on Foreign School Accreditation. You can see the specific charge at OR on the website under ABOUT AVMA > Volunteer Opportunities > How Do I Become a Volunteer > Vacancies where it lists the three new Task Forces and the Nomination Forms. You should consider submitting a nomination form. Does this help?

  20. @Dr. Rene Carlson
    Thank you for your response. In reading your reply, I am wondering if perhaps you have some newer information than what I have access to that shows a potential increased demand for veterinary services. As I stated in my prior post, everything that I have read from the 1970’s to now shows quite the opposite. Is there some additional information out there?

    I am afraid that I don’t totally understand why it is that the COE is involved at all in accrediting foreign colleges, regardless of how hard they have worked to meet COE’s standards. As I stated in my prior post, there have been several reports in regards to the unsustainable economic model of veterinary medicine for decades, yet we have still accredited foreign schools. I ask you, with all due respect, how does that make our profession more viable for those of us in the trenches, those of us paying dues to the AVMA to represent our interests?

    That is what the AVMA is about, isn’t it. I mean, with no dues paying members, the AVMA would cease to exist, correct?

  21. Thank you for you comments. Greg, I agree with you. The crisis is more urgent than looming, however, there is still time to improve the economic situation if we actually address it aggressively and in a planned and comprehensive manner, rather than talking about it for the last three decades as you state. It seems it is human nature to be more crisis driven than vision driven. However, I disagree with you about a pessimistic future (unless we do nothing about it). I do believe there are many untapped markets out there. Many animals of all kinds are getting very little, if any, veterinary medical care. That can be improved, but we need the new Economic Division to be able to actually monitor various trends and metrics as time goes on. In addition, I believe there is tremendous potential for a job market in areas not even considered by veterinarians, especially in the big picture food production arena. We need to decide where veterinarians should be involved in the next 10-20 years and make sure we are prepared for those positions and are assertive in pursuing them.

    As to your comments about St. George’s University being accredited, SGU has worked very hard for years to meet the COE standards, long before any concern about the workforce supply. Their student body is 85% Americans who were already in the job market coming back home to the United States. I would be more concerned with increasing class sizes in our own US schools given the significant decreased funding of higher education across the board. We are hoping to engage the educational system in our national economic strategy as well, and hoping that discussion is geared toward maintaining the quality and improving the viability of our educational models as well as matching workforce supply with demand. You are right, there is a lot of work to do, and it must be dealt with now for a brighter future. The world would be a very different place without the work of veterinarians! Thank you for your comments.

  22. Dr. Carlson,

    I would like to thank you for taking the time to keep this avenue of communication open between the AVMA and it’s members. If I may, I would like to take a few moments and express some of the concerns that I have as a practicing veterinarian and 15 year AVMA member.

    I am encouraged by the discussions regarding the economics of our profession and concur that there is much “doom and gloom” out there. I do not share your opinion that the crisis is on the horizon, however. The crisis is here. Now! And it has been at least 35 years in the making. From the Arthur Little study of 1978, the AVMA manpower study in 1985, the information published by Getz in 1990, to the AVMA/KPMG megastudy, the body of research has shown over and over again that the economic health of our profession was not sustainable. We chose to make no major changes based on the published information and now we have a huge mountain to climb.

    I am unable to share your enthusiasm regarding silver linings and enormous future markets, as I know of no research available that gives even a hint of this. On the contrary, the Bayer study actually shows the opposite.

    My concern is that at the same time you are updating AVMA members on the high priority that the AVMA is placing on economics, there is another headline that states that the COE/AVMA has just accredited another foreign veterinary school!

    Those two headlines seem contradictory to me and I cannot see how increasing our workforce by even one veterinarian can/will improve the economic viability of our profession. Am I missing something?

    Greg Nutt

  23. Dr. Carlson, What an enormous breath of fresh air it is to finally hear a comitment to action on these issues. THANK YOU for having the strength of character and leadership to lead our profession in a new direction. I will be following developments closely and pulling for your success.