Transcript of COE’s listening session at AVMA Convention available

The transcript from the AVMA Council on Education (COE) listening session held during the AVMA Convention is now available.

The transcripts from the NAVC, WVC and SAVMA listening sessions also are available. Additional posts regarding the COE and accreditation can be found on this blog in the Education and Student Matters category.

If you’d like to receive more information and updates from the COE, please sign up for the COE Standard email newsletter (available to AVMA members only). The AVMA also shares COE Standard content and accreditation updates regularly on the AVMA@Work blog. We will keep you informed of the progress and status of the COE’s response and recognition through these channels.

5 thoughts on “Transcript of COE’s listening session at AVMA Convention available

  1. What seems to be missing from all of the above is a working BUSINESS model for veterinarians in the Business of delivering healthcare.

    Basic needs not truly addresses are:
    Purchase power through collective strength with manufacturers and distributors. Let them come to us with a discount instead of raising prices 300% without notice. We spend a vast amount of capital collectively, why not take advantage of this power.

    Collective legal assistance to fight unethical and unscrupulous public websites like Yelp. This is actually a class acti9on issue and should be address accordingly by all DVMs. California has already instituted this to help interpret labor law, OSHA regs and liability issues, among other complex issues, at no charge to practitioners.

    Create an environment of cooperation instead of petty competition. Dentists went through the same challenges in the 1980s and survived by working for common survival. Hating your colleague down the block because they “stole” a client ten years ago hardly constitutes professional behavior. If you like 30% profit better than 10% profit, maybe you could learn to live with your fellow vets in harmony without. having to take long showers together. Business is a series of compromises. This is a nicer one to consider than circling the drain side-by-side.

    Counteract the decrease in client visits with a NATIONAL ad campaign. Look what dentists and drug companies have accomplished. Brand recognition and the power of suggestion on public media is very persuasive. Tghis can only happen as a total group decision.

    Improve CE requirements. Paying for admission to a conference and then play 5 days of golf might be entertaining, but doesn’t do much for your next patient. Veterinarians are still functioning in the Dark Ages in keeping up on quantifiable, evidence-based progressive medical advancements. Thi8s might be sobering for those out 25-50 years, but could be easily phased in over a number of years. Frankly, the colleagues that I saw starting out with an inferno in their bellies are now more often like a can of Sterno. The excuses are numerous, but do not benefit any client or patient. Would you accept the same performance from your family MD, surgeon or
    ophthalmologist? This is a tough one to sell, but given the 1:1 ratio of applicants to seats applying to vet school, we are in for a rough landing when these students constitute the bulk of our profession.

    Drastic times demand surgical excision of waste, defining the depth and nature of a lack of action and a quantifiable means of measuring progress. Talk is cheap and more talk without leadership will end up for all of us working for cheap. Crisis can bring out the best in us or devolve into apathy. We are historically recognized as the most motivated, creative, self-driven and independent group of college grads in America. Giving up was never on my CV. Did you ever add it to yours?

  2. Can anyone up the AVMA food chain tell me what was learned during the listening session?

  3. A listening session is all well and good if one decides to actually listen to those who take the time to discuss their concerns.

    My question to the AVMA, and in particular the executive board, is this “What did you learn from this”?.

  4. This was the unedited address:

    AVMA-COE Listening Session

    Several years ago on a mission trip in Zihuatanejo, Mexico the excellent veterinarian from Mexico City doing surgery next to me asked me why the AVMA accredited UNAM. He was surprised the AVMA did not accredit one of the better schools in Mexico. I did not know the answer so when I got back to Texas I called Chris Copeland the Executive Director of the Texas VMA and asked him. He said he did not know, nor did anyone else in Texas. He added that the TVMA members were not happy with the decision and the Texas delegates to the AVMA House of Delegates were introducing a motion to create a task force to examine foreign school accreditation.
    Thus began my “listening sessions” of the AVMA-COE. The first stop was AVMA President Dr. Rene Carlson’s remarks in an interview in JAVMA. Paraphrasing, Dr. Carlson said that critics of the COE “just did not have the information or understand the process.” I found her remarks both arrogant and condescending especially considering her audience was a group of the smartest and best educated people in America. I wondered what it was she could possibly understand that we could not? And she missed the point entirely: it wasn’t the process, it was the product we were angry about.
    The next stop on my listening tour was reviewing the published report of the Task Force on Foreign Veterinary School Accreditation. I learned that the AVMA attorney had straight-jacketed the Task Force before it got started by instructing them what they were not allowed to discuss. I further learned that the first draft of the report was written by the AVMA staff, not the task force members. The final report represented a tug-of-war between what the Task Force wanted included in the report the AVMA staff had written.
    Third stop on my tour was the AVMA’s blindly arrogant description of the AVMA standard as The Gold Standard of veterinary accreditation, which Ralph Brinster, Bill Hardy, Robert Marshak, and Robert Phemister correctly described as self-aggrandizement. With the dumbing-down of the standards and the rapid progression of the 2-year trade school educational process becoming widespread these “Gold Standards” have brought about, it’s astonishing anyone could think of these as the Gold Standard in veterinary education or accreditation. The failure of strict oversight of off-campus sites has rendered the American version of distributive education a two year trade school program. Professor Lazlo Fodor of the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education disagrees that any system could be considered a gold standard. (1) Foreign veterinary schools are interested in accreditation for only 1 reason- fill their classes and get the US-backed student loan money. It’s embarrassing how easily the AVMA ego is stroked in order to get one thing:
    It’s always about the money.
    Can the AVMA and COE once and for all abandon the arrogant, condescending theory that the AVMA standards are the GOLD STANDARD?
    On the next stop of my tour I asked my colleagues why they continued their membership in the AVMA, and I uniformly received the same answer: liability insurance. In just 2 days of research, I discovered there are 9 nationwide insurance companies that provide professional liability, business liability, and workman’s comp insurance products to veterinarians at competitive rates, and in many cases better coverage than the AVMA. Farmer’s, Liberty Mutual, Tex-Cap Concord, Veterinary Defence Association, Vetinsure, and Wells Fargo offer all of the insurance products the AVMA offers at excellent rates and coverage(2). Other than insurance and a journal recently politicized by Editor Kurt Matushek (3), what exactly does the AVMA offer the members?
    Fifth stop on my “listening tour” was an examination of the COE roster. Two-thirds (12) of the COE members are academics and just 1/3(5) are practitioners. How is that possible when academics make up < 10% of our profession, and practitioners 90%? Statistically there should be 1 or 2 academics, and 15 practitioners. Furthermore, the female members of the COE roster constitute 25% of the members, and yet make up 55% of our profession. Finally, there is a single female small animal practitioner on the COE to represent one half of our profession. In spite of Matushek’s weird ramble in JAVMA in which he tried to prove there is not a conflict of interest(and he completely misses the point, it is UNIVERSALLY perceived as a conflict of interest, so it is) his intellectual argument reminded me of the President Clinton rebuttal; “That depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is.” There is no better proof of an inherent conflict of interest in the COE than its membership.
    Last stop on my tour. Dr. Clark Fobian opined (again I am paraphrasing) that the AVMA membership is “like our clients” and that we should trust the AVMA to make the right decision. In spite of the sneering, mocking derision many of us have received by the AVMA and designating this opposition as a “campaign” I think you are missing what is going on here: so many of us have come forward, from all parts of our profession, we are obviously not a campaign, we are a movement. The fact is that thousands of us no longer trust the AVMA, and our opposition is not going to cease and is growing. The COE is no longer going to get a 5 year pass from the NACIQI committee of the UDSE. We will be at the hearing year after year. Unlike some of my colleagues, I am convinced that the AVMA has no intention of ever releasing control of the COE, even if it harms the long-term interests of the AVMA as an institution or the veterinary profession as a whole. We are not going to recommend changes in the existing structure. We are going to ask NACIQI and the USDE to suspend recognition of the AVMA as the agency for the COE.
    In 1960, 75% of the physicians in the US were members of the AMA. In 2012, excluding students and residents, the membership has fallen to 15%. Starting in the 1970s the AMA leadership made decisions not only not supported but even openly opposed by the membership. The AMA leadership refused to recognize the anger and disenchantment of the members. If the AVMA chooses against allowing the COE to become independent and make the right decision to focus on being a member-oriented organization, the current AVMA leaders are going to preside over the largest exodus of members in the history of the AVMA. As the student applicant to seat ratio continues to fall toward a 1:1 ratio, the now easily accredited and loosely supervised distributive model schools that are in the education business for profit will have a distinct survival advantage. The new graduates saddled with enormous debt and flat salaries, coupled with limited funds in their CE allowance will not automatically join the AVMA since it offers very little and better insurance products are widely available.
    Finally, Dr. Pascoe recently said in the journal that an independent COE would increase the cost of accreditation. Office space, staff, an attorney representing only the interests of the COE, insurance, meeting costs, etc- all of this would cost less than the annual operating budget of my practice. If an independent COE is incapable of structuring a budget and allocating a fee structure for the accredited schools independent of the AVMA and AAVMC, then the AVMA is truly in trouble. Enacting annual dues to remain accredited by the existing veterinary schools, combined with significantly increased site visit fees would easily pay for all the costs incurred to operate the COE independently. The choice to remain an accredited institution would be determined by the individual educational institutions.
    See you at NACIQI in Washington!

    W.R. Folger BA, DVM, MS, ABVP (Feline)
    Houston, TX

    1. Fiala, J. Overseas opinion dulls repute of AVMA accreditation as ‘gold standard’
    2. Folger, W. Insurance Products for Veterinarians

    3. Matushek, K. Conflicted by conflicts of interest; JAVMA, Vol 246 (6) March 15. 2015 p 601-602

  5. This was part of my discussion not included:

    On the next stop of my tour I asked my colleagues why they continued their membership in the AVMA, and I uniformly received the same answer: liability insurance. In just 2 days of research, I discovered there are 9 nationwide insurance companies that provide professional liability, business liability, and workman’s comp insurance products to veterinarians at competitive rates, and in many cases better coverage than the AVMA. Farmer’s, Liberty Mutual, Tex-Cap Concord, Veterinary Defence Association, Vetinsure, and Wells Fargo offer all of the insurance products the AVMA offers at excellent rates and coverage(2