Current focus of veterinary medical profession leaves research, food security, public health needs underserved

May 30, 2012

WASHINGTON -- Without immediate action, a new National Research Council report warns, the academic veterinary community could fail to prepare the next generation of veterinarians for faculty teaching and research positions as well as for jobs in state diagnostic laboratories, federal research and regulatory agencies, and the pharmaceutical and biologics industry. Although the supply of veterinarians is growing, more than half of veterinary students seek training in companion animal or pet medicine. In addition, increasing debt from veterinary education may inhibit graduates from pursuing Ph.D. training that would prepare them for academic careers, key jobs in the public sector, and some positions in industry.

Cost-cutting measures at universities have adversely affected the ability of colleges and schools of veterinary medicine to hire faculty in less popular fields of veterinary medicine and to support graduate research training. A potential shortage of professionals with training beyond a Doctor of Science in Veterinary Medicine could impact the supply of veterinarians to fill jobs overseeing and enforcing food safety and animal health standards, conducting research in human drug development and advances in pet health, and participating in wildlife and ecosystem management, infectious disease control, biosecurity, and agro-terrorism prevention.

"Companion animal medicine and its growing number of specialties that improve the health and lives of pets has been a success story, but it dominates veterinary schools' curriculum and resources, sometimes to the detriment of equally critical fields," said Alan Kelly, emeritus professor of pathology and pathobiology at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania and chair of the committee that wrote the report. "We must ensure that schools train qualified veterinarians in sync with the diverse and growing array of societal needs."

For example, food-animal production is changing dramatically in the U.S. and abroad. Large U.S. producers need veterinary services to focus on "herd health" while small producers, who have difficulty collectively supporting a full-time veterinarian, need primary animal care. Having fewer veterinarians in rural areas raises concerns about the level of animal disease surveillance in the field, which is critical to the prompt detection of outbreaks with potentially massive economic consequences.

In developing countries, where meat demand is growing, crowding animals in hot, humid conditions places the health of animals, humans, and ecosystems at risk and is unsustainable. "The fact that 60 percent of all infectious diseases in humans are of animal origin and 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases in the last decade arose from animals underscores the importance of maintaining expertise in other areas of veterinary medicine," explained Kelly.

Addressing these challenges depends on the profession's commitment to promote and develop diverse career paths in veterinary medicine and on the efficient delivery of veterinary services, which in some cases may mean using veterinary technicians to extend the field's reach. The report's recommendations center on partnerships among professional veterinary organizations, academia, industry, and government. These groups could form a national consortium or committee to focus on the economic sustainability of the profession in all sectors of service, education, and research, and develop a national veterinary curriculum that could be delivered electronically or through alternative measures.

Veterinary medical organizations and the deans of veterinary colleges could work to increase the profession's visibility, standing, and potential to address global food security, says the report. Establishing a health-oriented think tank with the goal of advancing sustainable food-animal husbandry practices, welfare policies, ecosystem health standards, and the capacity of the veterinary profession in the developing world is important and could help future generations of veterinarians collaborate across professions, disciplines, and cultures. A part of this body could also evaluate the competencies required of U.S. veterinary graduates to address the global challenges of food and water safety and security, the impact of urbanization on food supply systems, and the health of wildlife and ecosystems.
-end-
The study was sponsored by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal Hospital Association, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, and Bayer Animal Health Inc. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies. They are independent, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under an 1863 congressional charter. Panel members, who serve pro bono as volunteers, are chosen by the Academies for each study based on their expertise and experience and must satisfy the Academies' conflict-of-interest standards. The resulting consensus reports undergo external peer review before completion. For more information, visit http://national-academies.org/studycommitteprocess.pdf. A panel roster follows.

Contacts:
Jennifer Walsh, Media Relations Officer
Lorin Hancock, Media Relations Officer
Shaquanna Shields, Media Relations Assistant
Office of News and Public Information
202-334-2138; e-mail news@nas.edu

Pre-publication copies of Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at http://www.nap.edu. Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above).

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
Division on Earth and Life Studies
Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources
and
Division on Policy and Global Affairs
Board on Higher Education and Workforce

Committee to Assess the Current and Future Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine

Alan M. Kelly (chair)
Professor of Pathology and Pathobiology and
Dean Emeritus
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
Kennett Square

Sheila W. Allen
Dean
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Georgia
Athens

Val R. Beasley
Professor Emeritus of Comparative Biosciences
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign

Bonnie Buntain
Assistant Dean of Government and
International Relations;
Professor
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine; and
Joint Appointment
Faculty of Medicine
University of Calgary
Alberta, Canada

Henry E. Childers
Director
Cranston Animal Hospital
Cranston, R.I.

Gary Cockerell
Consultant
Cockerell Alliances
Grand Junction, Colo.

Harold Davis
Vice President of Pre-Clinical Safety
Amgen Inc. (retired)
Covington, Ga.

Malcolm Getz
Associate Professor of Economics
Department of Economics
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, Tenn.

Tracey S. McNamara
Professor of Pathology
College of Veterinary Medicine
Western University of Health Sciences
Pomona, Calif.

Gay Y. Miller
Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology and
Preventive Medicine
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign

Bennie I. Osburn
Dean Emeritus
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California
Davis

Mark V. Pauly*
Bendheim Professor
Health Care Management Department
The Wharton School
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia

Fred W. Quimby
Associate Vice President and Senior Director
Laboratory Animal Research Center
Rockefeller University (retired)
New York City

Stephen F. Sutherland
Senior Director of U.S. Regulatory Affairs
Pfizer Animal Health
Kalamazoo, Mich.

STAFF

James Voytuk
Study Director (retired)

Robin Schoen
Board Director

* Member, Institute of Medicine

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Related Infectious Diseases Articles from Brightsurf:

Understanding the spread of infectious diseases
Physicists at M√ľnster University (Germany) have shown in model simulations that the COVID-19 infection rates decrease significantly through social distancing.

Forecasting elections with a model of infectious diseases
Election forecasting is an innately challenging endeavor, with results that can be difficult to interpret and may leave many questions unanswered after close races unfold.

COVID-19 a reminder of the challenge of emerging infectious diseases
The emergence and rapid increase in cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus, pose complex challenges to the global public health, research and medical communities, write federal scientists from NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Certain antidepressants could provide treatment for multiple infectious diseases
Some antidepressants could potentially be used to treat a wide range of diseases caused by bacteria living within cells, according to work by researchers in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and collaborators at other institutions.

Opioid epidemic is increasing rates of some infectious diseases
The US faces a public health crisis as the opioid epidemic fuels growing rates of certain infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, heart infections, and skin and soft tissue infections.

Infectious diseases could be diagnosed with smartphones in sub-Saharan Africa
A new Imperial-led review has outlined how health workers could use existing phones to predict and curb the spread of infectious diseases.

The Lancet Infectious Diseases: Experts warn of a surge in vector-borne diseases as humanitarian crisis in Venezuela worsens
The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Venezuela is accelerating the re-emergence of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, Chagas disease, dengue, and Zika virus, and threatens to jeopardize public health gains in the country over the past two decades, warn leading public health experts.

Glow-in-the-dark paper as a rapid test for infectious diseases
Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology (The Netherlands) and Keio University (Japan) present a practicable and reliable way to test for infectious diseases.

Math shows how human behavior spreads infectious diseases
Mathematics can help public health workers better understand and influence human behaviors that lead to the spread of infectious disease, according to a study from the University of Waterloo.

Many Americans say infectious and emerging diseases in other countries will threaten the US
An overwhelming majority of Americans (95%) think infectious and emerging diseases facing other countries will pose a 'major' or 'minor' threat to the U.S. in the next few years, but more than half (61%) say they are confident the federal government can prevent a major infectious disease outbreak in the US, according to a new national public opinion survey commissioned by Research!America and the American Society for Microbiology.

Read More: Infectious Diseases News and Infectious Diseases Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.