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Ladies and gentlemen, Mike Obenski has left the building
I cant fill his giant shoes, but I will try to keep you informed about important issues facing the veterinary profession.
I know that many of you are going to throw this magazine across the room as soon as you open it and find that you favorite columnist is no longer on this page, which he's occupied for nearly 40 years. I know you're going to do this because that's what I would do in your place.
When I first took the helm of dvm360 magazine, I can't count the number of times I had a conversation that went something like this:
Reader: “You work for dvm360? I love that magazine!”
Me: “That's great to hear! What is it that you like about it?” [Preparing self to hear glowing comments about sharp news coverage, insightful commentary and so on.]
Reader: “It's that guy in the front, that-oh, what's his name ... Obenski. Man, he's great. He's hilarious!”
And I have to say I agree. Never have I worked with a writer with a finer wit or a sharper satirical instinct, and it was all enhanced by the brilliant illustrations of Ryan Ostrander. In fact, I think the “Where did I go wrong?” column was a form of therapy for the veterinary profession. Obenski took the client foibles you encounter every day-the ones that make you want to tear your hair out, scream till you're hoarse and/or curl up in a fetal position-and turned them into laughter. So the next time a client pulled a stunt that might ordinarily send you into a homicidal rage, you could just chuckle and think about how this was just like that last Obenski column you read.
Sadly, in case you missed it, Obenski, has decided to retire. I know I will miss him, and I'm sure you will too. I would like to thank him here for his many faithful years and every single one of his 431 columns.
Education issues are hot!
On a more serious note, at the very moment I'm writing this on Dec. 11, 2014, a federal agency called the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) is hearing testimony on whether the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Education (COE) should itself be reaccredited as the accreditor of veterinary medical colleges.
Basically, the U.S. Department of Education checks in every few years to make sure those organizations responsible for maintaining appropriate standards in various areas of higher education are doing an adequate job. The NACIQI hearings are designed to hear from various stakeholders, ferret out any problems and advise the Department of Education on whether the accreditors' accreditation should be renewed.
This has been a contentious issue in veterinary medicine in the last couple of years. A contingent of influential veterinarians maintains that the COE has relaxed its standards and applied them inconsistently to new veterinary schools applying for accreditation, especially schools beyond U.S. borders. They've been especially critical of the distributive model of clinical training, in which students learn hands-on skills in private practices rather than a teaching hospital.
These veterinarians are calling for a new or reimagined accrediting body that is independent of the AVMA, which they fear may be interfering in the process for political reasons rather than the best interests of the profession. They have targeted this NACIQI hearing as an opportunity to express their lack of confidence in the COE as it exists today.
Defenders of the the current process believe these critics are motivated by a desire to stanch the flood of new grads entering the market. In light of this, the AVMA insists that the COE cannot make accrediting decisions based on market forces and must simply decide whether a school is capable of graduating competent veterinary practitioners. And based on graduating students' ability to pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination, they say, they're doing exactly that.
The debate has caught the attention of the Department of Education, which recently issued a staff analysis recommending that the COE be granted just six months of continued accreditation while it figures out how to address the issues the critics have raised.
By the time you're reading this, an article will be available online. So head to dvm360.com/COEhearing to get up to date. And if you decided to pick the magazine back up and read to the end of this column-even though I'm not Obenski-I sincerely thank you.