Stop looking to the status quo to solve the profession's problems.
In her straightforward letter in the January 2015 issue, Dr. Sandra Wing succinctly stated the serious problems faced in private veterinary practice, and she did it in four simple paragraphs without a national association creating a committee with a budget of $10,000. In the same issue Suzanne Parsel, DVM, MBA, outlined an approach to rethinking today's outmoded professional model (“The circle of life-and professional identity”). Kudos to both. Here are a few additional comments.
> Regarding veterinarians' role in public health: Instead of analyzing the same old issues, why have the AAVMC, AVMA, AAHA and One Health Initiative not worked with the Department of Education, congressional leaders and local, state and federal governments to establish criteria whereby every health agency in the country has an obligatory veterinary component? And why have veterinary colleges not created greater incentives toward this goal?
> Although educating veterinarians in a distributive practice manner is cost-effective, it does not necessarily provide the in-depth experiences and interactions available at our primary research universities or at colleges that have a broad array both of board-certified specialists and scientific disciplines-computer science, engineering, public health, chemistry, astrophysics and so on. This trend restricts opportunities for veterinarians to enter into unique fields of endeavor.
> Whether the AVMA Council on Education should be the accrediting body for the veterinary profession remains to be determined by the U.S. Department of Education. Regardless of whether it continues or a new body replaces it, one thing should be clear: Before any university is allowed to create a new veterinary educational plant by spending taxpayer dollars, the need for same must be approved by the Department of Education and not by senators and representatives who have biased views. Individuals who want to generate income for their universities' general funds and those who are insulted that their child doesn't qualify for admission will say this infringes on their freedoms. I would prefer to think that it represents responsible decision-making. Society's needs should prevail over individual or corporate desires.
Our profession needs vision and people with business acumen who can think out of the box and refuse to accept the status quo. The leaders of the veterinary profession must not let those who protect public health turf-restricting it to MDs, human nurses and so on-ignore the fact that public health is as much the domain of the veterinary profession as their own. There are probably no better-trained and capable health experts than veterinary (comparative) pathologists.
Whether a way can be found to get clients in the door to check on the health of their pets without the incentive of unneeded annual vaccinations remains to be seen. The ball really is in our court. Can we compete? Are we tough enough? I suspect that some corporate executives might be able to find a way. Obviously, the profession alone has had a difficult time with this.
As a young undergrad at the University of Connecticut in the '60s I took a simple course-Animal Diseases 241- taught by Drs. Svend Nielsen and Charlie Helmboldt. Nielsen taught me respect for pathology and the educational process enhanced by 22 veterinarians working on their MS and PhDs in pathology using NIH grants. Grand rounds with 22 developing pathologists, many of whom became highly respected, made me think and justify my answers more than I thought humanly possible. We need that type of vision to return to our profession.
Charles A. Cohen, DVM
Marina Del Rey, California