Society for Veterinary Medical Ethics Honors Lifetime Achiever and International Student

February 21, 2018
Maureen McKinney

At its annual membership meeting this month, the Society for Veterinary Medical Ethics awarded 2 prestigious prizes and announced its new board of directors.

Dr. Bill Folger, SVME immediate past president, presents Dr. Al Dorn with the SVME Shomer Award.

Founded in 1994, the Society for Veterinary Medical Ethics (SVME) aims to “promote discussion and debate about ethical issues arising in and relevant to the veterinary profession.” Two prestigious awards were presented at the group’s annual meeting early this month, and the 2018 SVME officials were announced.

Lifetime Achievement

In honor of his exceptional lifetime contributions to the veterinary profession in the fields of ethics education and training in professionalism, the Shomer Award in Veterinary Ethics was presented to Albert Dorn, DVM, DACVS, professor emeritus at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville.

As a cofounder of SVME, Dr. Dorn helped form the group’s original constitution and bylaws and served on the association’s Program Committee. He also served as section manager for personal and professional development for the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) annual conference and helped manage the conference’s ethics program. In addition, he served on the AVMA Judicial Council and was instrumental in an early revision of the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics. At the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Dorn chaired the Curriculum Committee and was a member of the university’s campus-wide task force on ethics.

Dr. Dorn reported to American Veterinarian® that he was honored to receive the award. “It means a great deal to me since Dr. Bob Shomer was a personal friend of mine, and I truly valued and respected his commitment and dedication to veterinary ethical and value issues,” he said. “We worked together to initiate and develop the SVME, and this organization continues to provide a forum to communicate and educate the entire veterinary profession on ethical and value issues.”

The Student Perspective

The SVME annual Alice Villalobos Student Ethics Award, sponsored by the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition (a division of Mars Petcare), was given to Adeyemi Olayide Abraham from the University of Ilorn in Ilorn, Nigeria. The essay, written on the assigned topic of burnout, compassion fatigue, and the future of the veterinary profession, discussed how the highly emotional and physically intense work that veterinarians perform often comes at a personal and professional cost and evaluated what will happen to the profession if its members don’t recognize and seek treatment for ethical and compassion fatigue.

Appreciative of the SVME for offering “such a wonderful platform that critically engages students worldwide in the discussion and debate of varying contemporary veterinary ethical issues,” Abraham contributed his essay because he wants to engage with the global community in a discourse about issues relevant to veterinary professionals, animal care, and welfare—particularly those that straddle geographic boundaries.

“Considering how much stress and burnout my colleagues and I experience year in and out in vet school here in Nigeria, I saw this platform as an effective opportunity to increase my understanding of this rising concern and also make a significant contribution,” he said.

The Future

Officials for SVME for 2018 were announced at the meeting as well and include:

  • Don DeForge, VMD, FAVD, President
  • Marthina Greer, DVM, Secretary and President-Elect
  • John Wright, DVM, Treasurer
  • Lynn Bahr, DVM, Parliamentarian
  • Bill Folger, DVM, MS, ABVP (Feline Practice), Past President