Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Every seven years, colleges of veterinary medicine in the United States undergo a scrupulous review by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education. This is done in order to determine whether or not the institutions meet certain standards of quality and performance associated with their teaching, service and research programs.
This is especially important during this era of dynamic change; as many of you know, we are operating our colleges during a time when society requires so much from a profession that continues to wrestle with serious economic issues.
The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine has recently participated in this year-long accreditation process, and I am pleased to announce that our college has been awarded full accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education (AVMA-COE) for a seven-year period.
The accreditation process involves a very comprehensive and detailed examination of a college’s programs and aspirations. A comprehensive self-study is conducted by the institution in close association with the AVMA-COE, and then the accreditation team conducts an extensive site visit in which they rigorously inspect and evaluate the physical plant and facilities, budgets, operations, and policies; and they conduct extensive interviews with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and university administrators in order to ascertain their perspectives on the strengths and weaknesses of the college’s programs.
Our accreditation report was overwhelmingly positive. While the AVMA-COE understands the challenges we face with respect to the necessary expansion of our physical plant, they were very impressed with our college and their assessment included several references to the excellence of our students and faculty. They also pointed out that our faculty office situation needs urgent improvement.
This affirmation of the quality of our college’s programs in learning, discovery and engagement is a direct result of the talent and dedication that our employees and our students bring to our college every day. I wish to publicly extend my appreciation, my thanks, and my congratulations to our faculty, staff, students and alumni for the role they have played in helping our college achieve this important distinction.
Gerhardt G. Schurig
In This Issue...
Veterinary Business Management Association to Present “Debt/Profitability Elephant” Program
Innovative Flooring System Installed in Large Animal Hospital
Dr. Temple Grandin, Celebrated Expert in Autism and Animal Behavior, Visits College
Horse Training for First Responders Presented by Virginia Tech Faculty
Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine Presents SAVMA Symposium
VMRCVM, EMC to Observe “Day of Remembrance” April 16
Veterinary Medicine Students to Present Community “Dogwash”
Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine to Present Annual Open House
VMRCVM Launches new Website
VMRCVM Offers Research Opportunities, Clinical Service for Camelids
Spiraling veterinary student debt and the lack of a sustainable and profitable business model for many private practices in the modern business environment threaten the future growth and stability of the veterinary profession.
As part of a national effort to address this problem, student members of the VMRCVM’s chapter of the Veterinary Business Management Association (VBMA) will present “Building a Healthy Financial Future for the Veterinary Profession” on Monday, March 31 at 5 p.m. in the College Center.
The average educational debt for new veterinarians is estimated at more than $100,000 and can be as much as $165,000 to $220,000 if the student attends a state-run institution as a non-resident. Beginning salaries for new practitioners average $60,000.
The rising educational debt to salary ratio is considered one of the most serious issues facing the long term stability and growth of the veterinary profession and a number of studies and programs have been devised to examine the problem and consider solutions, according to Dr. Grant Turnwald, associate dean for academic affairs.
Euphemistically entitled “Laying our Hands on the Elephant” because of the tendency for organizations and institutions to recognize yet ignore the “elephant in the room” – or major obstacle or challenge, the event will bring together DVM students, faculty members, veterinary practitioners and others in a productive open forum, problem-solving format known as “World Café.”
The meeting will be facilitated by Dr. Carol Mase, a biologist, veterinarian, educator, and coach-consultant who has practiced veterinary medicine, conducted research fellowships in cellular communication, and patented the first anabolic treatment for human osteoporosis. Following 10 years working as a pharmaceutical executive in global marketing, strategic planning and organizational change, Mase formed Cairn Consulting and now specializes in organizational consulting and executive coaching.
Mase also facilitated a major meeting on this topic that was held in January in conjunction with the North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando. Organized by the National VBMA, the meeting featured about 250 leaders in veterinary academia, industry, and lending organizations and about 100 student leaders from the VBMA.
Some of the salient concepts that emerged from that meeting were that many in the profession remain unaware of the magnitude of the problem; recent graduates lack core competencies in communication, leadership and other areas which may be affecting their performance and confidence; recent graduates are not familiar with components of profitability and business aspects of practice management; and Veterinary Teaching Hospitals need to remain focused on producing well-rounded veterinarians prepared for primary care in private practice.
“World Café” is a group problem-solving technique that encourages participants to move from group to group in an open format that encourages the creation and cross-pollination of ideas. The process is noted for evoking solutions that represent the collective intelligence of a group.
The VMRCVM is believed to be only the second of the nation’s colleges of veterinary medicine to convene a “summit” on what is being termed the “Debt/Profitability Elephant” by organizations in the profession that are actively working on the problem, according to Heather Groch, president of the VMRCVM’s VBMA chapter.
The VMRCVM’s “Elephant in the Room” event will focus on several key areas, according to Groch. These include increasing the perceived value of the veterinary profession, both internally and externally; how new graduates can make veterinary practices more profitable; increasing student competence in the non-technical skill areas required for success in the profession; and the implications and rationale for post-graduate DVM internships.
National meetings on the topic were held at the annual meeting of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) in Tampa, Florida on March 27-30 and are also scheduled for the American Veterinary Medical Association’s annual convention in New Orleans, Louisiana to be held July 19-22.
An innovative new flooring system has been installed in the Harry T. Peters, Jr. Large Animal Hospital in an effort to promote increased biosecurity, safety and efficiency.
The royal-blue colored multi-layered flooring system will be safer for horses and people, promote more efficient drainage, and be easier to clean, according to Hospital Administrator Dr. Rick Hiller.
“This new floor is supposed to be very equine friendly and very people friendly,” said Hiller, adding that it is a softer floor, it is textured to promote better traction, and it is chemical resistant.
The new flooring system has actually elevated the floor about a half-inch, according to Hiller, which promotes better drainage and is easier for people and large animals to walk on.
First, a fiber-mesh layer of sub-flooring comprised of recycled tires was installed in order to elevate the floor and add softness and spring. Then a rubberized compound was poured in place over the substrate and cured.
The project involved replacing about 15,000 square feet of flooring surface and was conducted in two phases, which meant the work could be accomplished without shutting down the hospital.
Hiller said the project required special scheduling and planning and he commended the faculty, staff, and students for their cooperation and assistance during the construction project.
“I would especially like to commend Large Animal Supervisor Becky Wade for her leadership on this project,” said Hiller. “She has put an extraordinary amount of effort into this.”
The former floor was installed following a salmonella outbreak that occurred in 2001. That cement-urethane polymer flooring system was much harder than the new floor. Additionally, some drainage issues were associated with the former floor, causing serious problems in an environment that is so frequently cleaned as part of the college’s biosecurity protocols.
Over time, the gritty particles added to the surface had worn away, making the floor too slippery. The new, softer floor is believed to be safer for equine patients to walk on, thereby reducing incidents where an animal might slip, fall and injure itself or the personnel working with the animal.
As part of the project, doors, fire-doors and related hardware that have been decayed as a result of chronic exposure to moisture and cleaning chemicals are also being replaced, Hiller said.
Hiller said the new flooring system will likely create future savings in labor and materials cost as well, since the softer floor negates the need for special rubberized mats in patient stalls and other work processes.
Approximately 150 faculty, staff, and students recently gathered to hear Dr. Temple Grandin, an expert in autism and animal behavior, present a seminar entitled, "Animals in Translation: Understanding animal behavior through the mind of a visual thinker," in the College Commons. The seminar, and her most recent book of the same name, posits animals have both minds and emotions, which can be intuited by human autistic cognitive-perception.
Grandin, who is autistic, has dedicated her life to improving the quality of life for food animals around the world by designing humane livestock handling facilities. In North America, almost half of all cattle are handled in a center track restrainer system she designed for meat plants. Curved chute and race systems she has designed for cattle and her writings on the flight zone and other principles of grazing animal behavior have helped many people to reduce stress on livestock during handling.
Through Grandin Livestock Systems, she works with the country's fast food purveyors-McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wendy’s, and Burger King to monitor the conditions of their animal facilities worldwide.
“Grandin is one of the most celebrated and effective animal advocates on the planet,” said Dr.David Hodgson, head of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (DLACS) which helped sponsor Grandin’s visit as part of the 2007-2008 Developmental Science Colloquium Series. “She has revolutionized animal movement systems and spearheaded reform in the quality of life and humane slaughter practices for production animals in America and indeed the world over.”
Grandin obtained her B.A. at Franklin Pierce College and her M.S. in animal science at Arizona State University. She received her Ph.D. in animal science from the University of Illinois in 1989. She is currently a professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University where she teaches courses on livestock behavior and facility design and consults with the livestock industry on facility design, livestock handling, and animal welfare.
She has appeared on television shows such as 20/20, 48 Hours, CNN Larry King Live, PrimeTime Live, the Today Show, and many shows in other countries. She has been featured in People Magazine, the New York Times, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, Time Magazine, the New York Times book review, and Discover magazine.
She has also authored over 300 articles in both scientific journals and livestock periodicals on animal handling, welfare, and facility design. She is the author of "Thinking in Pictures,” "Livestock Handling and Transport," and "Genetics and the Behavior of Domestic Animals." Her book "Animals in Translation" is a New York Times best seller.
Emergency personnel often interact with horses for the first time when they are called to the scene of a trailer collision, barn fire or other crisis situation.
In order to better prepare fire, police and medical professionals for dealing with accidents involving equines, an Emergency Responder Horse Handling Training program was held on Monday, March 17, as a cooperative effort between Virginia Tech’s Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center and the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension (MARE) Center.
Thirteen first responders from throughout Northern Virginia participated in the four-hour educational event that was held at the MARE Center’s campus in Middleburg. Tutorials on horse behavior, handling, tack and basic first aid were lead by Dr. Jennifer Brown, clinical assistant professor in equine surgery at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center, and Dr. Shea Porr, northern district equine extension agent at the MARE Center.
Brown and Porr guided attendees through a verbal analysis of various critical scenarios involving horses. Participants also caught and released horses in stalls and paddocks, tied horses using quick-release knots, and lead horses to safe zones.
“We’ve found that emergency personnel often have no experience in rescuing horses,” said Brown. “Trailer accidents and barn fires can be frightening and chaotic situations but training can provide the knowledge needed to properly manage these incidents.”
According to Porr, the program was established to fulfill a need in Virginia’s equine-dense counties of Loudoun, Prince William, Fauquier, Clarke, Warren, Rappahannock, Culpeper and Stafford. The course, which was also offered on two occasions earlier in the year, has been completed by more than 66 emergency responders.
“The result is that we now have many local first responders who are better able to handle horses in critical situations,” said Porr. “With the large number of horses in Northern Virginia, this training should be of great benefit to the area’s equine community.”
Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine Presents SAVMA Symposium The Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine (CPCVM) in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine recently presented a day-long seminar focused on veterinary careers in public practice as part of the annual meeting of the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) held March 21at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama.
Public practice is an area historically underserved by the veterinary profession, according to Dr. Bettye Walters, director of the Maryland campus based CPCVM. In view of the recent threat posed by Avian Influenza H5N1 and the possibility that zoonotic disease agents might be used as bioterrorism weapons, there is an urgent need for more veterinarians to serve in this sector of the profession.
The symposium- the third of its kind- is designed to provide information to veterinary students on the opportunities and benefits a career in public practice has to offer and it is sponsored through grants awarded to the center by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to recruit veterinarians for their agency and others in the federal government.
"The impact a veterinarian can have in public practice is quite significant," said Dr. Walters. "You have the potential to help vast numbers of animals all across the nation and even globally at one time."
This year's presenters included representatives from the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other branches of the US Government.
Dr. Linda Detwiler, assistant director of the CPCVM, provided opening remarks for the symposium and another featured presenter was Dr. Marie Suthers McCabe, a former faculty member in the VMRCVM who now works for Heifer International. Those interested in learning more about the symposium can download the symposium presentations in PDF format from the CPCVM website.
The Blacksburg and Leesburg campuses of the VMRCVM are making plans to participate in Virginia Tech’s upcoming April 16 “Remembrance” events. The university has scheduled a number of events to honor the 32 students and faculty that were slain by a deranged gunman last year.
All employees, students and alumni are invited to attend. Details are available on the following website: www.remembrance.vt.edu
Out of respect for those individuals who wish to attend memorial services, the Veterinary Teaching Hospital on the Virginia Tech campus will essentially be closed on April 16, according to Interim Hospital Director Dr. Bill Pierson. Necessary care will be provided for hospitalized patients and emergencies will be received during the day. Essential personnel will need to report for work, but supervisors are being asked to be as flexible as possible in order to allow faculty, staff and students to attend the day’s activities.
The VMRCVM Staff Association has commissioned the production of a large, framed photographic print of the “Candlelight Vigil” ceremony that was held on the Drillfield on April 17 and it will be permanently hung on a wall adjacent to the entrance of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
Virginia Tech’s Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center will host a Time of Remembrance event at 1:30 pm on Wednesday, April 16 (rain or shine). All college alumni in the Northern Virginia area are encouraged to attend.
Speakers will include Dr. Martin Furr, Professor and Adelaide C. Riggs Chair in Equine Medicine at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center; Dr. William D. Tyrrell, Jr., past president, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society; and Mr. Joseph Keusch, council member, Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center. A moment of silence will be observed followed by a violin solo and the release of 32 doves. A reception will take place after the service.
Veterinary students enrolled in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech will present a community "dogwash" on Saturday, April 12 from 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. on the Blacksburg campus.
The community dogwash event will be held at the rear of the veterinary college complex. Signs on Southgate and Duck Pond Drive will help guide dogwash participants to the event.
Presented semi-annually by DVM students enrolled in the college, the dogwash is always a popular community event. The cost of a dog wash is $10 and for an additional $5 customers can have their dogs' nails trimmed and ears cleaned.
Animals will be washed on a "first-come, first-served" basis and no appointments are necessary. Dogs will be washed while owners wait. Dogs must be on a leash, and be at least five months old with current vaccinations.
The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine will hold its annual “Open House” on Saturday, April 5 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Visitors will have the opportunity to take guided tours of the 225,000 square foot complex, glimpse the inside of a dog’s stomach, witness equine acupuncture, and learn about the modern veterinary medical profession, among other things.
At 10 a.m., veterinary students will begin conducting guided tours of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and other college facilities. Tours last approximately 60 minutes and will depart at thirty-minute intervals throughout the day. A new video profiling the college entitled “Breaking New Ground in Veterinary Medicine” will be shown periodically throughout the day.
Children’s stuffed animals can be “surgically repaired” during a “Teddy Bear Repair Clinic” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a drawing contest for kids will also be featured. Demonstrations and informational sessions on radiology, endoscopy, ultrasound, equine thermography and other topics will also be presented throughout the day.
The day will feature a lecture at 10:30 a.m. entitled, “Salmonella: What’s in your peanut butter?” by Dr. Kevin Pelzer, an associate professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (DLACS).
Presentations on how to prepare a competitive application for veterinary college will be made at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.; presentations on equine colic will be featured at 10:30 a.m. and 12 p.m.
A silent auction featuring gift certificates and merchandise from local merchants as well as merchandise provided by VMRCVM clubs and organizations will be held from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
The annual Omega Tau Sigma Service Dog of the Year Award will be presented at 2 p.m. and the St. Francis of Assisi Service Dog Foundation will present a demonstration on how dogs are trained to help the physically-challenged.
For more information, contact Lynn Young, director of alumni relations and student affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org
The VMRCVM has proudly introduced a shiny new "window to the world."
Following more than a year in development, an extensive redesign of the college's website was introduced on March 16.
The redesign includes many exciting new changes, all of which were undertaken in an effort to create a modern-looking, user-friendly information resource that reflects the vitality of the VMRCVM and provides stakeholders with ready access to the information they need.
The site includes an appealing new graphic interface and has organized vast amounts of information in a way that allows users to quickly navigate their way to target areas.
"I'm very pleased with the quality of the product, and proud of the outstanding work that has been accomplished by Alison Elward and Rebecca Stotler in our Web Development group, and by Marjorie Musick on the EMC portion of the redesign," said VMRCVM Communications Director Jeff Douglas. "I would also like to recognize everyone from throughout our college who provided content management support and assistance throughout this process."
Douglas added that he was also grateful to the department heads and program managers for the leadership role they played in developing support and cooperation for this project.
Websites plays a primary role in the way organizations conduct their business, identify and maintain relationships, and ultimately, the way they achieve their strategic goals, according to Douglas.
In order to remain an effective communication tool, he said, all members of an organization must periodically review and ensure the relevance and accuracy of information pertaining to their program areas.
"We're very fortunate to have dedicated and talented employees in our web development group, but our success in this area is going to depend upon a sustained community effort," he said.
Visit the site at: www.vetmed.vt.edu
Camelids, particularly alpacas, are an expanding component of the animal population in the local area and nearby states. The veterinarians in the college’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital have a strong interest in clinical research to investigate camelid diseases, novel diagnostic tests and therapeutics. These projects are often completed with the assistance and participation of alpacas and their owners. Financial assistance to sponsor projects is also greatly appreciated. Current projects that are seeking alpaca participation and funding include:
Investigation of intravenous fluid therapy in alpacas.
Dehydration is a common consequence of diseases that require alpacas to be hospitalized including infections, heat stress, parasitism, respiratory and neurologic disorders. More investigation is required to fully understand how alpacas respond to fluid therapy. The goals of this project are to study the responses of alpacas when given intravenous fluids to collect information that will help us to formulate intravenous fluid therapy protocols for hospitalized alpacas.
Determination of ultrasonographic characteristics of umbilical remnants in clinically normal crias.
Abscessation of umbilical structures can be a significant cause of mortality in horses and cattle. No studies have established normal values for ultrasound examination of umbilical remnants in alpacas. By defining the normal characteristics of these structures we will be able to more accurately determine whether any abnormality is present.
Echocardiographic parameters in clinically normal alpacas.
Echocardiography is the use of ultrasound to visualize the heart structure and estimate its function. It is used to identify cardiac diseases and guide treatment. Echocardiography can be used to identify congenital heart defects in newborns and adults, and can identify acquired diseases like valvular degeneration and cardiomyopathies (heart muscle disease). Our ability to maximize the diagnostic potential of echocardiography is hampered by the fact that normal measurements for alpaca hearts have never been studied. We propose to perform echocardiograms on healthy alpacas and crias to define normal values for alpaca echocardiography.
Pharmacokinetics of esomeprazole in alpacas.
Ulceration of the third compartment (C3) of the stomach can occur in periods of stress and illness. No commercially available drug has been validated for use in the alpaca by intramuscular or subcutaneous administration. Oral drugs appear ineffective due to breakdown by the stomach. Investigation of esomeprazole (Nexium®) would be invaluable to determine efficacy in this species.
Please contact Dr. Mark Crisman or Dr. Virginia Buechner-Maxwell for further information regarding research objectives, animal participation or sponsorship information.
The Harry T. Peters, Jr. Large Animal Hospital at Virginia Tech is experienced in the treatment and care of crias and adults. Complete emergency and intensive care facilities are available 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.
Sometimes things don’t go according to plan and young alpacas are in need of medical treatment. The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) is equipped with the staff and equipment necessary to provide specialist care for neonatal alpacas. Commonly encountered emergencies include failure of passive transfer of immunity requiring plasma transfusion, sepsis (infection) and pneumonia.
The VMRCVM provides a referral service on a routine and emergency basis. We offer comprehensive specialist services for evaluation of
Our hospital boasts a state-of-the-art surgical facility. Special areas of expertise include :
Our Theriogenology team, led by Dr. John Dascanio, offers a complete reproductive service and is available for consultation on any breeding issues that you may have. The services we offer include: