For most veterinary students, the last opportunity to learn the basic sciences is as students in the DVM program. Most continuing education offered to DVMs is for enhancing and developing additional clinical skills and hospital management. Veterinary college curricula have lost ground in preparing the DVM for public practice over the last several decades, and consequently, many government agencies that hire DVMs need to provide additional training to bring them to agency standards. To meet the increased needs in this area, schools should encourage public practice careers for both pre-veterinary and veterinary students.
Many colleges of veterinary medicine are implementing programs to encourage DVM students and graduate students to enter public practice and food supply veterinary medicine through the rationale for One Health (AVMA, 2008). However, resource limitations and financial constraints have reduced the capacity of academic institutions to implement effective and sustainable educational programs. One approach to filling the need for public practice veterinarians has been the development of DVM programs in conjunction with a Masters of Public Health (MPH). The committee found thirteen colleges of veterinary medicine that offer dual DVM/MPH degrees. At the University of Illinois, for example, students can transfer a portion of the credits earned for the DVM degree toward an MPH degree. However, without matching what is required in various MPH programs with government talent needs and strategic planning, this additional educational and financial burden may not reap the benefits intended. It is critical that academic programs work closely with the OPM and the Talent Management Advisory Council to match government needs with educational programs.
Another strategy would be to match admission criteria with workforce needs. Schools could target recruitment and offer scholarship programs for students with public practice interests (Prince et al., 2006). Admission criteria could be modified to select for a broader range of skills required for public practice. Colleges that are aware of public practice competencies developed by government are seeking ways to attract a more diverse pool of students by putting emphasis on written and oral communication and leadership skills.
The Food-Animal Production Medicine Consortium, a partnership formed by several veterinary colleges (California, Illinois, Michigan, and Florida) to provide food-animal and food safety educational and research programs, operated for more than a decade but lost momentum; there may be lessons learned from that experience (Troutt, 1994). More recently, Miller and Prasse (2006) recommended concentrating faculty into Centers of Excellence so that instructional quality and accuracy of information delivered can be maintained. These Centers would seek to hire faculty with public practice, public health and food supply veterinary medicine experience, or establish ways to use the expertise of such individuals. There is a cadre of experienced and talented veterinarians working in government who, by the nature of their employment and regulatory limitations to professional practice, may not hold advanced degrees but have research grants or extensive publications. These veterinarians are often available