Recommendation 3c: U.S. veterinary colleges should evaluate and implement alternative options for the delivery of veterinary education and research.

Veterinary teaching is evolving and some non-traditional models are now used by AVMA-accredited veterinary colleges. Alternative models for veterinary education, and those that spread the cost of specialty training, in particular, need to be evaluated by inter-professional committees to identify those that hold promise for improving the efficiency of veterinary medical education and research in the United States. Alternatives for further evaluation include:

• Creating university-private sector collaborations to establish comprehensive medical centers that can meet the needs of animal owners and provide a state-of-the-art infrastructure for specialist training in companion-animal and equine medicine. Such centers would also serve as a focus for clinical trials and other research.

• Sharing responsibility for specialty training though interschool collaborations; relying on talent in private veterinary practices, specialty practices, industry, and public agencies; and by enlisting the support of government, nongovernmental organizations, and other stakeholders.

• Reducing the length of pre-veterinary education to permit students with strong academic records to apply to veterinary school after 1 or 2 years of undergraduate study.

• Establishing more joint degree programs, such as the DVM-MPH and DVM-MBA. Finding financial support for DVM-PhD programs is essential to make the pursuit of a PhD more attractive, increase the pool of potential veterinary faculty, and broaden the base of veterinary medicine.

CONCLUSION 4: The veterinary profession is losing its presence in food-animal production and care.

With the changing nature of food-animal production in America, the demand for traditional veterinary services has declined, creating two related problems: how to develop production medicine to serve the dynamically changing and increasingly intensive livestock and poultry industries; and, how to provide veterinary services in the rural United States where fewer and more widely dispersed farms make it difficult for food-animal clinicians to remain in practice.

Recommendation 4a: To increase the economic value of veterinary services to producers, the education of food-animal practitioners should be reoriented towards herd health and interventions aimed at improving the financial health of the farm operation. Veterinary schools and colleges should work together to achieve this goal by creating centers of emphasis on food-animal medicine.

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