There is a groundswell of concern among your fellow veterinarians that the current system of accrediting veterinary medical schools has become harmful to the future well-being of the profession. The current system is in the process of review and we believe that the current system must be changed.
There are three primary areas of concern:
Many people are familiar with the plight the legal profession finds itself in where new young lawyers are finding it impossible too get jobs in the legal field and end up working at Starbucks. Increasingly this is happening in the veterinary profession. Salaries are flat and the debt to earnings ratio is the worst among medical professions a recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine showed. Even the legal profession recognizes that they are better off than veterinarians. Veterinarians ourselves, however, have been slow to admit to the reality of this problem. For more information see the following resources:
The Law School Scam - The Atlantic Magazine
Professor Says Veterinary School is a Bigger Scam than Law School - Business Insider
The Economics of Law School – the New York Times
Are we in a Medical Education Bubble Market? – The New England Journal of Medicine
Yes, very much so. After a period of about thirty years during which Western University was the only new veterinary school to open there has been a recent flurry of veterinary schools opening or about to open, as well as the UNAM veterinary school in Mexico gaining accreditation by the AVMA-Council on Education (COE). The existing veterinary schools have received less funding from their state governments and have responded by increasing class sizes. This means that there are many more veterinarians graduating every year than there were just a few years ago. This has already led to difficulty for new graduates getting jobs, and flat or falling starting salaries.
Veterinary medical programs are accredited by the AVMA-Council on Education (COE). The membership consists of at least five veterinary medical college faculty members; at least six private practitioners; one at-large member; one veterinary researcher; one public health veterinarian; and one non-private practice, non-academic veterinarian. Additionally, the COE appoints three public members. One Canadian veterinarian is appointed and funded by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. One voting member is appointed as an official representative of the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC).
The AVMA-Council on Education (COE) is supposed to be independent from the AVMA. However, it is not independent. This leads to the potential for conflict of interest. The biggest conflict of interest that has resulted is that the AVMA is not free to fulfill its primary mission, which is to advocate for its membership
Due to a concern amongst the membership the AVMA convened a taskforce to look into the impact accrediting foreign schools had on the US veterinary market and its practitioners. However, no sooner had the taskforce convened its first meeting than the AVMA attorney issued an opinion that a discussion of the issue would be in violation of the Federal Trade Commission's regulations and might result in a lawsuit. It should be noted that the AVMA-Council on Education (COE) does not employ its own attorney, and is therefore dependent on the AVMA attorney's opinion. This demonstrates the lack of independence between the two entities. We question the validity of the AVMA attorney's opinion and believe it to be in error.
The AVMA's core mission is to advocate for the benefit of its membership. The AVMA has allowed itself to be caught up in the legal intricacies of school accreditation and is ignoring its core mission. It is the role of the AVMA-COE to worry about the accreditation and it is the AVMA's job to advocate for its membership.
The opportunity for written comments has passed, but the hearing will be Dec 11. Watch for an email form us (sign up here) about informational resources like webinars on just exactly how the LCME is structured, and how the COE could be spun off into an indeoendent body using the NBVME as a model. Plus, we'll draw attention to alternatives to PLIT and provide live coverage of the upcoming AVMA Economic Summit!
You can join the Facebook Group Under the Microscope: Professional Issues in Veterinary Medicine or read about the issue on VIN. If you are not a VIN member then you can read past news articles about the issue at the VIN news service website. You can also follow @DVM_Microscope on Twitter.