The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges:

50 Years of Progress
in Academic Veterinary Medicine

WA Veterinarian Magazine

by Andrew T. Maccabe, DVM, JD, MPH

Mar/Apr 2016

I sometimes wonder how often veterinarians think about the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). Probably not too much. We know how busy you are operating a business and practicing veterinary medicine. There’s probably not a lot of time to stop and think about the educational institutions that prepared you for this wonderful profession – and remain an important part of your professional life in so many ways.

The success of our colleges and schools depends a great deal upon your understanding and support, so I’m grateful for this opportunity to tell you a little about the work of the AAVMC and this special moment in time for us.

The AAVMC is in the midst of a year-long 50th anniversary celebration. Our theme, “Fifty and Forward,” was selected because we’re pausing to honor our past, but more important, we want to look forward and ask, “What can we do to make the next 50 years better?”

The AAVMC was founded in 1966 with 18 U.S. and Canadian colleges of veterinary medicine then in existence. Today, 49 Council on Education (COE) accredited colleges of veterinary medicine are AAVMC members, including all of the 35 colleges and schools in the United States and Canada, as well as 14 colleges located in Europe, Australasia, Mexico and the Caribbean. Today, the AAVMC is internationally recognized for its high standards of excellence in veterinary medical education.

Based in Washington, D.C., the AAVMC collaborates with the AVMA and other allied organizations as it works to foster the success of veterinary medicine. Our motto, “The Future of Veterinary Medicine,” is self-evident when you consider our core duty is to educate future generations of high-quality veterinarians.

You may be familiar with some of the AAVMC’s major programs:

  • The AAVMC operates the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS), which provides a centralized application service for prospective students.
  • The AAVMC annually compiles the Comparative Data Report, the most comprehensive summary of statistical information that exists concerning academic veterinary medicine.
  • The AAVMC publishes the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education (JVME), which is the only refereed academic journal focused on academic veterinary medicine.
  • The AAVMC works closely with the AVMA to develop support for our profession in Washington.

The organization is functionally structured to address its work in three major ways:

Analyzes
The primary source of information about national trends in veterinary medical education, the AAVMC generates high-quality data and analyses that support evidence-based decision making and planning throughout the profession.

Catalyze
The AAVMC convenes meetings for stakeholders and thought leaders like the Veterinary Educators Collaborative (VEC), the Primary Care Veterinary Educators (PCVE) and other groups that generate new ideas and approaches for creating progress in veterinary medical education and the profession. 

Advocate
As the voice of academic veterinary medicine, the AAVMC works with Congress, executive agencies like the National Institutes for Health, and the public to develop funding and create opportunities in veterinary medicine.

Through these systematic approaches, the AAVMC promotes progress in five overarching areas:

Achieving Educational Excellence
The AAVMC inspires innovation and programs that ensure the highest standards of quality in our educational institutions and seeks to develop leaders for tomorrow’s profession.

Recruiting High-Quality Future Professionals
The AAVMC gathers information regarding perceptions and behavior among prospective students and sponsors workshops, conferences, and meetings to promote the success of admissions personnel at member institutions.

Enhancing Diversity in the Veterinary Profession
The AAVMC works to achieve greater diversity within the veterinary profession by gathering, analyzing and sharing diversity-related data, and reaches out to under-represented groups with recruitment programs.

Promoting a One-Health Approach to Global Wellbeing
The AAVMC works in a variety of ways to foster One Health, which engages veterinarians, physicians and environmental scientists in a collaborative approach to promoting global health and wellbeing for people and animals.

Fostering Progress Through Discovery
The AAVMC cultivates federal government support for basic and applied university research programs that foster animal and human health and encourages the development of the next generation of veterinary researchers.

I’d also like to tell you about our 50th Anniversary celebration. We’ve put together a collection of communication programs and special events to commemorate the occasion, and more importantly, shine some light on our profession. We’ve produced a special edition of the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education and commissioned former dean Dr. Don Smith from Cornell to write our history book. We’ve developed a major video as well as a snappy television PSA, and encouraged our deans to share them with you during state veterinary medical association meetings. You can see them online by visiting www.aavmc.org and clicking on the opening anniversary graphic.

We’ve invited our allied organizations to recognize our anniversary benchmark with a resolution or letter of commendation, and we’re working with the Veterinary Medicine Caucus in the U.S. Congress on other recognition programs. Finally, to address our commitment to the future, we’re planning an anniversary “Grand Initiative,” which will be announced during our March 2016 annual meeting.

Why is all this important to you? Because our anniversary celebration is magnifying the value and importance of what veterinarians do every day in communities across the nation. By raising awareness among consumers, policy-makers, and government officials we’re trying to build support for our entire profession. We sincerely hope what we’re doing on the national and international level is creating a better operating environment for you.

The veterinary college serving your region is there for you in many ways: as a referral center, providing telephone consults, CE programs, pet memorial programs for your clients and other programs, it contributes to your success. In turn, many of you are involved with mentoring programs or work with lawmakers to support legislation and budget activity that helps your college. We are grateful for all you do.

On this anniversary and always, we are reminded of the critical importance of this most essential relationship. Thanks for letting me share a little about what we are doing.