Answering a call for veterinarians to fill a critical need in public service and corporate practice, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recently signed a formal memorandum of understanding (MOU) that aims to better promote careers in these sectors.
Working with the National Association of Federal Veterinarians (NAFV) and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine’s Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, the partnership seeks to educate Congress and human resource managers within the federal government of a wide variety of job opportunities that veterinarians are qualified to fill and to boost career-building programs that seek to recruit, train and retain the next-generation workforce.
The partnership comes in response to several studies that have outlined potential workforce gaps where veterinarians will be needed to provide key expertise on issues such as public health, food systems, biomedical research, diagnostic laboratory investigation, pathology, epidemiology, ecosystem health and food animal practice.
“We have long recognized veterinarians as the medical doctors who treat our pets when they are sick, but what many do not realize is that veterinarians emerge from graduate school with the training and skills that are needed to tackle a wide range of complex issues related to public health, biological science, the environment and agriculture,” said Dr. Ron DeHaven, AVMA’s chief executive and executive vice president. “As the world better understands and appreciates the interconnectedness between animal, public and environmental health, it is important that we continue recruiting veterinarians with the technical expertise and scientific know-how to fill a critical need in public and corporate practice. Together with the National Association of Federal Veterinarians and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, we bring a unique understanding of the current and future workforce needs and are positioned to establish a framework that will help us to balance the needs of society with an ample supply of veterinarians.”
“Federal veterinarians in more than 29 practice areas use their skills and expertise to serve many governmental agencies, focusing on the prevention of animal diseases, protection of food safety, and preparation for and response to zoonotic disease outbreaks and other catastrophic events,” said Dr. Michael Gilsdorf, NAFV’s executive vice president. “A recent assessment of the federal veterinary workforce identified several workforce gaps where the leadership, technical skills, and the training and expertise of veterinarians could fulfill future agency mission requirements. Through this new partnership between AVMA and the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, we will work to better communicate the additional ways in which veterinarians can contribute to government efforts and society as a whole.”
“The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine is very well positioned to partner with the AVMA and NAFV to prepare veterinary students and veterinarians for career opportunities beyond private clinical practice,” said Dr. Cyril Clarke, dean of the veterinary college. “The location of our Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine on the University of Maryland campus places it in close proximity to a wealth of federal, not-for-profit and other organizations in the Washington, D.C.-area that are working nationally and internationally to advance animal and public health. It is also important that we work together to develop deeper relationships between the profession and organizations involved in food and fiber production, biomedical research and product development.”
Given that many graduating veterinarians are unaware of the job opportunities available to them outside of the traditional veterinary clinic setting, the MOU first aims to boost visibility of the careers that can be found in public and corporate practice through a broad education campaign. The second, longer-range goal, is for the three partners to increase the demand for federally employed veterinarians and to create better training programs that will assist veterinary professionals who seek careers in public or corporate practice.
The full text of the MOU, including an in-depth outline of the scope of work, can be found here. The agreement will remain in force for an indefinite term.