Specialization: Panelists delve into top professional issues facing veterinary medicine; DVM Newsmakers Summit - DVM
News Center
DVM Featuring Information from:


Specialization: Panelists delve into top professional issues facing veterinary medicine; DVM Newsmakers Summit
Education faces major dilemmas to clog funding, talent drain


Dr. David Lane
Dr. Lane: I'd like to see as many general practitioners as possible come back into the universities. The universities have pretty much said no we don't want GP's teaching our kids, but I learned a lot from some of the old timers out in the trenches. They helped with my education along with the specialists. We do need more specialists; in fact, I think there's a maldistribution of specialists. Our veterinary schools were born on an agrarian idea that the legislature would fund them because of the food and fiber portion of our profession. Now we've moved totally away from food and fiber focus at our schools. The state legislatures are asking why we are funding programs for dogs and cats. The veterinary schools are strangled for money. We've got to find the Betty White of this world to come in and help us fund these programs better. I doubt if all this money will come from the state as far funding a continuing expansion of specialists in companion animal medicine.

Dr. Walther: I have just a brief comment on a challenge that's going to come as a result of these tremendous changes occurring and that is the medical/legal issue of when to refer. And I think I would like to see the guidelines come from the profession rather than from the legal ramifications of our not doing it. This is something that's going to have to be taught in the schools; it's going to have to be an education for practitioners and the public on when is the proper time.

Dr. Block: When I was prepping for this talk, I came across a JAVMA paper from the early '90s that surveyed practice owners on some of the surgical skills that they felt graduating seniors should be able to perform and they included in the top five were fracture repair, PU surgery, cruciate surgery and an FHO. That was 15 to 16 years ago. These days, I don't think you could get a student to not refer one of these cases based on the training he or she receives in veterinary school. I'm the beneficiary of an excellent veterinary education, but does it make sense that we have our students spend 50 percent of their surgery block watching intrathoracic surgery and 14 hemilaminectomies knowing that when they see the down dog in practice they're going to try cutting it themselves?

Kerry M. Richard, JD
Ms. Richard: From the perspective of human medicine, certainly residency training programs have been around for years, but one of the reasons they're so well funded is because they do receive public funding through Medicare reimbursement.

There is no parallel system in veterinary medicine. So if a specialty clinic trains a resident, the only way they make money off that resident is by charging for their services to private payers which means they're doing more work than they are learning in many instances.

It's not necessarily an effective model. Within the academic institutions, they're finding difficult opportunities to train without funding residents. To push for specialization through greater residency programs may not work for veterinary medicine at least until a funding source comes out. I know we're going to get into this idea of third-party payers later which may in fact end up being that source of funding as it is on the human side in many cases.


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
Click here