Schaumburg, Ill. — The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) released new statements on the most critical issues facing veterinary medicine.
The joint statements, approved by each organizations’ respective boards in August, touch on topics like veterinary education, the responsible and judicious use of antimicrobial drugs, and roles of veterinarians in promoting animal welfare.
“We are living in a global society, where issues related to animal and human health know no boundaries and impact us all, regardless of where we live,” says AVMA President René Carlson. “These joint statements—and most importantly the spirit of cooperation behind them—will serve us well as we strive to protect and enhance global health, both in the practice of veterinary medicine and in the political arena where rules and regulations are established.”
The joint statement on veterinary medical education states that new veterinarians, at the time of graduation, must possess basic scientific knowledge, skills and values, and be able to perform in an “independent and responsible way.”
New graduates should have sufficient “day-one” competency in the following areas, according to the statement:
• Adequate knowledge of the sciences on which the activities of the veterinarian are based;
• Adequate knowledge of the causes, nature, course, effects, diagnosis and treatment of the diseases of animals, whether considered individually or in groups, including knowledge of the diseases which may be transmitted to humans;
• Adequate clinical experience to diagnose, treat and prevent mental or physical disease, injury, pain or defect in an animal, or to determine the health and welfare status of an animal or group of animals, particularly its physiological status, including the prescription of veterinary medicines;
• Adequate knowledge of the structure and functions of healthy animals, of their husbandry, reproduction and hygiene in general, as well as their feeding, including the technology involved in the manufacture and preservation of foods corresponding to their needs;
• Adequate knowledge of the behavior and protection of animals;
• Adequate knowledge of preventive medicine;
• Adequate knowledge of food hygiene and technology involved in the production, manufacture and distribution of animal products intended for human consumption;
• Adequate knowledge of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to the subjects listed previously;
• Ability to effectively communicate with clients, colleagues and staff;
• Ability to work within the diverse disciplines that comprise veterinary medicine in accordance with appropriate professional codes of ethics and conduct;
• Adequate knowledge of veterinary business operations, resource management, personnel management and finances;
• Adequate knowledge of the role of research in furthering the practice of veterinary medicine and the need for life-long learning to ensure currency of knowledge and skills;
AVMA and FVE also agree that accreditation of veterinary medical education programs is best accomplished though a process of peer review that is independent, objective and impartial, and that can meet the changing needs of society.
Next: Antimicrobial use  >
While the development of antimicrobials has made enormous contributions to improving the health and welfare of people and animals, AVMA and FVE say responsible and judicious use is fundamental to preserving antimicrobial efficacy.
“The veterinary profession has a great deal to offer in relation to the prevention of antimicrobial resistance, with its knowledge and understanding of good veterinary practice and the responsible use of medicines,” according to the joint statement. “However, for an optimal result, approaches to preserve antimicrobial efficacy must be well coordinated and encompass everyone involved in the use of antimicrobials, including physicians, veterinarians, pharmacists, individual patients, animal caretakers and producers.”
Veterinarians must be involved in efforts to preserve antimicrobial therapies in animals by first considering other scientifically proven therapeutic options before using antimicrobial therapy.
Once the decision is made to use antimicrobials, the following considerations must be made to optimize therapeutic efficacy while minimizing resistance:
• Utilize diagnostic results including culture and sensitivity to aid in the selection of antimicrobials;
• Ensure appropriate duration of treatment to achieve the desired clinical response and prevent recurrence;
• Restrict therapeutic antimicrobial treatment to ill or at-risk animals, treating the fewest animals indicated.
Veterinarians should work with clients on the proper administration and compliance involved with antimicrobial treatments, and continue research and development of new tools that can reduce the profession’s dependence on antimicrobials, the statement continues.
Recognizing that animals are capable of pain and suffering, and that veterinarians have an obligation to help animal owners, handlers, caretakers and policy makers protect their welfare, AVMA and FVE say the profession has unique abilities to advocate for animal welfare. Among those are:
• Strong science-based knowledge about animal health and husbandry, and proficiency in the technical and practical application of that information;
• Empathy, which encourages veterinarians to ensure uses of animals are necessary and appropriate;
• Direct practitioner access to animals, the environments in which they are housed, and the people who own and care for them;
• Regular interactions with other individuals indirectly responsible for the welfare of animals (e.g., other scientists, policy makers, advocates in the industry and humane communities, the public); and
• Long-standing credibility earned through public service and adherence to high ethical and professional standards.
Veterinarians must not only work to implement existing standards, but must also contribute to ensuring continual improvement of those standards, according to the statement.
Veterinarians in various types of practice throughout the profession can take on many roles in protecting animal welfare, such as:
• Provide direct-to-owner/caretaker assistance in assessing the welfare of animals and in ensuring good animal welfare;
• Consulting veterinarians may complete in-depth evaluations of facilities and recommend standard operating procedures and best practices.
• Veterinary educators school future generations of veterinarians and paraprofessionals in the scientific and ethical bases behind the development and adoption of appropriate animal-care practices.
• Veterinary researchers promote good animal welfare within existing animal care systems and propose alternatives that may better accommodate animal needs. Veterinarians employed in governmental and nongovernmental organizations develop, certify and enforce animal care standards.
• Veterinarians with species-specific animal welfare expertise can serve as highly qualified, independent evaluators for assurance schemes.
"Both AVMA and FVE focus on the same fundamental themes that are important to veterinarians everywhere—animal health, public health, animal welfare and veterinary education, all within the context of One Health," says FVE President Christophe Buhot. "With these position papers, both organizations unify veterinary medicine in America as in Europe, allowing both continents to speak with one profession, one vision, one voice."
To read the full statements, visit avma.org  or fve.org .