Veterinary student debt summit on the horizon
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Association and American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) and Michigan State University (MSU) are teaming up to host a veterinary student debt summit in April, according to the AVMA's website, avma.org.
In November 2015 the AVMA aimed to set the stage for this spring's summit by holding a workshop at its Schaumburg, Illinois, headquarters. According to the avma.org, that workshop group, made up of deans, students, recent graduates, employers and governmental agencies, suggested that "it's critically important for veterinary stakeholders to collaborate on and commit to a goal that lowers the debt-to-income ratio for veterinarians." They settled on four strategic initiatives: tuition reduction, value of the veterinary school graduate, debt reduction and practice economics.
These strategies will be the focus of this April's summit, to be held April 20-22 at the MSU campus, and will involve up to 200 people, according to avma.org.
“What we’re talking about is student education economic issues, which goes beyond debt. These meetings will discuss all relevant factors, from starting salaries to the cost of education to the debt students incur and how they service it,” said AVMA’s then-CEO Ron DeHaven at the AVMA Board of Directors’ meeting Sept. 10-12, according to avma.org.
AVMA Director of Economics Mike Dicks echoed these sentiments in a recent column for dvm360.com. "The important takeaway here is that veterinary education debt is not specifically a student problem but a problem with the cost of education in general, and the root cause of the problem is shared by the colleges of veterinary medicine, the university as a whole and the general public," he writes. "More importantly, the excessive debt problem can be readily solved through better financial education for a target group of students, placing borrowing limits on veterinary education loans, or both."
The AVMA Economics Division, the AVMA’s Veterinary Economics Strategy Committee and its research partners will also place more attention on the analysis of consumer demand characteristics, including how to provide affordable veterinary services without reducing standards of care, according to an AVMA release.
“We already know a great deal about this issue," says Andrew T. Maccabe, DVM, JD, executive director of the AAVMC. "We want to focus on solutions and action items at the summit in April.”