Mark’s Blog

Between extremes of states’ rights and federal power

DVM360 Magazine

Egg legislation points to the need for moderation, compromise in issues where interests conflict.

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Defenders of democracy and the ability of voters to make good decisions usually aim for the center: the elusive midpoint between left and right, between hardcore liberals and extreme conservatives. While fringe groups grab headlines and talk show microphones, often with turbo-charged rhetoric, it seems to most of us that the work gets done in the middle.

The perils of extreme states’ rights and potentially overzealous federal power are nowhere more visible than in egg politics these past few years in California and Congress. A January 26 Wall Street Journal article depicts the carnage to consumers and producers, and it is devastating.

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Human-animal bond moves to center stage

DVM360 Magazine

Organization seeking congressional support from veterinarians for initiative promoting health benefits of pets.

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The North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) just concluded a highly successful annual conference in Orlando, Florida. Besides providing thousands of hours of high-quality continuing education for veterinarians and veterinary technicians, NAVC serves as the first gathering point each year for the animal health industry. Practicing veterinarians get the chance to mix with veterinary school deans and senior leaders from animal health and nutrition companies.

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Veterinary issues to watch in 2015 Congress

DVM360 Magazine

Pet medications bill still kicking; new grants could provide opportunities for rural veterinarians.

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Congress is back in session with a new Republican majority in charge of the Senate and a White House chastened from midterm losses. So what should veterinary medicine expect? Well, animal health may not have been the fulcrum of 2014 midterm elections, to be sure, but there will be critical action for veterinarians early on in 2015.

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News attacks on ethics of veterinarians are cheap shots

DVM360 Magazine

But proving that judgment is not impaired by compensation from industry is virtually impossible.

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The veterinary profession has endured two blistering attacks from media in the past week. The Indianapolis Star and Reuters have both accused veterinarians of being overly cozy with pharmaceutical manufacturers and imply that their judgment is impaired as a result. What do we make of this, and how should veterinary medicine respond?

When an entire profession’s motives are attacked as self-serving or purely profit-driven, it’s virtually impossible to disprove the negative. It’s truly a “guilty until proven innocent” game. If your premise is that a consulting or speaking payment to a veterinarian under any circumstance guarantees that that veterinarian’s independent judgment is co-opted, then how do you prove the contrary—namely, that all of the years of study, sacrifice and practice actually demand independent judgment?

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AVMA accreditation hearing goes according to form

DVM360 Magazine

Federal government hears from critics, supporters on role of AVMA Council on Education.

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The U.S. Department of Education conducted a full morning of hearings on December 11 to determine whether the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education (COE) should continue to serve as the accrediting body for veterinary colleges in the United States.

Supporters and critics alike voiced their views, and the department’s accreditation commission affirmed the continued role for the COE. Internal adjustments continue to be required of the COE, which will report back to the Department of Education at six- and 12-month intervals.

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Will fewer veterinarians usher in a rosy economic future?

DVM360 Magazine

Accreditation critics rely on sweeping generalizations, faulty assumptions.

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Two weeks ago I challenged the underlying argument relied upon by critics of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education (COE) to urge the U.S. Department of Education to abolish the COE. They want to fashion a new federally sanctioned agency to oversee veterinary education in America. For change of this magnitude, which would affect all future generations of veterinary students in our country, one would expect a few questions to be asked about their rationale, right? So let’s have a look.

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Election results pose obstacles for veterinary prescription law

DVM360 Magazine

Flip in U.S. Senate’s majority may slow progress of Fairness to Pet Owners Act.

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The American veterinary profession ends its fourth year battling legislation in Congress that seeks to drive pet owners to big box retailers for their pet medications. The fight began after the first Fairness to Pet Owners bill emerged on Capitol Hill in the summer and fall of 2010. With some credit due to nationwide veterinary and industry outreach, the House version lacked enough support and interest to warrant a committee hearing.

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Critics’ attack on COE is a solution in search of a problem

DVM360 Magazine

A look at the facts reveals a different picture of veterinary school accreditation than what’s being presented.

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Since 1981 the AVMA’s Council on Education (COE) has approved a total of three new veterinary colleges in the United States. That’s right: three new veterinary schools in 33 years, for an average of one new school every 11 years. Only 27 of America’s 50 states have a veterinary college, barely more than half. This is hardly a flood of new schools, yet that’s not the impression one gathers from the small band of critics challenging the COE and calling on the U.S. Department of Education to create a new agency to oversee veterinary education in the United States.

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What ‘elitism’ really means for veterinary school accreditation

DVM360 Magazine

Decades-old formula presented as the only model for success.

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If you want to understand how elitist the viewpoint is of academic critics of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA’s) Council on Education (COE), read the September 9, 2014, words of former University of Pennsylvania veterinary school dean Robert Marshak, DVM, from an ACVIM list-serve email:

COE has been accrediting veterinary schools that do not meet the COE’s published standards. The standards also have been weakened gradually, apparently in order to justify, retrospectively and prospectively, the accreditation of substandard schools. Substandard schools, charging very high tuitions, are producing hundreds of minimally educated entry-level graduates, a situation that bodes ill for the future of our educational system and, subsequently, for our profession and the society we serve. Further, the substandard schools contribute nothing to our discovery-based medical profession through research, the identification of and cure for new diseases, the development of new procedures, the provision of referral centers and diagnostic services, the development of clinical specialties, nor continuing education.

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Federal regulation of veterinary school accreditation brings elitists out of the woodwork

DVM360 Magazine

Critics of Council on Education seek establishment of independent agency.

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Few veterinarians are aware of a hearing soon to happen (Dec. 11) in Washington, D.C., that may change the shape of veterinary medicine in the United States for years to come. What’s particularly interesting is how a handful of armchair advocates are working feverishly to steer this process. This blog will be the first in a series examining this phenomenon and, more importantly, to consider what’s at stake.

So what’s the fuss?

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