Auburn-Trained DVM Deans Discuss Profession
Leading Four Colleges
Veterinary medical colleges are elite institutions, providing educational leadership in an ever-expanding and changing profession.
In the U.S., there are 30 colleges or schools that are accredited or have accreditation pending, with an enrollment of approximately 13,000 DVM students.
The deans of each college or school are part of a select group, serving as veterinarians, researchers, administrators and leaders. Of that 30, four earned their DVMs from Auburn. Auburn Veterinarian reached out to Eleanor Green ’73, DVM; Carolyn Henry ’90, DVM; Calvin Johnson ’86, DVM; and Jason Johnson ’03, DVM.
Eleanor GreenTexas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
Green holds the Carl B. King deanship of Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. She is a Diplomate of American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. Her academic appointments have included positions at Mississippi State University, the University of Missouri, the University of Tennessee, and the University of Florida. She served as president of three national organizations: American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, and the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians.
University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine
An oncology researcher, Henry practiced small animal and emergency medicine in Alabama and Georgia before returning to Auburn to complete an oncology residency. She served as a faculty member at Washington State University before joining the University of Missouri, becoming the first American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine board-certified oncologist. She has held a number of appointments and positions, including director of the Tom and Betty Scott Endowed Program in Veterinary Oncology; associate director of research at the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center; and associate dean for research and graduate studies. Henry served on the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Board of Regents and is past president of both the Veterinary Cancer Society and the ACVIM Specialty of Oncology.
Calvin Johnson Auburn
University College of Veterinary Medicine
Johnson has been dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University since 2013, where he advances the college’s academic mission in teaching, research, clinical veterinary practice, and public outreach. He is a graduate of Auburn University and North Carolina State University. He is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP) with a specialty in anatomic pathology. Johnson served on the faculty at the University of Florida for 11 years before joining Auburn as professor of pathology and head of the Department of Pathobiology. He currently serves as president of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.
Lincoln Memorial College of Veterinary Medicine
Johnson has held various academic and administrative positions at Lincoln Memorial, the DeBusk Veterinary Teaching Center, and as executive director of the Center for Animal Health in Appalachia, which he founded. He serves in numerous leadership capacities within organized veterinary medicine including the AVMA House of Delegates, Legislative Advisory Committee, the AVMA Food Safety Advisory Committee and is a board member of the Theriogenology Foundation. Prior to joining LMU, Johnson worked in private practice and served on the faculty of Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. In 2012, he was one of 10 veterinarians nationwide selected for the AVMA’s Future Leaders Program and was named to Veterinary Practice News’ 25 Vets to Watch in our 25th Year.
Auburn Veterinarian posed the same questions to each dean, asking them about the profession they love, how Auburn prepared them for their veterinary and academic career, and issues in today’s profession.
What made you choose Auburn for your DVM?
EG: I was a student from Florida and we were on the regional program in which the State of Florida paid the out-of-state tuition for 20 veterinary students/year from Florida to attend Auburn University (not many from the big state). At that time Auburn had earned the distinguished reputation for training the best veterinary practitioners, so I was keenly interested in going to Auburn.
CH: I was a Kentucky resident and the in-state tuition was critical for me to be able to afford vet school.
CJ: I spent my first 24 years in the Auburn community, and during my pre-college years, the College of Veter-inary Medicine served as the destination for veterinary students from many southern states. I was very fortunate to be an Alabama resident, so the decision to attend Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine was easy. I felt privileged to have the opportunity to attend Auburn and never considered attending any other college.
JJ: I grew up in L.A.; everybody knows that’s Lower Alabama, and I set my sights on Auburn University CVM when I was young.
Any specific memories– a favorite faculty member, anecdote– that you’d like to share of your time at Auburn?
EG: There are so many fabulous memories and so many memorable faculty members, it is hard to identify just one; however, Dr. Mike Shires was truly a standout. He had just come to the U.S. from South Africa, accepting a position as equine ambulatory clinician. He was a wonderful teacher and role model. He made everything fun and valuable, from learning to working hard. He was a remarkably talented clinician and an extraordinary communicator—with students, clients, faculty colleagues, staff, and others. He portrayed an impressive depth of knowledge applied with practicality. We all learned even more from him because of the climate he created for students. Interestingly, when he became Dean at the University of Tennessee, he recruited me from the University of Missouri to be his successor as Department Head of Large Animal Clinical Sciences and Director of the Large Animal Hospital. This was my foray into academic administration. I loved working with him on the UT administrative team.
Another faculty member who must be mentioned is Dr. Bob Hudson. He came to Auburn from practice in Oklahoma to work with Dr. Walker for one year, but stayed his entire career. He was the best. He was practical, approachable, well-read, and current in his discipline of bovine theriogenology, yet there were few questions he could not answer across disciplines. No student I know of ever had an unkind thought about Dr. Hudson. He left a positive mark on all of us.
What I remember most about Auburn is the camaraderie among the faculty, staff, and students. Some of my classmates have remained very close friends despite time and distance, such as Ken Quirk, Ed Murray, and David Newell. We worked hard as students and took our education seriously, but we had fun every day. Our first day as freshmen, we were greeted by upper classmen who instructed us to turn in our thermometers to be autoclaved. At least half the class complied. Another time, David Newell rode my horse into the anatomy lab during class, a feat I doubt could occur today. To this day, we have not figured out who put glue in the locks of the office doors of the pathology faculty after what was deemed to be a highly unreasonable exam. All this and more occurred in the “loveliest village on the plains” within a community that valued students, especially veterinary students. Our memories are special and lasting.
CH: There are so many to choose from! I remember that on my first day of classes, Dr. Charlie Hendrix was holding open the front door and as I walked in, he had a huge smile and said, “Let the games begin…” I remember trying to keep up with Dr. Clark in pharma-cology as he filled 3 chalkboards an hour with notes; I remember being challenged academically more than I had ever been challenged in my life and I remember the sense of community that developed as a result of all of us going through that experience together. And, as I finally received my diploma, I remember the bone-crushing handshake of Dean J.T. Vaughan. My days at Auburn were character-defining for me, and some of the best memories of my life.
CJ: When I was a veterinary student, and continuing today, the faculty in the first two years of the veterinary curriculum were outstanding. They facilitated the transition from undergraduate to veterinary education and constantly pointed out clinical correlates to the basic sciences. Dr. Paul Rumph in gross anatomy was an excellent example of this. His lecture on the pleura is as vivid to me today as it was 36 years ago. The thought of a miniature person entering the pleural cavity with a spray can and applying paint to the ribs (parietal pleura) and pericardium (visceral pleura), etc., is a classic example of his gift of connecting with students. Dr. Ted Reynolds was another uniquely talented faculty member in this regard. His description of the layers of the equine hoof and the illustration of the various layers of the hoof by tracing a nail entering the sole and extending to the third phalanx are hardwired in my brain. Dr. Charlie Hendrix and his enthusiastic animations of parasite life cycles were something to behold. As an anatomic pathologist, I’ve tried to use their methods when teaching students during diagnostic pathology rotation. As the saying goes, their methods are often imitated but never duplicated.
JJ: Well, I have always been resourceful. When I arrived for my residency at Auburn, we had, literally, just moved into the new big building; and our offices were located upstairs. It just so happened my classmate, Dr. Brian Whitlock, an amazing human being, asked if I wanted to share an office with him. Brian was our class salutatorian (I was farther down the list), and I know how osmosis works; so I agreed, and prepared my brain for an infusion of knowledge. The problem was, there was no desk for me. So, I strolled through the upstairs hallways and there were many empty offices, with desks, so I got someone who will remain unnamed, an amazing human being friend of mine, to help me relocate a brand new desk down to my new shared office. It was nice, fit super well. Life was good. A couple of weeks later we had our first Large Animal Section meeting and during the business part of it, Dr. Carson spoke up and said, “Well, I have a theft to report! Some of those dang equine residents stole my d*** desk!” I remained silent. My brain processed a thousand scenarios very quickly. I glanced at my amazing friend, and he was stone-faced, yet a little bulgy-eyed. I spoke up, “Um, Dr. Carson, I stole your desk.” That was the kick-off to what really became an unending, wonderful relationship with a man that I highly honor.
Was there a particular instance or event that led you into veterinary higher education?
EG: Upon graduation, my classmate and husband, Dr. Ashby Green, and I were partners/owners of a private veterinary practice, which we had built from the ground up in Guntown, Mississippi. At that time, Mississippi State University was in the process of developing a new college of veterinary medicine. Their dean, Dr. Jim Miller, had been hired, but it was so early in the process that legislative approval had not yet been achieved. He offered us both positions as founding faculty members. The family discussions were intense about whether to leave this successful practice we had built or to go. In the end, we concluded that if we passed up this opportunity, it would likely never come again, and if we went to Mississippi State and we found we preferred practice, we could be back in practice within weeks—so we accepted the offer. It was one of those decisions in life that changed the course of history in the most fulfilling way.
CH: I had no aspirations initially to be an academic clinician or administrator. I think I was blessed to have people along my career journey who believed in me and pushed me until I believed in myself. I am at a point in my career where I want to make a difference to the profession that has been so good to me. As a dean, I feel that I can do that.
CJ: As a student, my perception of Auburn’s veterinary college faculty and administration was that they were highly respected as leaders of Auburn University and were recognized throughout the community. They seemed dedicated to their jobs and enjoyed the company of their colleagues. They were held in high esteem by students, alumni, and the general public. By observing them, I wanted to follow in their footsteps to promote the veterinary profession through education
JJ: I was practicing in East Tennessee, and one day, out of the blue, Dr. Bob Carson calls and tells me he thinks I should do a theriogenology residency. I told him I was not interested. To which he replied, “Oh hell, think about it. Bye.” I always enjoyed educating others, from my younger days teaching at Boy Scout camp, all the way to the barn and exam room; so, naturally, I pondered his proposal, eventually applied for the residency, and the rest is history. It was that residency time, while reunited with excellent educators, that further solidified my current career path. The fuller story here is that perhaps I was always destined to be in some sort of education, as my mother is a professor at Troy University, a lifelong educator, and always promoted higher learning in our household. My father, while he will admit wasn’t the most stellar student, has the complete people package and can connect with anyone—I guess you could say I got the combo that eventually led me into higher education administration.
Did you emulate any veterinary administrators/faculty? If so, who and what characteristics?
EG: All I ever wanted to be was the best equine veter-inarian I could be and most of my effort was towards that goal, except that I also had a long-term attraction to leadership training of any kind. I read leadership books and articles and enrolled in leadership training offerings, as I was able. There were many along the way who have influenced me and shaped me as a leader, both through formal and informal means.
Certainly, I was motivated by Paul Neal, an equine surgeon from the University of Liverpool in England, who had come to Mississippi State as a visiting professor. He was an individual who was well-published at the time and enjoyed an international reputation as an equine surgeon, yet he was enormously humble and kind. I am always impressed by highly competent academicians/people who have notable humility and sincere concern for others. He also had a delightful sense of humor, that subtle British humor often missed by some. His positive attitude never changed despite the challenges around him. He became a dear friend and treasured colleague with whom I stayed in contact until his death. I would be remiss if I did not also call out Dr. Harold Garner. He was a brilliant mind, yet so unassuming. He and Dr. Jim Coffman were early investigators of equine laminitis, changing the way the profession understood this devastating disease. In his laboratory, his collaborative research on human cardiovascular disease was sustained over 10 consecutive years of NIH funding. I was fortunate to enjoy his mentorship as I pursued equine research. He and his wife, Patsy, remain cherished friends.
CH: My late husband, Dr. Jeff Tyler, had many qualities that I have tried to emulate, including work ethic, integrity, and a soft spot for underdogs. There were so many faculty who were just genuinely good people like Dwight Wolfe, Joe Spano, Bill Brawner, Steve Swaim, and countless others who modeled profession-alism for me in ways that have an impact on me to this day.
CJ: Dr. Lauren Wolfe, because of his sense of humor coupled with a sharp focus on academic excellence and advancement of science through research. Dr. Timothy R. Boosinger, because of his collegiality, warmth, and commitment to the advancement of the College of Veter-inary Medicine and Auburn University. Dr. John Thomas Vaughan, because of his intellect and engagement as a citizen, historian, and academic administrator; his humility; and his ability to connect personally with anyone. Although I admire his handshake, I haven’t been able to master it yet.
JJ: Wow. There are so many. As you well know, every person we become close to during this life ultimately becomes a part of our expressions, interactions, reactions, and outlook on life. So, I would say, in its purist form, the answer to this question is all of them; but there are a few that stand out.
During school, my top mentors were Drs. Christine Navarre and Gatz Riddell. Each spent huge amounts of time with me—and my fellow students—both on the pre-clinical and clinical floor and really challenged us to think on our feet. As my educational career advanced, my top mentors were Drs. Bob Carson and Dan Givens, my residency supervisor and research advisor, respectively. There is not a single lecture or lab for theriogenology that I have ever delivered that did not include a “Carson-ism.” We all know how well the man was known for his sayings. There is way more beyond that though. Dr. Carson was a very open, honest, humble, hardworking and non-judgmental man; and I seek to emulate these characteristics on a daily basis. Dan Givens taught me how to take hard subjects, hard situations, and effectively communicate that to my learner(s). Period.
What are the challenges/opportunities facing veterinary higher education today?
EG: All challenges are opportunities. Veterinary medical education exists in institutions of higher education, so we share the broader “opportunities,” such as declining state support, rising costs of providing the best education (such as that resulting from essential, advancing technologies), climbing student debt load, increasing public and student scrutiny of the value of higher education, leveraging diversity in an inclusive environment, globalization, and existing in an exponentially changing world alongside longstanding traditions.
For veterinary medicine itself, I believe one of the greatest “opportunities” is preparing students for success in an exponentially changing world. Considerations include the effect of and preparation for telehealth/telemedicine, artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual reality, robotics, and digital healthcare in the broader sense. Simply stated, if our students are not prepared for the exponentially changing world they will enter, they are unlikely to be successful. Helping ensure graduate achievement is a substantial responsibility for colleges of veterinary medicine today and into the future.
CH: We will face many challenges as we find the correct balance between private and corporate practice, struggle with work-life balance, and face the unique financial aspects of our profession. At the same time, our profession offers tremendous opportunities to tailor a career to one’s interests and life goals. With a DVM degree in hand, there are far more career doors opened for us than we ever imagined back when I graduated from Auburn.
CJ: As a college, we constantly review our curriculum to ensure that we’re giving students the knowledge, skills, and competencies to succeed in a world that requires constant adaptation in response to technology, new systems, and new opportunities. At the same time, students need to be grounded in the basic principles of science, clinical medicine, ethics, service, and good will.
JJ: The great opportunity for veterinary higher education is for us to embrace new learning models, leverage technology, acknowledge the ever-changing learning preferences of our new learners, provide diverse asynchronous pathways for students, and engage our alumni/life-long learners.
How did your Auburn DVM education prepare you?
EG: Auburn prepared me well to practice veterinary medicine. Even then, we were career ready.
CH: I learned as much about myself at Auburn than I did about veterinary medical practice. I was taught humility, professionalism, teamwork, respect, and what it means to be part of the Auburn family.
CJ: In more ways than I’ll ever know
JJ: The DVM degree is the ticket to the world and an endless array of professional opportunities. The actual education was an experience that provided a platform for personal growth and lifelong friends.
What’s going to be different for today’s graduates in the workplace from what you experienced as a new veterinary graduate?
EG: This question could fill an entire book, so I will offer only a few examples. As stated above, today’s graduates, who are digital natives, have access to technologies only dreamed of before. These technologies will enable the expansion of telemedicine/telehealth with unprecedented momentum. Telehealth/telemedicine will allow veterinarians to provide higher quality care to more animals more cost effectively. Coupled with artificial intelligence and machine learning, the veterinarian of the future will have expanded knowledge and skills. This digital revolution will result in new career opportunities for veterinarians in new practice models, entrepreneurship, biomedical engineering, technological advances, big data, and much more. In addition, I believe the world is beginning to value the education and skills of veterinarians more than ever before, and this upward trajectory will persist. Increased numbers of veterinarians will be involved in feeding the world, as the global population moves towards 10 billion people. Veterinarians will help shape the policy of healthcare in general and will be included on teams to mitigate global pandemics. They will advance human and animal health with a One Health approach, as they drive translational medicine, clinical trials, and animal models of human disease. As research in general continues to move towards an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach, veterinarians will be important members of and contributors to “team science.” The integration of professional and personal lives of veterinarians will continue to evolve; as the newer generations are dedicated to making a difference in the world, while they devote time and attention to families and personal fulfillment. Veterinarians will be more attuned to the importance of wellness.
CH: There are many more career choices available and a greater emphasis on One Health and how human, animal, and environmental health intersect. Graduating classes today are >80% female and new grads have the option of corporate practice. There are better diagnostic tools and treatment options and our clients are more knowledgeable of these options due to internet access to medical information. I sincerely hope that the art of a thorough physical exam is not lost with these new tools and that we, as a profession continue to be characterized as perceptive, resourceful, innovative, and compassionate clinicians.
CJ: The opportunities to excel in veterinary medicine, biomedical science, and related fields are plentiful if a graduate is well trained, engaged, innovative, and eager to work hard. I believe the opportunities are more diverse and exciting now than when I graduated 32 years ago.
JJ: First off, the sheer diversity of jobs that are available. Second, new graduates are natural life-long learners, and digital/virtual platforms will enable them to learn and recraft their job profile. Not only will there be more diverse jobs, but also the speed at which new graduates can pivot and change their area of veterinary interest is super easy. Big data, cloud computing, smart phones, wearable technologies, AI and reliable access to information make the client interface, disease diagnosis, treatment and monitoring a totally different experience. New platforms will allow the graduate to interact in diverse ways, through diverse media with their client (picture, video, chat), and these new doctors will have all their patients’ information at their fingertips, on their smart device, whenever/wherever they want it. The opportunities in biomedical sciences, bioengineering, bioinformatics, omics, and their application to food animal, production systems, rural health, One Health and companion animal will continue to grow and veterinary graduates should be at the planning table.
What’s the next significant breakthrough (revolution?) in veterinary medicine?
EG: Telehealth/telemedicine, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, virtual reality, other technologies.
CH: I believe telemedicine will change how the public accesses veterinary care and precision medicine will change the breadth of treatment options and will facilitate disease cures that were once impossible.
CJ: Changes in the way data are collected, analyzed, and interpreted will lead to development of new technology and new systems of practice. And yet, success in practice will always come down to a person’s skills in developing the relationship between a veterinarian, client, and patient.
JJ: In food animal production systems, it will be the application of supercomputing/AI/big data and block chain, or a similar technology, all working together to produce a safe and secure food supply for the USA and the world.
Personalized pet medicine, partnered with AI and/or telemedicine, rapid decentralized diagnostics, therapeutics and monitoring, all driven by technology, wearable devices, new platforms and the ever-increasing human-animal bond, will change the way we interact with our clients, continue to provide more information about our pets, and drive the value that companion animals bring into our homes and communities.
Are we, as a profession, adequately dealing with issues related to private practice ownership?
EG: We, as a profession, are certainly paying attention to private practice ownership, including that related to the consolidation of veterinary practices. Veterinary colleges are providing much more training in financial literacy and other business knowledge and skills than ever before, including demonstration of the financial advantages of practice ownership. With that said, we are also pleased at the breadth of exciting opportunities for graduates today, such as flexible schedules, part-time practice, and remote work locations. This flexibility allows veterinarians to find the career models that function well for them at any point in their work life.
CH: I don’t think we are. We need to do a better job providing students and early-career veterinarians with business skills and the appropriate mentorship needed to facilitate business ownership and transition of private practices from one veterinarian to another.
CJ: Changes in economics, markets, workforce, and data assimilation/analytics will exert changes in the profession and in practice ownership. Corporate practice systems vary widely, but all require the ability of a veterinarian to work within a specified administrative/business model. These models are well suited for the professional needs of some graduates. Private practice will continue to provide opportunities for professional and personal success by being highly responsive to local markets, service-driven, and engaged professionally with other private practices in aspects of purchasing power, capitalization of major equipment, and human resource management. Economic opportunity will continue to drive change, and our graduates must be ready to work in a constantly evolving environment.
JJ: This is a complicated question. As a profession, probably not in a cohesive fashion. And when I say profession, I mean all of us. For the most part, in academia, perhaps our admissions criteria haven’t really sought out entrepreneurial/business minds. That narrows the pool. Second, historically speaking, while in veterinary school, academia has not taught a great deal of finance—personal, business, and practice ownership. Lastly, years ago, graduates didn’t have the debt burden they do now, so practice ownership was a bit easier. It is still totally do-able now, but young graduates must be intentional about budgeting, and some practice owners are aiding in intentional transitional plans. Across the ecosystem, everyone is working on new ideas to address this—from admissions committees to business courses (or extra ones) embedded in the curriculum, from private practices with intentional-designed, scale-up buy-in plans, to the private bank lenders.
What’s your best idea for addressing new graduates’ debt?
EG: There is no simple solution, yet collectively we can make a difference. Employers, veterinary colleges, organized veterinary medicine, and the students themselves all play a role. Veterinarians hiring new graduates can offer higher salaries. The figure has been shared that $2000 more in salary can service $50,000 in debt. That is an accomplishable figure. Some practices are offering creative loan repayment benefits. Other local, state, and national loan repayment and loan forgiveness plans exist, such as those associated with public service. While veterinary colleges rarely control their tuition and fees, because tuition and fees are usually regulated by the university or the state, they can offer training in business and finances throughout the curriculum in a progressive manner, such as financial literacy early in the curriculum and practice management, practice ownership, negotiations, etc., later in the curriculum. Veterinary colleges are devoting much time to raising money for student scholarships through philanthropy. The AVMA and the A AVMC are developing financial literacy tools accessible to students. The students can increase their financial literacy in a number of ways and can minimize the money they borrow. Again, this is a complicated, multifaceted issue that must be addressed in an ongoing manner by all.
CH: There is not one single idea that best addresses this issue. It needs to be a combination of training our students to be fiscally responsible, striving to increase student scholarships and loan repayment forgiveness programs, and placing value on our education and work as evidenced by what we charge for our services.
CJ: Student debt is a symptom of a complex problem. A multifaceted, balanced approach is needed. Here are eight important components:
a. student training in personal management/economic viability (i.e., ensuring careful borrowing/judicious spending),
b. ongoing educational review/reform (i.e., improving educational efficiency without reducing quality),
c. placing graduates in the best position to succeed (having a competency-based, responsive, relevant, well-managed curriculum),
d. mentoring/networking (i.e., the entire profession has a stake in introducing new veterinarians to their networks),
e. supporting business models that favor entrepreneurship and practice ownership (supporting practitioners through excellent CE and referral services, and expanding opportunities for training in business principles),
f. placing veterinarians in a variety of fields that diversify their economic opportunities and provide an appropriate level of pay for their veterinary expertise,
g. advocating for federal/state legislation favorable to higher education and affordability, and h. cultivating a strong base of philanthropic support for academic scholarships. Sources of support should include individuals, corporations, and industry cooperatives.
JJ: You cannot have a conversation about the challenges in veterinary higher education today without the topic of student debt coming up. Veterinary medicine is not alone; in fact, student loans are the #1 non-housing debt in the USA. Some have questioned the sustainability of our traditional higher educational models. However, I believe the institution of higher education holds great value—for the learner, for the states or regions it serves, and for society as a whole. The approach to the issue requires activation of the whole ecosystem that surrounds the learner, from undergraduate to new employee and beyond. There is no silver bullet, and all of the very smart people that have been meeting at summits and meetings around this issue tell us just that.
I would say that the learner of the future might just choose a streamlined, technology-rich, low overhead, lower cost, specific track in veterinary medicine, where she/he can learn at their own pace, pick up their credentials, get through quicker, and enter the workforce earlier. It’s already happening with other professions.
What keeps you awake at night? What from a global health standpoint scares you the most?
EG: One thing that scares me is that we in the veterinary profession will focus on the challenges rather than the opportunities. A specific example is leveraging technologies in our exponentially changing world, with telehealth/telemedicine being just one component. Digital medicine will occur; in fact, it is progressing at a staggering rate. At the recent Veterinary Innovation Summit at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, the first four speakers about digital health were non-veterinarians. They said, “We prefer to work with veterinarians, but we will not wait on you.” That is a reality check and a call to action. Veterinarians must lead or they will be led.
From a global health standpoint, I believe we all worry about feeding the growing world population and about the real, pending threat of a global pandemic. Veterinarians have an essential role to play in both.
CH: The need for better coordination across the various aspects of One Health. Whether we are facing a threat to food security, a highly contagious zoonotic disease, or the impact of our lifestyle choices on environmental health, if we do not come together across professions, disciplines, national borders, and cultures to collectively address these threats, we will see more and more catastrophic consequences. We must engage in thoughtful dialogue, evidence-based approaches to problems, and a clear plan for workforce development.
CJ: I am always concerned about maintaining appropriate responses and deterrents to the potential introduction of foreign animal diseases and the threat of human-induced calamities (e.g., highly pathogenic avian influenza, food and mouth disease, BSE, chemical/biological terrorism, and others). I am also concerned about the importance of fulfilling the veterinarian’s obligation to society to mitigate and manage situations that jeopardize animal health, public health & safety, domestic food supply, and international trade.
JJ: Global food safety and security and what I like to call the six Ts, which I will identify in a minute.
First, the global population is projected to be adding 1 million people per week for the next 40 years; we need to produce more food over the next 40 years than during the last 500 years. Veterinarians have always been and will continue to be integral in ensuring that the world’s population has access to food and that food is safe.
Now, the six Ts, each of which is amplified to a level never before seen on our planet: Trade, Tourism, Transport, Terrorism, Technology and Travel/migration. It does not take long for one to muster a long list of how each of these intersect the pivotal role the veterinarian plays in society.