In The Spotlight

From the Dean

Advocate for Community Health

Yesterday, while delivering an Ethics and Law lecture to a full classroom of attentive freshman veterinary students, I discussed the AVMA’s Nine Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics. The eighth principle can be paraphrased as “advocate for community health.” Our conversation evolved into a discussion of the popular concept of herd immunity as it relates to COVID-19. I pointed out that every time herd immunity is discussed by epidemiologists and physicians, it is an affirmation of veterinary medicine as a pillar of public health. And who is in a better position to practice the principles and adapt to the nuances of generating herd immunity — and more importantly achieving herd health — than a veterinarian?

Principles of herd protection are in full force on the Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine campus as 510 veterinary students and nearly 100 graduate students returned to campus for fall semester. Energy and enthusiasm are palpable in the Veterinary Education Center these days after nearly 18 months of partial separation and hybrid online delivery. We have strongly encouraged students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and we have achieved vaccination compliance of over 70%, doubling the state’s overall vaccination rate. We’ve invested in air quality improvements, facilitation of personal biosafety practices and mandatory face coverings indoors. With these protections, we have returned to full classrooms and full in-person delivery of courses. After two weeks of classes, it would be safe to say that we’re back and we’re learning to live with COVID-19 while we reassemble what makes Auburn veterinary medicine so unique — our people.

I’ve surveyed the academic literature to explore strategies for emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic in a stronger position than when we entered it in March 2020. Regardless of the source, the advice is remarkably similar and typically divides into three steps:

(1) look back: which strengths have allowed us to withstand the pandemic thus far?

(2) take stock: what tools and skills do we have now that will allow us to achieve our future goals?

(3) chart the course: focus on the college’s mission, vision and goals for the next 5, 10 and even 20 years.

Using an Olympics track & field analogy: we will strive to be first off the blocks, set an ambitious pace, finish strong and win. In this issue of the Auburn Veterinarian, you will quickly learn that great progress has been made in the College of Veterinary Medicine during the pandemic. There is much to report. In true Auburn fashion, we are optimistic and poised for continued success.

Thank you for your interest in Auburn Veterinary Medicine and for accompanying us on this journey.

Dean Johnson's Signature

Dean Calvin Johnson '86

Dean Johnson Dean Johnson

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