Anticipating innovation and inclusivity

Maccabe presented at the CAHFS Hueston Speaker Series May 3rd.

Andrew Maccabe looks to veterinary medicine’s future

As technology automates tedious tasks, enhances scientists’ understanding of biology, and produces extraordinary medical breakthroughs, it’s more important than ever that the training that veterinary medicine students receive prepares them for today’s rapidly evolving field. Andrew Maccabe, DVM, MPH, JD, chief executive officer of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), spoke about the future of veterinary medical education at the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety’s Hueston Speaker Series at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) in May.

“The future of healthcare, the future of food, the future of animal companionship—all of these areas directly involve veterinary medicine,” says Maccabe.

Technology will soon have a prominent role in healthcare, including veterinary medicine, and will usher in new roles for industry professionals. Maccabe predicts remote biosensors and wearable technology will create a constant feed of information—for example, how much a dog is eating—for future veterinarians to interpret. Maccabe says it’s important that educational programs train students how to work with the massive amount of data such technology will produce. He anticipates that routine surgeries, which are commonly performed by veterinarians today, will be almost exclusively done by robots in tomorrow’s clinics.

“When we look at what we need to teach students for their careers, which will span the next 45 years, the role of the professional is going to change. Instead of being the doer—such as performing surgery—the role of the veterinarian and health care professional will be managing teams, developing patient-client relationships, and using creativity and innovation to develop new technology,” says Maccabe.

He also predicts a shift in the longevity of academia in students’ lives. Rather than paying tuition for a four-year program, students in the coming years may instead purchase a career-long subscription that allows access to continuing education suited to emerging skills throughout their careers. Macaabe also says classrooms will likely shift from a lecture setting to individualized, one-on-one training. “Through virtual and augmented reality, students will have an individual personal instructor at every step of the way. An instructor will be able to have an avatar interacting with an individual learner.” says Maccabe.

But the future of veterinary medicine is hopefully not just technologically advanced—it’s diverse as well. “The evidence is clear that more diverse teams make better decisions and more diverse healthcare teams have better outcomes,” says Maccabe. “When a group of people is working on complex and non-routine problems, such as diagnosing and treating conditions—what vets do everyday—people from different backgrounds will analyze and solve problems in different ways.”

Since its launch in 2005, AAVMC’s DiVersity Matters initiative has helped increase the number of students from racially and/or ethnically underrepresented backgrounds currently enrolled in veterinary medicine programs by 134 percent.

Diversified critical thinking is also beneficial when facilitating collaboration between areas of expertise within AAVMC partnerships. “We’re finding ways to train medical, public health, dental, and veterinary medicine students together. If they learn to work together as students they will better work together as professionals.”

Maccabe with Trevor Ames, DVM, MS, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine
Maccabe with Trevor Ames, DVM, MS, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine

Maccabe also delivered a commencement speech to graduates of the CVM in May. He spoke not only about the range of career opportunities available, but also the importance of being open to new ideas, something Maccabe says the University of Minnesota fosters in its curriculum. He also addressed mental health and told graduates to be mindful of their own wellbeing, a growing issue in the field.

The AAVMC works with member institutions across the United States. What makes the University of Minnesota’s veterinary medicine program stand out, Maccabe says, is the school’s emphasis on public health and global partnerships.

“There’s a sense of humility and being able to learn from others and that has informed the curriculum at the University of Minnesota.”

The Dr. Will Hueston Speaker Series features key speakers in the areas of animal health and food safety. The speaker series was named to honor the legacy of Will Hueston, DVM, PhD, University of Minnesota Professor Emeritus and the first director of CAHFS. Hueston continues to be an advocate and champion of interdisciplinary collaboration in the areas of public health, epidemiology, capacity building, and policy.

See all - One to One Newsletter: June 2019

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CAHFS News is a compilation of current topics and news updates in animal health, food safety, and veterinary public health.