Watching clouds move over high-rise buildings in the dense urban landscape of Seattle. A very different sort of place than the cattails in my Palouse backyard. Two parts of Washington state, both important, both with their roles to fill.
My thoughts circle around how we work together statewide to train the veterinary specialists we need which is a win-win for our animal patients, their people, and the community of veterinarians who serve them. How will academic medicine—the way we train veterinarians and veterinary specialists at the college—sustain and be sustained by the business of veterinary medicine, in all its forms, in this driven urban environment? The competition for veterinary specialists such as cardiologists, neurologists and radiologists is intense. These specialists have undergone years of additional training, studied for difficult, tradition-laden board exams, and have delayed income generation. And so they fly into veterinary medicine with multiple job offers. They can take advantage of short work weeks, loan repayment, signing bonuses, financially incentivized work, and they can live wherever they want to live. I am happy for them and proud of their successes.
Now, in the Palouse, we have a teaching hospital. I believe we are an essential part of an equation to train the next generation of entry-level veterinarians and veterinary specialists. Our dedicated team of specialists choose academia because they love to teach. It is not always an easy choice, but it has historically been a good choice. With debt rising and the need for high-level veterinary care continually expanding, it is becoming an increasingly difficult choice for our trainees to make. Specialists in busy practices don’t always have the time to teach, they may not want to teach, and yet, I believe, they value teaching (and their teachers) and they value the next generation of specialists. How then do we work with partners in practice to develop the very best hybrid model of specialist education?
You won’t be surprised to learn that I, once again, think Washington State University has what it takes to lead innovative, hybrid education and training models. I love program building and embracing change, but I am also deeply committed to the academic mission and our land-grant heritage. I look forward to working with faculty and staff in our teaching hospital and statewide partners to find creative solutions to incorporate the realities of the business of veterinary medicine and embrace the need to teach, train, and develop many more great professionals. Washington, the state, and the university can get this done.
I think my mind has been focused on academic medicine in part because it is that time of year when we get to honor and celebrate our amazing alumni. It was a very inspiring few days highlighting their careers and hearing about their education here at WSU.
Dr. Dori Borjesson, Dean
WSU College of Veterinary Medicine