Executive Council Addresses Veterinary Leadership Development at Texas A&M

On June 22-23, 2005, top leaders of the veterinary medical profession met at Texas A&M University for a two day summit. This historic meeting brought together for the first time, executive leaders from all segments of the veterinary medical profession to discuss the critical need for development of future leaders in the veterinary medical profession. As the External Advisory Council for the new Center for Executive Leadership in Veterinary Medical Education at Texas A&M University, this blue-ribbon panel focused on strategies for meeting the expanding leadership roles of veterinarians in private practice, industry, public health and education and how to address the shortages of veterinary leaders in specific areas.


“The applications for a veterinary medical education are much broader today than they were ten years ago,” said Dr. E. Dean Gage, director of Texas A&M University’s Center for Executive Leadership in Veterinary Medical Education. “There is a compelling need for veterinary medical professionals to address the demands that we are facing in the coming years. Through this inaugural meeting of the advisory council, today’s leaders in veterinary medicine have made a strong commitment to help us develop the leaders of tomorrow and to create a model program to share with others,” added Gage.

“The challenges facing society offer great opportunities for veterinarians to make a difference using their professional education to address critical areas of human and animal health,” said H. Richard Adams, Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M. “We are proud to be working with executive leaders from all segments of the veterinary medical profession to ensure that leadership development is incorporated into the training for all future veterinarians.”

Fundamental to the advisory council’s mission is identifying major issues facing the veterinary medical profession and society as related to the education and leadership training of future veterinarians. Council members are developing opportunities within their areas of expertise for students to further their veterinary medical education, to expand the role of coaching and mentoring students in veterinary medical education, and to broaden the opportunities for veterinary students to gain valuable experience as part of their formal education and professional development.

“We are developing a ‘train-the-trainer’ program to coach faculty in areas within the existing veterinary medical curriculum where communication, interpersonal relations and leadership skills can be taught,” said Gage. At Texas A&M, veterinary medical students receive instruction on leadership, communications, team building and ethics in the first semester, and take a practice management course in their third year. Several business, management and leadership electives are in the development stages.

“Throughout their clinical rotations, students learn about interpersonal communications, conflict management, team leadership, business practices and the responsibilities that they have as members of the veterinary medical profession,” said Gage. Extracurricular activities including the Professional Development Seminar Series co-sponsored with the TAMU Student Veterinary Business Association offer additional opportunities to hear presentations on leadership and management topics. More than 20 professional student organizations provide a broad selection of leadership experiences for the students. “All of these experiential and clinical opportunities are essential to the professional and leadership development of our students since leadership development has been shown to be 80% experience,” Gage further stated.

The advisory council is also committed to helping the college develop a career center to include an effective website about career and leadership opportunities and special on-campus programs for the entire professional student body. They plan to create a Web-based program that includes a list of new and expanded summer jobs, summer internships, international externships, and corporate/professional and government externships that provide veterinary medical students with hands-on, real-world leadership experiences. The center will also focus on expanding the opportunities for students to pursue graduate and specialty training.

Although this unprecedented meeting took place at Texas A&M, the objective is to make an immediate and lasting impact throughout the veterinary medical profession with support from other veterinary medical organizations and institutions. The possibility of holding a national summit on veterinary medical leadership development is being considered.

Strong and active veterinary leadership programs are also offered at Washington State and Michigan State but Gage sees a greater need. “The Texas A&M University center and council members look forward to working with other veterinary medical schools to create broad opportunities for all veterinary students to develop their leadership and communication skills.”

In it’s second year, Texas A&M’s Center for Executive Leadership in Veterinary Medical Education has facilitated the development of DVM/PhD and DVM/MBA dual degree programs with almost 20 graduates from these programs thus far. Two milestone projects for students in the DVM/MBA program were the completion of The Economic Impact of Veterinary Medicine on the State of Texas report and the Compliance Study for the Texas A&M University Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Each group of DVM/MBA students is required to complete a business consulting project in some business segment related to veterinary medicine.

The next meeting of the External Advisory Council will be held on October 28, 2005, at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Council Members – Executive Council Veterinary Leadership

  • Ronald S. BrakkePresident – Brakke Consulting, Inc.
  • Justin SkalaPresident & COO – Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. (Colgate Palmolive, Inc.)
  • William TolerVice President – Iams (Proctor and Gamble, Inc.)
  • Dr. Kurt R. VenatorManager, Influential Marketing Group – Nestle-Purina Petcare, Inc.
  • Dr. Robert JonesPresident – Novartis Animal Health US, Inc.
  • Scott BormannVice President – Fort Dodge Animal Health, Inc.
  • Joerg OhlePresident & CEO – Bayer Animal Health, Inc.
  • Dr. David McGavinVice President of
    Biologicals R&D;
    – Pfizer Animal Health R&D;
  • Dr. Robert NordgrenHead of
    – Merial Animal Health, Inc. (Merck)
  • Ms. Paula StackSenior Director, Companion Animal – Schering-Plough Animal Health, Inc.
  • Dr. Randy LaFevreVice President of
    Professional Relations
    – Banfield, The Pet Hospital
  • Dr. Jeff EdwardsHead, Anatomic
    – VeterinaryClinicsAmerica, Antech Diagnostics, Inc.
  • Dr. Roberta RelfordVice President/Chief
    of Worldwide Pathology & Specialty Consulting Services
    – IDEXX Laboratories, Inc.
  • Jennifer FialaSenior Editor – DVM Magazine
  • Dr. Kenneth N. GrayChairman of Med.
    & Surg.
    – UT MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • Dr. Janet DonlinAsst. Executive Vice
    – American Veterinary Medical Association
  • Dr. Lawrence E. HeiderExecutive
    – Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
  • Dr. John W. AlbersExecutive
    – American Animal Hospital Association
  • David L. FoleyExecutive Director – American Association of Equine Practitioners
  • Dr. M. Gatz Riddell, Jr.Executive Vice
    – American Association of Bovine Practitioners
  • Dr. Roland LenarduzziPresident – Texas Veterinary Medical Association