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World of Veterinary Medicine Changing, Beaver Tells Graduates

Posted May 12, 2005

Thursday, May 12, 2005 - COLLEGE STATION - The world of veterinary medicine is changing faster than at any time in its history, Bonnie Beaver, professor of veterinary medicine and current president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, said Thursday during commencement ceremonies at Texas A&M University.

Beaver, addressing the 123 graduates who received their degrees from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said "The profession is changing faster than ever, and let me give you an example. A high school counselor told me that 'girls could not become veterinarians.' I became one of two women in my veterinary class and had job offers of significantly less money than my male colleagues were offered.

"Since then, I have received invitations to present seminars around the world and on 9-11, I watched CNN and the BBC from a hotel room in Rio de Janeiro where I was presenting a paper on dog bite prevention. Last July, the little girl from rural Minnesota who was told she couldn't be a veterinarian became president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  The profession is changing."

Beaver said that bioterrorism will be a challenge for the class of 2005.

"After a simulation exercise of the introduction of foot and mouth disease, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Dr. Ann Venimin said, 'We know that veterinarians will be among the first responders to acts of bioterrorism,'" Beaver noted.

"Not only will we be dependent on first responders to control the outbreak, we will be very dependent on veterinarians to educate the public about what is going on.  Back in the 'dark ages' we would roll our eyes at the mere mention of a foreign animal disease - it only existed in some other world.

"Now that other world may be used against us."

Among the 123 graduates receiving diplomas was Pat Ryan, a Houston resident who at age 57 is the oldest person ever in Texas to receive a veterinary medicine degree.  Ryan plans to work at a small animal clinic in Houston.

Beaver said the bond between humans and animals will always be a strong one, but even it undergoes changes.

"The human-animal bond is a double-edged sword," she believes.

"Animals are often called family members, and that of course attracts vultures who want to make owners into 'guardians' and others who want to sue for the intangibles like emotional distress.

"Until that owner is willing to pay the veterinarian an amount equal to that paid a surgeon, anesthesiologist and hospital for a human hysterectomy, an animal is really not an equal. While there are owners who are willing to pay anything for their animal, most put limits on their spending.

"Our profession, and thus our clients, cannot afford the malpractice insurance premiums that our physician colleagues have to spend which result from unrealistic legal settlements.

"We are a small profession," she added.

"Every veterinarian in the United States could fit into Kyle Field with seats left over.  But that makes every voice important."

Contact Information:
Angela G. Clendenin
Director, Communications & Public Relations
Ofc - (979) 862-2675
Cell - (979) 739-5718

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