Letter from the Director - September 2016

September, 2016

Training Veterinary Public Health Professionals

Recent outbreaks of infectious diseases, including highly pathogenic avian influenza and Zika virus, as well as occupational health challenges faced by farm workers and ongoing challenges of antimicrobial resistance, demonstrate the continued need for well-trained veterinary public health professionals. 

The University of Minnesota’s Veterinary Public Health and Preventive Medicine Residency Program is one way we deliver this type of training, which includes two years of residential training and employment at the University of Minnesota. Can we also provide training for individuals around the globe? With flexibility for professionals at all stages of their careers? What should be the focus of this training? 

Some of our key partners have helped us answer these questions. Food industry and government listening sessions conducted at the University of Minnesota in the past several years identified strong interest from these employers in hiring professionals who demonstrate mastery in key areas that complement disciplinary expertise:

  • Breadth of understanding of food systems, threats to those systems, and policy-making
  • Executive communications, leadership skills, and the ability to work as members of high-performing, interdisciplinary, and cross-sectoral teams

To address the need for training in these areas, four University of Minnesota colleges, with support from MnDRIVE Global Food Ventures funding, developed the Food Systems Leadership Certificate Program. Strong interest in this program has been generated over the past two years, and expanded program development is warranted.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has identified key competencies for veterinarians working in official veterinary services roles worldwide (Advanced OIE Competencies). To address the need for training in OIE areas of focus, the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety is developing a training program. Led by Andres Perez, associate professor and Endowed Chair for Global Animal Health and Food Safety, with partners in Latin America (the ProgRESSVet Program), the training program features flexible web-based modules and in-person training as part of an OIE Advanced Competencies Certificate Program.

Also under development at CAHFS is a professional master’s degree program to develop leaders to serve in various roles in government agencies, industry organizations, companies, academic institutions, and intergovernmental organizations involved in protecting public, animal, and environmental health and creating safe, affordable, and secure food at local, national, and international levels. This competency-based graduate program will provide training for adult learners in flexible educational formats.

I am excited to be part of these efforts as CAHFS continues to work with partners to provide training for the next generation of public health professionals to address the complex animal health and food safety challenges of the future.