At Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine (TCSVM) and elsewhere, approximately 85% of graduates begin their professional lives as clinicians in small and large animal practices. Practitioners frequently encounter animals with zoonotic diseases that can be spread to their human owners. Because of this, veterinary practitioners are inherent members of the public health system because actions they take to vaccinate animal companions and to educate clients can directly affect the health of animal owners. This may be the most obvious connection to human health but there are many others that involve infectious and noninfectious diseases and conditions. In spite of this, however, veterinarians are not often viewed as partners in the public health system.
In fact, with a few notable exceptions, e.g., emerging zoonoses and bioterrorist agents, it’s almost as if public health and veterinary public health are proceeding on parallel tracks. The goal of this class is to begin thinking about why and how that has happened, and to begin to change that.
2. Learning Objectives
At the end of class, students should be able to:
Define public health and the scope of the public health system
Discuss the relationship between public health and population health
Discuss the similarities and differences between population health and clinical medicine
Describe the general organization of the public health system and the distribution of veterinarians at all levels and all agencies
Know which websites to go to for information about public health and veterinary medicine
Discuss the distribution of national funding for key elements of the public health system and for prevention activities
Articulate your opinions about the “Lifeboat” article
Briefly describe the frameworks that underlie the function of public health
3. Required Reading
Leighton FA. Veterinary Medicine and the Lifeboat Test: A Perspective on the Social Relevance of the Veterinary Profession in the 21st Century. Can Vet J 2004; 45:259-63.
McGinnis JM and WH Foege. Actual causes of death in the United States. JAMA 1993; 270:2207-12.
CDC. Ten Great Public Health Achievements – United States, 1900-1999 . MMWR 1999; 48:241-243.
Noah DL, Grayson JK, and LC Caudle III. Ten great veterinary public health/preventive medicine achievements in the United States, 1901 to 2000. In Symposium: Public Health in the New Millennium. JAVMA 2000; 217:1834-1836.
JH Steele. The history of public health and veterinary public service. In Symposium: Public Health in the New Millennium. JAVMA 2000; 217:1813-1821.