ACZM Newsletter August 2017 Vol 10 Issue 2

Presidents Letter

Our ACZM President, Sharon Deem

As I write my last President letter for the ACZM Newsletter, I have been able to carve out a few minutes to step away from a busy 21st century professional (and personal) life to reflect on the College. It is clear that ACZM is experiencing changes. These changes sometimes daunt me, especially as “the one in charge” for a few more months. However, I must confess I can say that I am daunted by the changes occurring in almost all facets of the world today. Maybe I am thinking of these changes too deeply and in a Darwinian theory of evolution by natural selection kind of way since I am writing this from my field site in the Galapagos. A site where I have worked over the past decade and have witnessed incredible, and often challenging, changes.

We as a group of passionate veterinarians that care deeply for the health and welfare and conservation of non-domestic species are facing changes; some good but many that bring challenges to our profession. I think each of us can relate to the idea that we are living in a period of great change with direct impacts on our work whether we work in private practice, academia, zoos/aquariums, NGOs, governmental agencies or …. you get the picture. For the College, some of these challenges are simply a result of our success and the rapid growth in the number of Diplomates. As a member or the Executive Officer Team for the past six years, I have seen how running a College with rapid growth leads to an increase in time commitment to fulfill duties and responsibilities for officers, committee chairs and members. I will share some of these duties here, but wish to first thank all of you that do so much for our College.

Since the last President letter your officers and many committee chairpersons have worked diligently on issues near and dear to most all of us. During the first 6 months of 2017 we have been looking at compliant ACZM residency programs and how to make sure we are doing the right thing for both the residents in these programs and for the College itself. We need to continue to provide the best training programs for the future generations of ACZM College members. As the diversity of our College changes so have compliant ACZM residency programs. I think these changes are exciting and I hope that we as a College will embrace the changes as reflective of the variety of roles that ACZM Diplomates hold. We also have been working hard to evaluate the ACZM examination. To this end, we have a contract with Schroeder Measurement Technologies, Inc. (same group who did the Job Task Analysis for the College) to perform an exam validation. Results of the validation will be available over the next 1 ½ years. As I step into the position of immediate past president, I will work with other officers and the exam committee chairperson, Dr. Jennifer D’Agnostino, to ensure validation recommendations are implemented appropriately.

One area that I feel we have not done as well as I had hoped when I first became secretary in 2012 is in getting the value of ACZM out to the world – think big! We are an impressive group of accomplished veterinarians that have much to contribute to the health care of the planet. We need to get this message out to the heads of the organizations we work for (or better yet become the heads of these organizations as some of us are doing!), but also out to our clients, deans, the media, policy makers and our next-door neighbors. As an example (not to toot my own horn), I received the Trustees Award from the Saint Louis Academy of Science in April this year, the first time ever for a veterinarian. Thrilled and honored to receive the award the Academy said it was because of the work that I was doing to help bridge the human medical, veterinary, and ecological communities locally and globally. In a very human medicine centric city, it was great to have a platform to let our science colleagues know about the kinds of work that ACZM Diplomates are doing and the importance of this work. We each can share our work within these communities and help to get ACZM on the radar.

Every day in our professional capacities, we have a chance to educate and share the value of ACZM and our mission. As I wrap up this summer’s field season in Galapagos I am reminded how important ACZM board certified veterinarians are for advancing health care around the globe. This year, Dr. Samuel Rivera from Zoo Atlanta and I joined forces on an impressive (thanks Sam!) field based endoscopic study for sexing juvenile tortoises as one part of a larger Galapagos Tortoise program. Our combined skillsets helped to move the understanding of tortoise ecology forward. With us was a fourth year University of Illinois veterinary student. Having a few days camping together I was thrilled to hear him say how so many veterinary students think highly of ACZM boarded veterinarians and aspire to be one. We are role models!

Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent that survive, but the one most able to change”. We are living in changing times and we, as a College, must embrace this change and adapt to be able to transform current challenges into opportunities. I know the 2018 Executive Officers, Drs. Kay Backues as President, Jennifer Langan as Vice-President, Lisa Harrenstien as Treasurer and one of the two great candidates running for Secretary, will ensure that ACZM is well posed to continue to adapt and change with the times.

Sharon L. Deem, DVM, PhD, Dipl ACZM

ACZM President

Is the ACZM Exam Getting Harder?

No one is arguing that the ACZM qualifying and certifying exams are easy, they are definitively a challenge to prepare for and successfully make it through. However, recently there has been a lot of discussion about whether the exam has been getting more challenging. One ACZM Diplomate and Exam Committee Chair, Jennifer D'Agostino, investigated one aspect of this question in a very objective way. She evaluated the amount of recommended reading material and how it has changed from 2006 (one decade ago) to the most recent exam in 2016 and we are sharing a synopsis of her results here.

Jen (we should all take a moment to thank her for doing this) painstakingly went through all the recommended reading for day 1 (qualifying) and day 2 (certifying) exams for each year. She split all reading material into textbooks and journal editions and compared both the number of resources as well as the page counts between the exam one decade ago to the most recent exam.

First, we will look at the larger scale comparison of how many resources (textbooks and journal editions) were on the recommended reading list 10 years ago for the qualifying exam compared to this most recent examination year. The collected data shows that the more recent reading list has less recommended resources when compared to the recommended reading list from 2006.

Recommended Number of Resources (Textbooks and Journal Editions) for 2006 vs 2016 for the ACZM Qualifying Examination

Next, we can compare the actual page counts from ALL those resources (textbooks and journal editions) between the 2006 and the 2016 recommended reading lists for the qualifying exam to more precisely reflect the amount of reading that test takers are recommended to perform. The results show that in addition to having fewer numbers of resources, that the 2016 qualifying examination had fewer pages of recommended reading compared to the 2006 exam.

Number of Pages from Recommended Resources (Textbooks and Journal Editions) for 2006 vs 2016 for the ACZM Qualifying Examinations

As we look at the data collected and assimilated by Jen, we have learned a few things.

  • There are many ways that we can continue to measure and analyze the ACZM exam. The data presented here is a small slice of what we can objectively evaluate and indicates that the number of resources and the number of pages on the recommended reading list has decreased in the past 10 years.
  • The examination committee has been responding to the concerns regarding the rapidly growing body of information in our field and is reviewing and changing the recommended reading list to ensure that it is an ever evolving document. The current (and several previous) recommended reading lists can be found in the Documents tab at ACZM.org.

ACZM Exam Construction Meeting Update

This March, the ACZM Examination Committee was once again hosted by the Hogle Zoo in beautiful Salt Lake City, UT for the Examination Construction Meeting. What is it that is accomplished at these meetings? Well here are a few photo highlights:

Left top: Thank you to the Hogle Zoo and ACZM Diplomate Erika Crook for hosting the 2017 ACZM Exam Construction Meeting. Right Top: Writing, reviewing, rewriting and rereviewing questions for both the Qualifying and Certifying exams is EXHAUSTING work! ACZM Diplomates Matt Kinney (taking a break), Shannon Cerveny, and Erika Crook are working on terrestrial mammal questions. Bottom Left: The ACZM Examination Committee Chair and Fearless leader, Jennifer D'Agostino. Bottom Middle: The entire recommended reading list is present at the meeting for reference material while writing exam questions. Bottom Right: After several long days of hard work, the team enjoys a much needed break at a fantastic local restaurant.

ACZM Diplomates at Large in 2017

ACZM Diplomates perform some pretty amazing things around the country and around the world. Here are just a few that have achieved some AMAZING accomplishments over the past year:

  • Dr. Don Neiffer was recently awarded the degree of Master of Health Sciences in One Health from the Department of Environmental and Global Health, College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida. Dr. Neiffer’s program culminated with an independent research project entitled “A retrospective study of selected disease seroprevalence and relationships in free-ranging warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) populations in South Africa: Implications for disease transmission at the human/livestock/wildlife interface”. This study as well as a related warthog anesthesia project were completed during a trip to South Africa this past spring. Read more about Dr Neiffer's work HERE. Congratulations Don!
  • Dr. Sharon Deem was recently recognized with a Trustees Outstanding Scientists Award from the St Louis Academy of Science for her career long dedication to the One Health Initiative. Read more about this prestigious award HERE. Congratulations Sharon!

Do you know an ACZM Diplomate that has achieved something exceptional and would like their accomplishment highlighted here? Email Krista.keller@live.com.

See You at AAZV

The 2017 49th Annual AAZV Conference is right around the corner (September 22nd - 29th) and there are a few highlights for the ACZM community. Don't miss these times/dates!

  • 9/23 - 9/24 ACZM Exam Prep and Study Course. Click here for more information.
  • 9/24 ACZM Business Meeting and Member Reception (2-5pm)
  • 9/25 AAZV and ACZM Sponsored Student Reception

And while you are learning at this year's sessions make sure to thank the vast numbers of ACZM Diplomates serving as Chairpersons in the various sessions this year! Check out this year's complete schedule by CLICKING HERE.

Zoological medicine is a discipline that integrates principles of ecology, conservation, and veterinary medicine and applies them to wild animals within natural and artificial environments. The American College of Zoological Medicine is dedicated to excellence in furthering the health and well being of captive and free-ranging wild animals.

Have some photos, stories, research, etc that you want highlighted in the next ACZM News Letter? Email krista.keller@live.com

Created By
Krista Keller


Created with images by Mani300 - "rhino magdeburg zoo" • GregGilbert1 - "Alligator" • PublicDomainPictures - "animal blue creature" • MichaelSehlmeyer - "animals animal portrait ferret" • Bergadder - "cape crane balearica regulorum crane"

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