Weekly companion animal news: January 3, 2022

Rowan University plans to open New Jersey’s first veterinary school

New Jersey’s Rowan University announced plans to establish the first school of veterinary medicine in the state. According to the announcement, the Rowan University School of Veterinary Medicine “will offer New Jersey’s first Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree, as well as additional degrees and training programs designed to shape the future of veterinary medicine and animal health care in the state.” The New Jersey legislature in November approved $75 million in funding to construct the school’s primary academic and clinical facility in Sewell. The school plans to welcome an inaugural class of 60 students in fall of 2025, pending approval from the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education. “With this investment, we will be able to keep our best and brightest veterinary students in New Jersey, and we will attract aspiring veterinarians from other states to study here as well,” said New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney. The United States currently has 33 accredited veterinary schools, five of which are on the East Coast, according to the announcement from Rowan University.

BluePearl launches wellness program for interns, residents and ER clinicians

BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital has launched a new program that offers interns, residents and ER clinicians the opportunity to receive wellness training and access to mental health resources. The program, called Clinicians-In-Training, was developed for participants in BluePearl’s emergency clinician training program, emERge. The new Clinicians-In-Training program was developed after BluePearl’s health and well-being team received feedback from interns showing the need for greater emphasis on intern, resident and ER clinician wellness. “The program will cover wellness topics such as managing expectations, imposter syndrome, moral distress, setting boundaries, and compassion fatigue,” according to the announcement. The program “will also introduce residents and interns to the mental health and wellness resources within the organization and assist in connecting them to a local mental health professional as needed. A simultaneous line of trainings and support will be provided to program directors, mentors, and hospital leadership,” according to BluePearl.

Corporate consolidators hold nearly 50% of U.S. companion animal practice revenue, Brakke estimates

After a busy year of merger activity in 2021, market share of corporate consolidators in the United States is close to 50% of all companion animal practice revenue, Brakke Consulting estimates. Brakke senior consultant John Volk told the VIN News Service that an estimated 800-1,000 independent companion animal practices in the United States were acquired by corporate consolidators in 2021, “a bit of an uptick from 2020, when we estimate somewhere between 700 and 800 practices were acquired by corporations.” Volk said about 25% of all U.S. companion animal practices are now owned by corporate consolidators. Since corporations tend to own larger practices than independent organizations, their 25% share would account for at least 40%, and maybe closer to 50%, of all client visits, he said. “In the last two years, there’s been a tremendous amount of M&A activity, and the prices being paid for practices have just skyrocketed,” Volk said. “If you’re a nice 6-year-old practice with three or four doctors, your wildest dreams are coming true for what your practice is worth.” At the same time, the Independent Veterinary Practitioners Association, founded in 2018, now records more than 500 members.

Veterinary support staff consider unionizing to improve pay

Support staff at an emergency veterinary care center in upstate New York are considering organizing after the facility was sold in 2021, a move they say has leveled further constraints on what was already a low-paying line of work. The effort to unionize is part of a growing trend. “I hear from veterinary workers multiple times a week who are interested in learning about organizing,” said Liz Hughston, president of the National Veterinary Professionals Union, which has supported worker organizing efforts at five veterinary hospitals on the West Coast since it was founded in 2017, one of which ended with a contract being ratified between workers and their employer. The Rochester City Newspaper reports.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition and Fidu offer free telehealth nutrition consultations for veterinary patients

Hill’s Pet Nutrition is partnering with telehealth company Fidu to offer primary care and specialty practice veterinarians free nutrition consultations for their patients. To receive a consultation—which is available for free “for a limited time,” according to the announcement—veterinarians can visit Fidu’s website to upload a patient’s relevant veterinary medical records and diet history, along with their nutrition questions. They can choose a video or telephone consultation, or a written report. “Individualized diet recommendations support an integral component of all veterinarians’ goals to extend and enrich the profound relationships between people and their pet family members,” said Dr. Stewart Morgan, a veterinary nutritionist at Hill’s and a veterinary nutrition consultant at Fidu.

Minecraft video game players will be able to run a dog day care

Dogtopia, a provider of dog day care, boarding and spa services, is offering a new “Doggie Daycare world” in the Minecraft video game. Minecraft players will be able to “take over a realistic dog day care, inspired by experts at Dogtopia,” according to the announcement. Among other things, players will hire staff and take care of dogs.