June 28, 1996
"In the future, owners will receive a much higher level of care for their pets or production-animal herds," says Dr. Hugh B. Lewis. "As a result, animals will be healthier and live longer. Veterinary medical practices will focus more on disease prevention and the health and longevity of pets within the family unit, because many people consider their animals to be part of the family. Veterinarians will move their focus away from primarily curing sickness and healing injury.
"Veterinary care will be much more accessible because barriers will have been removed -- location will be more convenient, and practices will be open longer hours and more on weekends. No longer will animals have to be sick to be seen by a veterinarian."
Lewis, 54, is stepping down June 30 after 10 years as dean of the only veterinary school in Indiana. He'll become vice president of practice development at Medical Management International Inc. in Portland, Ore. It's the parent company of VetSmart Pet Hospital and Health Centers, a nationally distributed companion-animal practice system. VetSmart is a new concept in veterinary medicine because it represents one practice but with multiple locations, Lewis explains. Its philosophy is preventive medicine, with an emphasis on pets as members of the family, he says.
Other future changes Lewis predicts for veterinary medicine:
Lewis says Purdue's School of Veterinary Medicine is at the leading edge of many of these changes. For example, other veterinary schools are emulating Purdue by revising their curricula to produce members of a veterinary team rather than a single James Herriott-model veterinarian who tries to be all things to all creatures. The Purdue school also emphasizes the study of the bond between people and animals and increasingly is putting computers into its learning environment.
With its focus on the future and a new $34 million addition, the Purdue school has the goal of becoming the best veterinary educational institution in the world by the year 2001, Lewis says.
"The faculty and staff really believe we can do that," he says. "The one thing I'm proudest of during my tenure as dean is the development of a 'can-do' attitude on the part of the school's faculty, staff and students. We are committed to being innovative in everything we do. When other veterinary schools emulate what we have pioneered, then we'll know that we are the leaders."
As an example, Lewis points to the state-of-the-art 65,000-square-foot addition to the veterinary school complex, which was completed in fall 1995. It's the first major update of facilities since the school was established in 1959.
In one of the addition's new units is the Equine Sports Medicine Center, which has a new high-speed equine treadmill. That treadmill is one of the most sophisticated of its type in the world because it can be programmed by computer; most equine treadmills are manually operated. Purdue veterinary school researchers now can detect lameness and respiratory problems in horses that might not be diagnosed otherwise.
"You can't be at the leading edge of equine medicine if you don't have this kind of technology," Lewis says. "You attract the best people by giving them the best tools and environment to work in. In turn, they help us provide the very best support to Indiana's veterinary profession and horse owners."
A native of Wales, United Kingdom, Lewis came to Purdue in 1986 after spending 10 years in various administrative positions with SmithKline and French Laboratories (now SmithKline Beecham), the last as senior director of pathology and toxicology. During his career he also worked for a mixed practice in England, had a consulting practice in veterinary clinical pathology, and was an associate professor of clinical pathology in Purdue's veterinary school before joining SmithKline and French.
In July Lewis will finish a one-year term as president of the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges. He belongs to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Veterinary Medical Association. He also is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists.
Lewis will be succeeded July 1 as dean by Dr. Alan H. Rebar. Rebar has been associate dean for research and head of the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology in the Purdue school.
One of 27 veterinary medical colleges in the United States, the Purdue school has approximately 260 veterinary students, 60 veterinary technology students, 90 graduate students and 80 faculty. Lewis says the school is best known for incorporating technology into teaching, its emphasis on internationalization, and revamping the curriculum so students can choose specific "tracks" to study, such as equine, food animals and small companion animals.
Source: Hugh Lewis, (765) 494-7608; Internet, email@example.com. After June 30, Lewis may be reached at
his Lafayette, Ind., home at (765) 474-6482 through July 13. After July 13, he can be reached via voice
mail at (503) 256-7299.
Writer: Ellen Rantz, (765) 494-2073; home, (765) 497-0345; Internet, firstname.lastname@example.org
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