AAVMC Member Institution Food Animal Career
The AAVMC has been asked what veterinary colleges are doing to help graduate more individuals going into food animal medicine. This compilation was developed as a result of a request to the AAVMC member veterinary medical colleges and schools in the United States and Canada asking them to describe the programs they have in place to recruit, retain, and mentor veterinary medical students interested in food animal careers. AAVMC member institutions have many and varied programs and the descriptions below are useful when informing and educating public policy makers concerning this issue.
The recruitment and admissions process supports students from rural backgrounds. Many students are admitted from feeder schools with strong programs in agriculture and animal science. Fifty percent of the admissions process is based on academic scores and fifty percent is based on non-academic issues. Each year approximately $20,000 in scholarships are earmarked for students with a food animal interest.
The curriculum is broad-based, with opportunities to focus. Elective courses begin in the second semester of the curriculum, and electives related to food animal medicine are available. The College teaching dairy supports the caseload in addition to providing the opportunity to experience working in a milking parlor.
Externships and the eight-week preceptorship provide the opportunity to experience food animal practice away from the College. There is an active AABP Chapter (approximately 20 students attend the annual meeting), as well as active chapters of the Society of Theriogenology and small ruminant practice. Students compete for a place on the palpation team.
Colorado State University
Food Animal Veterinary Career Incentive Program (FAVCIP)*--The over reaching goal of this program is to create a sustainable source of future veterinarians for underserved disciplines and geographic regions central to the future of safe and successful food and fiber animal production. Undergraduate students with a strong interest in pursuing veterinary careers in food animal discipline will be encouraged to follow the FAVCIP curriculum and program requirements as they complete their Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Sciences at CSU. Students who qualify for this program will receive specialized academic and career counseling to facilitate enrollment in FAVCIP courses. FAVCIP students will apply to the Professional Veterinary Medical (PVM) program through the regular admissions process and will be expected to meet all regular preveterinary and application requirements. Criteria for admissions will be the same as for all other candidates; however, FAVCIP candidates will be eligible for five reserved positions in each class of the PVM program.
Non-Colorado resident students enrolled as undergraduates in FAVCIP may be eligible to convert their domicile to Colorado prior to applying to the PVM program. FAVCIP students admitted to the PVM program may qualify for full tuition scholarships from participating food and fiber animal producer organizations as available. If a FAVCIP student accepts a full PVM tuition scholarship, upon graduation he/she will be required to work as a food or fiber animal veterinarian in a geographic area identified by the supporting producer organization for each year of tuition scholarship support. Any agreement to this effect will be made between the student and the producer organization, and will not be officiated by CSU.
*This program is not a guarantee route for entry into the PVM program.
The admissions policy for the Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine embraces diversity enhancement to attract qualified special interest groups who may contribute to the future availability of professionally and scientifically trained people working in food supply medicine and veterinary public health. This effort began in about 2002 and the college now admits about a dozen students per year with stated and demonstrated interest for fruitful careers in production medicine.
To address recruiting and retention efforts Cornell has engaged select veterinary students in their first year of training in a series of externships. Through an 8-week Food Animal Medicine Experience (FAME), six students each summer are chosen through a competitive application process and provided with an economical stipend of $4000. They rotate through three practicum experiences: A dairy farm, a progressive food animal veterinary practice focusing on herd health issues, and the laboratories of the animal Health Diagnostic Center and Quality Milk Production Service at Cornell University. Field trips and seminars to milk processing plants, meatpacking facilities, and retail centers are included. In addition, students participate in a field-based research project that addresses a real-world heath problem from multiple perspectives. The FAME program is a partnership between select private veterinary clinics, the Northeast Dairy Producers Association, and the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Cornell’s Summer Dairy Institute (SDI) accelerates the careers of interested fourth year veterinary students and recent graduates in advanced techniques necessary to serve modern production agriculture. The goal of the SDI is that graduates will provide a greater value to their employers, themselves, the dairy industry, and the food consuming public. The program is 8-weeks in duration and participants live, dine, and learn together in a cohesive unit so that they will form a network of colleagues that will serve them well into the future. SDI includes advanced classroom learning not available in traditional veterinary curricula, in addition to many hands-on activities that take place in concert with support of local agribusinesses. Topics include, for example, reproduction, financial decision-making, cow comfort and welfare, Spanish language instruction, biosecurity, and nutrition.
Cornell has recently had a curriculum change with most notably the availability of new elective courses in dairy production medicine and the introduction of clinical pathways. Examples of new courses made available in the last three years are Veterinarians and Food Production Systems, Investigating Herd Problems, Applied Dairy nutrition, Microbial Safety of Animal Based Foods, and Herd Health and Biosecurity using the NYSCHAP model. The clinical pathways were developed to allow students to acquire more specialized clinical knowledge, including dairy production medicine skills, while still providing a broad foundation of learning. Different than tracking, all students still rotate through core disciplines in large and companion animals, but students with production animal interests are now afforded about 50% more time to engage in professionally relevant learning opportunities at Cornell and through externships.
Iowa State University
The Veterinary Student Mixed Animal Recruitment Team (VSMART), a student based organization, was started in the fall of 2004. This came about after a survey conducted by the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association and the Iowa State University Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine determined that Iowa will be in need of at least 120 food animal veterinarians by the year 2008. The survey also found that the number of students who are graduating from the Iowa State University CVM and remaining in the state of Iowa to practice food animal medicine is not meeting Iowa’s critical demand. Increasing the retention of veterinarians in the state of Iowa, especially in the area of food animal production medicine, is a primary goal for VSMART. The long-term goal is to reduce the shortage of food animal veterinarians nation wide. VSMART wants to increase total enrollment of students at Iowa State University CVM who are predominantly interested in rural, mixed animal medicine by 5% each year.
VSMART is a club that consists of an executive team and over 75 student members. VSMART works to recruit, mentor and educate students interested in becoming mixed animal veterinarians. The group not only functions to educate fellow veterinary students about food or mixed animal veterinary medicine, but also targets interested high school and undergraduate students. Members of VSMART actively recruit current high school and undergraduate students into a career in mixed and food animal medicine through interactive presentations and displays at high school, local, and state events. At these events, VSMART discusses with the local, rural veterinarian the importance of being a positive mentor and promoting the profession accurately. Together, local veterinarians and VSMART help to provide opportunities and encouragement to students interested in mixed/food animal medicine through interactive presentations and workshops.
VSMART also works towards recruiting current veterinary students into mixed animal practice through speakers and a series of guest lectures, in addition to taking field trips to rural veterinary clinics throughout the state of Iowa. VSMART presented to the Student American Veterinary Medical Association House of Delegates in 2005 and reached two delegates from every veterinary college in the U.S. VSMART has also tried to establish chapters at other veterinary schools, and a goal is to establish a second VSMART chapter this year.
ISU has also has developed two summer cooperative learning experiences for students. These are called Swine Production Immersive Knowledge Experience (SPIKE) and Dairy Production Immersive Knowledge Experience (D-PIKE). A similar beef program will be launched in the summer of 2008. The goals of these 10 week programs are to expose students to the benefits of living in a rural community and by immersing them in food animal production systems give them an understanding of the entire food chain for the respective species. The students live together in a learning community environment and go out in pairs and spend 1-2 weeks in each of the different parts of the production system (i.e. boar stud, breeding and gestation, nursery and finisher, feed mill, transportation, slaughter house, veterinary clinic). Speakers are brought in for evening seminars and workshops. All costs are paid for the students. This program has been effective in recruiting urban students to target a career in food animal or mixed animal practice and accelerating and retaining the interests of students with rural backgrounds. These programs will be described in an upcoming issue of the JVME.
ISU has also focused on providing quality electives taught by clinically focused faculty earlier in the curriculum. For example, we have added general and species focused electives on informatics/records and nutrition in the last 2 years. The general courses have enrollments of approximately 70 students each.
Kansas State University
Rural Veterinarian Debt Forgiveness Legislation – The State of Kansas has passed legislation and appropriated funds to the CVM to select five incoming veterinary students each year to receive $20,000 per year in the form of a forgivable loan, renewable for four years. In addition to the veterinary education, the selected students receive extra training in regulatory issues, emerging infectious and zoonotic diseases, public health and rural sociology. The loan is able to be forgiven at the rate of $20,000 per year for up to four years if they serve in rural Kansas and support the livestock industry.
Scholarships – KSU CVM has two scholarships that pay full tuition, fees and books for an in-state student who is interested in rural practice. The scholarship is for four years. The college is the recipient of approximately $40,000 per year from a private foundation which supports non-resident students from their state who are interested in food animal practice. The CVM also offers $2,000 annually-renewable scholarships for up to five students whose career plans are to serve food animal veterinary medicine. (Prior to the Rural Veterinarian Debt Forgiveness Legislation, the CVM offered 10 of these scholarships each year.)
Contracts – We have a contract with North Dakota to support five students per year, paying the difference between in-state and non-resident tuition. The North Dakota selection committee has made it a high priority to support students with food animal interests and a likelihood that they will return to North Dakota.
Mentoring – KSU CVM has partners with the Association of Rural Veterinarians and the Kansas Veterinary Medical Association to provide mentors for veterinary students. Selected mentors are used to help teach basic clinical skills to students as part of the CVM’s clinical skills courses. We hold an annual meeting with pre-veterinary advisors from the Midwest and ask them to help us identify students with food animal interests.
Faculty Recruiting – Aggressive recruiting of food animal/food supply veterinarians to serve as teachers, researchers, outreach providers, and role models for food animal veterinary medicine. Over a 12-month time span 25 faculty were recruited who were directly involved in food safety and security primarily in beef production.
Agricultural Community Outreach - KSU CVM has birthing center demonstrations at the Kansas State Fair and the American Royal to showcase food animal veterinary medicine.
Certificate Program – The KSU CVM offers a Feedlot Certificate Program for veterinary students. Students enrolled in that program take extra courses during the summers plus advanced rotations in feedlot medicine. This certificate notation is designated on their diplomas and serves as a value-added credential when it comes to employers considering new graduates.
Electives – KSU CVM offers several electives that provide basic skill sets to students that will help them succeed in food animal practice. In the pre-clinical year, students are eligible to take a palpation elective where small groups learn reproductive anatomy and basic skills. During the clinical rotations, several advanced food animal electives are offered including: Cow-Calf Production Medicine, Feedlot Production Medicine, and Advanced Agricultural Practices. Fourth year veterinary students from other CVMs are eligible for enrollment in these electives. These courses provide the opportunity for food animal students to learn and refine relevant food animal skills prior to entering practice.
Job Placement – Students can post web-based pictures and brief biographical sketches which express their interest in food animal veterinary medicine. Potential employers can view this site and contact students for interviews.
Veterinary Career Opportunities Workshops – Beginning two years ago, the KSU CVM has partnered with the KSU Business College to host annual workshops to help mixed animal practitioners and prospective new associates find the correct job match for future success. Food supply veterinary practitioners from seven states and KSU veterinary students have participated in these conferences with initial success. Practitioners have gained skills related to defining the available position and matching the position with the right associate. Kansas State veterinary students have gained enhanced job seeking techniques by learning and practicing appropriate interview techniques. Industry funding has been secured to support these events.
Louisiana State University
The admissions committee formally values a wide range of diversity in the admissions process and backgrounds in rural animal medicine and rural animal management are one area that is considered.
Scholarships were made available in 2006 to be used to recruit students who can add to the diversity of the student body. One of three scholarships awarded in 2007 was to a student with a farm animal background.
LSU has a year 4 curriculum that allows students to concentrate in one of six different areas of practice, one of which is Farm Animal Medicine and Surgery.
Louisiana has a loan program for veterinary students that is administered by the Louisiana Student Financial Assistance Commission. It is designed to make loans to Louisiana residents who are veterinary students enrolled in certain veterinary programs. The intent of the legislature was to provide for an adequate supply of veterinarians who will practice food animal veterinary medicine in the state of Louisiana. The program currently is set up as a forgivable loan program. The loan targets students with a food animal interest and the loan is forgiven if a student takes a job in a rural practice in the state. To date, no one has taken advantage of the program.
Michigan State University
Production Medicine Scholars Pathway—MSU CVM’s Large Animal Clinical Sciences has formed a partnership with the MSU Department of Animal Science to launch a course of study that aims to prepare undergraduates for a career in herd-based production medicine and agricultural veterinary practice. CVM will dedicate up to ten seats each year to such students. There are no requirements to get into the Production Medicine Scholars Pathway program other than students must be enrolled as majors in animal science at MSU and have a passion and an interest in food animals. Of the 120 credits required to graduate, 116 are spelled out. Students apply for admission to CMV midway through their undergraduate experience. They may receive early admission to CVM with the proviso that they must complete their bachelor’s degree in animal science with a concentration in production medicine, maintain a 3.20 grade-point average through the rest of their undergraduate studies, and meet with their animal science advisor and the director of admissions in the CVM every semester to assess progress and discuss plans. Fifteen to 20 applicants are anticipated each year. An endowed scholarship program has been created to provide financial support for Production Medicine Scholars.
Students who are majoring in animal science also may apply to the CVM through the regular veterinary admission process. The advantage of the Production Medicine Scholars Pathway is the preparation the students receive for their career, including mentoring and participation in special field trips and seminars. Production Medicine Scholars compete for admission among a smaller pool of applicants than in the general admissions process and will receive an early decision about admission to the CVM.
MSU also has a Food Animal Club which is organized to give veterinary students enhanced education in issues important to those interested in production medicine whether in cattle, small ruminants, swine, camelids, or poultry.
Mississippi State University
The Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine takes a multifaceted approach to enhancing the number and quality of food supply veterinarians. Local recruiting is accomplished through contact with colleges within Mississippi and through communication with state cattlemen’s and equine groups. Faculty travel to land grant colleges in the US and visit Mississippi high schools to interest students in food animal medicine. The admissions committee at MSU makes a conscious effort to increase students in underrepresented areas, including food animal medicine. The admissions policy accepts veterinary related experience to include industry, research, agricultural, and clinical experience. The CVM draws a large proportion of students from the animal and dairy science undergraduate major, providing a pool of students with a sound educational foundation to pursue food animal studies. MSU has an active pre-veterinary medicine club with a CVM faculty co-advisor.
To foster food animal experiences, a Large Animal Ambulatory service has been initiated and will become a required rotation in 2008. When combined with the required in-house rotation in food animal medicine, MSU students can better understand the relationship between individual and population medicine and the role of the food supply veterinarian in food safety and security. MSU CVM is home to the largest warm water aquaculture health program in the US (second in the world), allowing the student unparalleled opportunity to study management and disease diagnosis in farmed catfish. The MSU CVM food safety group has established close ties with the Mississippi poultry industry, which ranks 4th nationally in broiler production. As a result of this relationship, CVM students have opportunity to extern in the poultry industry, and can complete experiences in poultry production or processing phases. Through these experiences, the MSU CVM has successfully placed graduates in poultry production companies.
The professional program allows senior DVM students 34 elective hours (of the 46 total) in the 4th year. During this time, students are encouraged to seek outside clinical experiences in referral, institutional, and commercial practices throughout the US, and this opportunity is used extensively by students interested in food animal medicine. Additionally, students have opportunity to take advanced clinical rotations, 4 week blocks of intensive hands-on training in dairy production medicine, beef production medicine, and food animal practice. The flexibility of the 4th year curriculum may explain why the MSU CVM has had a historically high rate of matching graduates into residencies and internships in the Veterinary Internship and Residency Matching Program. For example, in 2007, 5.5% of MSU CVM graduates accepted internships in food animal medicine. The curriculum structure also supports the Dual Degree (formerly the Food Animal Masters) program, wherein students obtain a DVM and MS in 5 years. This program principally serves the student interested in food supply veterinary medicine, and functions to increase the educational and experiential depth of the graduate. Annually, approximately 4% of MSU CVM graduates earn dual degrees.
North Carolina State University
NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine has the Food Animal Scholars Program. The goals of the program are to aid in the recruitment and mentoring of students with a sincere interest in lifelong careers in animal agriculture for the undergraduate programs in the Departments of Animal Science and Poultry Science and to produce graduates dedicated to lifelong careers of professional service to animal agriculture as Doctors of Veterinary Medicine. Up to six students and two alternates are chosen in the spring of each year to enter the Food Animal Scholars Pool. Eligible students are those who are majors in Departments of Animal Science or Poultry Science and who are in the spring semester of their sophomore year. One position is reserved for a swine-focused scholar and one position for a poultry-focused scholar. Beyond this, there are no overall “species” or departmental quota. Each year up to six students from the Food Animal Scholars Pool are admitted to the next class entering the CVM upon successful completion of all requirements and attainment of required standards. At the discretion of the Food Animal Scholars Steering and Mentoring Committee, consideration may be given to recent graduates, graduate students, and Animal Science students at NC A&T State University.
The Food Animal Scholars Steering & Mentoring Committee selects the members of the Scholars Pool. The committee monitors each pool annually and insures that each student has been assigned faculty mentors. Each student selected to join a Scholars Pool is assigned two faculty mentors, one from either the Department of Animal Science or Poultry Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and one from the Department of Population Health and Pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine. The faculty mentors work closely with the students to advise them, monitor their progress and commitment, and facilitate additional training opportunities, such as summer internships and other employment. At the time of selection of the new Food Animal Scholars Pool, each previous Pool’s members are re-evaluated, with membership changes made by the steering committee, if necessary. Students in the Scholars Pool who do not meet minimum academic standards for admission to the CVM, are not making progress toward completion of a degree, or who do not continue to demonstrate a sincere interest in supporting animal agriculture may be replaced with alternates at the same stage of training. Completion of the undergraduate degree is required for entry into the CVM under this program, and students are expected to have an approved Plan of Study showing how this will be accomplished.
The Steering Committee submits the names of up to six members of the Food animal Scholars Pool to the CVM Admissions Committee in the fall of each year as part of the admissions process for the next class. Students must submit all application materials. Upon admissions to the CVM, students from the Food Animal Scholars Pool are designated “Food Animal Scholars” for their year of graduation. Upon entry to the CVM, each Food Animal Scholar submits a formal plan for the entire four-year curriculum as part of the Food Animal Focus Area under the supervision of faculty mentors. This plan specifies selective and elective courses, summer work experiences, externships, special projects, and senior rotations. Students have the opportunity to concentrate in swine, poultry, beef, dairy, small ruminant, mixed practice, and potentially other areas.
While the college offers several selective courses for students interested in food animal practice, one deserves special mention. The Bovine Educational Symposium is a one-credit selective that focuses on beef and dairy production. Immediately after the end of the fall semester, participants ride buses to various facilities around the country to gain first hand observation of facilities that may not be available in NC. This trip has generated a lot of student interest each year and gives students a broader perspective of production practices.
The state of NC also has a debt relief program for students entering veterinary careers in shortage areas. While not limited to food animal practice, is does directly impact new graduates with food animal interests as this is one of the shortage areas.
The Ohio State University
Institute for Food Animal Veterinary Medicine—This institute includes over 25 faculty from the Columbus campus (clinical medicine, epidemiology, and public health), the Marysville ambulatory clinic (strictly large animal faculty with primary food animal interest), Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (food animal health research program), College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (animal sciences and food sciences), College of Medicine (infectious and zoonotic diseases), and the Ohio Department of Agriculture (biosecurity).
There is a partnership with the School of Public Health to offer Masters in Public Health degrees for post-baccalaureate students who are pre-veterinary students, veterinary students, or veterinarians.
The college partners with the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences to recruit students to veterinary medicine, cultivate those students with a food animal interest, reserve a place for these students in an upcoming veterinary class, and retain them in food animal medicine by continuing to promote their interest while in the professional veterinary curriculum.
An estimated 80% of the entering animal science students list pre-veterinary as the reason for enrolling in Animal Sciences. Therefore, most of the recruiting of pre-veterinary students with interests in food animals will be focused on Animal Science students.
Internship programs for Animal Science students where the students rotate through food animal rotations including the Marysville ambulatory practice, in-house food animal medicine and surgery, and through Veterinary Preventive Medicine utilizing the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Farms.
Oklahoma State University
The Veterinary Center at Oklahoma State University has excellent resources to support the education of students for careers in food animal and rural practice. We maintain a high bovine case load in our teaching hospital. We have clinicians and diagnosticians in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Oklahoma Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and Department of Pathobiology devoted to food animal research, teaching and service. Our faculty maintain highly competitive research programs targeted at food animal infectious diseases (bovine respiratory disease; tick transmitted diseases) that include access to and working relationships with several commercial feedlots and their veterinarians, as well as other segments of the industry. The food animal program includes a close, multidisciplinary working relationship with animal scientists and access to the Willard Sparks Beef Research Center and operation of the Wendal Wallace Bovine Research Center. Residents trained at Oklahoma State University have close to a 100% pass rate on certifying examinations.
Veterinarians for Rural Oklahoma Program—There is considerable interest in increasing the number of veterinarians for private practice careers in rural Oklahoma. Following is a plan that entails several components or phases. Keys to this plan are identification of prospective students, educating them about the profession, strengthening their academic preparation for the veterinary curriculum and mentoring them into rural practice careers. The final phase is intended to retain veterinarians in rural practice.
- Phase 1: Identify, mentor, and recruit high school students enrolled at rural high schools. This phase has been implemented and included a summer camp held on campus in July.
- Phase 2: Refinement of the admissions program—Additional points have always been given to applicants with background in animal agriculture. The admissions program is now being refined to include SKAs and an early admission component.
- Phase 3: Mentoring of veterinary students for rural practice—Faculty and student organizations have been proactive. Very successful rural practitioners are invited to campus to speak with the students. The largest beef cattle case load in the country is maintained by the OSU along with a 640 acre ranch for horses and cattle. All veterinary students are required to take core courses in food animal production and medicine.
- Phase 4: Incentives—Oklahoma has a scholarship/loan forgiveness program for physicians that practice in communities of 7,500 or less. The Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture, working with stakeholder groups, will introduce legislation this year to amend the act making veterinarians eligible for the program. The legislation has been approved and is awaiting funding.
- Phase 5: Retention of Veterinarians in Rural Practice—This is the most important phase and the hardest to accomplish. With assistance from the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association, programs at the state meeting addressing this issue have been scheduled. Future speakers will address consolidation and regionalization of rural practices.
Low Cost Loan Program – The Veterinary Center, working in cooperation with the OSU Center for Innovation and Economic Development and Oklahoma Bank First, has established a low cost loan program for new and recent graduates that wish to establish veterinary practices in Oklahoma communities with a population of 25,000 or less. The program covers both new and existing practices.
Oregon State University
The Admissions Committee and faculty recognize the value of a diverse student body. Applicants from diverse backgrounds bring unique perspectives and enrich the veterinary educational experience as well as the profession. Therefore, the Admissions Committee seeks to accept applicants from a variety of ethnic, educational or social backgrounds that may be underrepresented in the veterinary profession. Each applicant is evaluated in terms of his/her stated background and professional goals as well as the current and projected future needs of the veterinary profession. Potential contribution of an applicant to food animal and/or rural veterinary practice has always been considered a very positive attribute for applicants. The entering class at Oregon State University has consistently included about 25-45% of students that are interested in food animal or mixed animal practice. Moderate efforts at outreach to middle school and high school students in rural areas and among 4H and FFA groups are made. The Animal Sciences Department at Oregon State University also has a very active recruitment program and many of our applicants are graduates of this program.
Entering students are assigned a faculty mentor who are matched to their interests as much as possible to provide positive role models for those interested in food animal practice. Required courses provide instruction in all facets of food animal medicine, surgery, and theriogenology. In the fourth year, Rural Veterinary Practice, a 4 week required rotation, provides practical, on-the-farm, ranch, or dairy hands-on experience for each student, in addition to their large animal medicine (4 weeks) and surgery rotations (4 weeks) at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Electives available include Ruminant Nutrition, Large Animal Palpation, Cattle Production Medicine, Sheep and Goat Medicine and Surgery, Camelid Medicine and Surgery and a variety of food animal rotations at the Caine Center in Caldwell, Idaho. Students are required to complete at least four weeks of preceptorship, and they are encouraged to use this to gain additional practical experience at practices like those they might want to enter.
Active student clubs include the Food Animal Club and the Theriogenology Club.
All preveterinary students are exposed to a full range of veterinary careers, including food animal practice, in a required course on “Careers in Veterinary Medicine.” Preveterinary students are welcomed into the Animal Science Department and are assigned a major in Preveterinary Medicine.
The admissions committee makes a deliberate attempt to identify applicants with an interest in food animal careers and to offer them positions in the entering class. Purdue’s early admissions Veterinary Scholars program identifies exceptional high school seniors entering the preveterinary program and offers a position in veterinary school to them upon completion of a BS degree. Many of the Veterinary Scholars have been students with food animal career interests and they have earned their BS degree in Animal Science.
The Food Animal Club provides exposure to many role models of food animal veterinarians, field trips, and opportunities to attend national meetings of specialty groups such as AABP and AASV.
Texas A&M University
The goal of the Food Animal Program is to train the best entry level veterinarian possible. There three focused areas to help accomplish this goal in food animal medicine.
- Professional Training
The College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences created a Large Animal Practitioner Manpower Task Force. The first recommendation from this task force was to concentrate efforts in recruitment. The utilization of the current Texas Cooperative Extension Programs like 4-H and other youth programs is where this effort should begin. The Texas Cooperative Extension Program has an excellent recruitment and training program called the Veterinary Science Project. This educational event targets middle and high school aged youth which have an interest in veterinary careers.
The Texas A&M CVM’s Student Chapter of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners developed a recruitment program targeted at High School students. The Texas A&M Food Animal Veterinary Recruiters – Tex FAVR has the mission statement to promote interest and enthusiasm for careers in veterinary medicine and help prospective students identify paths to success in pre-veterinary education. The heart of the Tex FAVR’s effort is to target rural schools to encourage students to explore the potential of being a veterinarian. The presentation that is delivered by TAMU SC-AABP student members is centered on careers in food animal medicine and answering questions about how to successfully enter into the veterinary profession. This program is a cooperative effort sponsored by the Texas A&M University, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the Texas Veterinary Medical Association.
There is an established network of faculty that has embraced the challenge of assisting pre-veterinary students’ in the goal of entering the veterinary professional program. This effort by the Food Animal Faculty is to assist all potential students to accomplish their stated goals of becoming a veterinarian.
The recommendation from the Large Animal Practitioner Manpower Task Force was to enhance our mentorship efforts. Our program begins by providing active mentorship in three focused areas.
- Pre-entry to the professional program
- During the professional veterinary training program
The first mentorship effort is prior to the students’ entry into the professional program. The Food Animal Faculty actively participates at seeking out potential students and in mentoring these students in their career choice as a potential food animal veterinarian. The Food Animal Faculty decided to pursue advisory capacity in the TAMU Pre-veterinary Association. This assisted in the establishment of a network with the pre-veterinary students.
The next mentoring effort that is accomplished by the Food Animal Faculty is during the professional veterinary training program. Numerous faculty members are involved with the CVM’s Mentoring Program that establishes a faculty – student relationship in the first year’s enrollment in the professional program. There is encouragement and mentorship throughout the profession program. This mentorship effort is to act as a facilitator by advising and assisting the potential future food animal veterinarians in acquiring the necessary skills, knowledge, aptitudes and attitudes to fulfill their career goals. The Food Animal Faculty are actively engaged in the student chapters of the AABP, Small Ruminant Club, Christian Veterinary Fellowship, Veterinary Business Association and SCAVMA.
The mentorship effort doesn’t end upon graduation but continues through their veterinary career. The faculty takes a proactive role in assisting these new veterinarians that have entered into food animal practice in their assimilation into the role of the food animal veterinarians. The faculty also actively participates in the counseling and mentorship of graduate veterinarians in their pursuit of advanced training.
In the first year of the professional veterinary program, the students have an opportunity to participate in a program that introduces them to Food Supply Veterinarian Medicine. The program focuses on increasing understanding of the role that the food animal veterinarians play in our society and understanding of the food animal industry. The focus of this program is centered on experiential learning through field trips of the dairy, feedlot, and swine industry. The field trips also include interaction with food animal veterinarians that serve these industries.
Texas A&M University, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is extremely fortunate to have a very active Student Chapter of the American Association of the Bovine Practitioners. The chapter has four faculty advisors that help to guide and plan chapter events. The chapter plans monthly educational opportunities for the student body. The student chapter established the Tex-FAVR, an educational and recruitment program for middle and high school students.
In the second year of the professional veterinary program, the students receive training in food animal medicine through Clinical Correlates Class. The second year professional veterinary students learn and increase their skills in animal handling, knowledge of animal behavior, the role of food animal veterinarians in society, and understanding of the swine, small ruminants, and beef cattle industries. The basis for this offering is to increase the knowledge bases of the average professional veterinary student regardless of their career interest.
In the third year of the professional program, the veterinary students have numerous elective opportunities in food animal medicine. The electives range from advanced ruminant medicine to ruminant nutrition to plant toxicology to production record analysis to environmental health. The basis of these electives is to increase the knowledge of the food animal interested veterinary students. The third year veterinary students have a Clinical Correlates Class that introduces and reinforces the principles of food animal handling from the previous year.
The fourth year clinical instruction is filled with opportunities that aid in the development of Food Animal Veterinarians. There are specially designed rotations and tracking that were developed to help build the knowledge and skill base of the future food animal veterinarians. There are numerous clinical rotations that utilize partnerships with private veterinary practices developed through relationships fostered by the Food Animal Faculty. The Dairy and Small Ruminant clinical rotations are examples of the utilization of private practice relationships. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice rotation is another fostered relationship that has been in existence for 38 years. This large diverse agricultural operation is the largest teaching laboratory in the world centered around 16,000 cattle and 30,000 swine. The professional veterinary student has the opportunity to participate in a local food animal and referral practice through the Food Animal Medicine and Surgery and Food Animal Field services. The Food Animal Faculty developed a clinical rotation called Contemporary Issues in Animal Agriculture and Food Production. The purpose of this rotation is to increase the familiarity, knowledge, and understanding of 4th year veterinary students on issues that impact our society and their role as graduate veterinarians and as leaders in agriculture at the local, state, national, and international levels. The two week clinical rotation utilizes a variety of formats ranging from “hands on” veterinary services to interactive “on-sight” experience to simulated veterinary interaction/training to “real life” regulatory network experience. There are six areas that the student will be exposed to through this rotation: Bio-terrorism, Alternative Food Production, Food Safety, Environmental Health, Regulatory Medicine and Animal Welfare.
The utilization of alternative tracking is one of the keys to training future food animal veterinarians. The alternative track allows the students the option to builds skills, knowledge and aptitude in food animal medicine. It allows the student in the flexibility to learn through a variety of venues from private practices to other academic programs to private industry.
The Texas A&M University Bovine Teaching Herd was established through generous donations by Texas Cattle Producers, Veterinary Practitioners of Texas and Large Animal Faculty members. This teaching herd has increased the Food Animal Medicine Faculty’s ability to teach basic husbandry skills, cattle handling, reproductive management, and the basic understandings of cattle industry. The herd is managed by the SC-AABP.
Rural Veterinary Incentive Program – This is a legislative act that will provide financial incentives to veterinary college students and graduates who agree to practice in a rural county
Program provides financial support for at least 1 year of tuition/fees
- Student must agree to practice in a rural Texas county (pop. <50,000) for at least 1 year for each year of financial support provided
- Student must have at least 50% of at least 1 year’s worth of tuition/fees paid for by student loans
- Student may apply on or before the 1st anniversary of graduation from Texas A&M CVM
- Student must meet any other eligibility requirements as decided by the program committee
The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University has one contract with the state of Maine that pays $12,000 per year to a student who agrees to return to Maine to engage in food supply veterinary medicine. It has been difficult in the past to find a student to fill this seat.
Experiential opportunities for students interested in exploring food supply veterinary medicine span the four years of the professional curriculum. Tufts Ambulatory Service, a dairy based large animal teaching practice, and Tufts Farm are primary venues for food supply veterinary medicine instruction. The Tufts Farm experiences include management and health care of swine, sheep and cattle. Husbandry electives are offered on the campus farm which includes all the mjor livestock species. Several large animal oriented students are employed as summer farm workers each year.
Core experiences related to food animals are required in each year of the curriculum including spending time working on a commercial farm during the first year, acquisition of clinical skills related to cattle, sheep, swine and llamas, selective and core rotations with Tufts Ambulatory Service and on Tufts Farm in the second and third years, a required 4 week core clinical rotation and herd health project in the fourth year and the opportunity for additional food supply elective rotations in the fourth year. The seven large animal ambulatory faculty help students find extended electives in dairy, beef, swine, mixed and other food animal practices in other regions of the country to complement their experience at the Cummings School. Our Ambulatory Service is run in a manner nearly identical to a private practice and those faculty serve as excellent role models for our students and spend a great deal of time trying to interest students in the many benefits of a career as a food and fiber animal practitioner.
The Student Livestock Organization is an active group which arranges such activities as foot trimming and livestock vaccination, visiting a bison farm, participating in a bovine embryo flush and transfer and visiting an alpaca farm. One of our theriogenologists advise student members of the American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners and our food animal ambulatory faculty encourage students to join other large animal organizations such as the American Association of Bovine Practitioners. Food animal faculty also advise pre-veterinary students from the 6 New England states interested in large animal practice.
Faculty from Tufts Ambulatory Service teach in the Adventures in Veterinary Medicine Programs where middle school, high school, college or adult participants are introduced to many of the facets of veterinary medicine, including food animal practice. In addition, we work regularly with a local Vocational High School and speak to students about careers in the profession.
All veterinary students are exposed to food animal practices, herd health management practices as well as production management as part of our West Alabama Food Animal Practice Program, the Poarch Creek Indian Reservation and our Macon County and surrounding counties ambulatory program. We are also active in the rural veterinary opportunities in veterinary medicine. Students with an interest in food animal practice are guided toward summer programs and internships where they will gain further food animal practice experience.
The food animal club has special labs and scientific programs for students interested in food animal practice.
Université de Montréal
First year professional program students have one week of intensive training in September of their first year. They spend one week in regional poultry, swine, or cattle industry farms. They work in teams with the student, farm manager, and the veterinarians.
There is a voluntary mentorship program during the first and second years of the professional program along with the summer between the junior and senior year that offers students the possibility of up to 12 weeks of a farm becoming familiar with farm management and production. This program is supported by grants from the Federation of Milk Producers.
Students who have a swine, poultry, or bovine interest may join groups where faculty is involved with organized meetings, seminars, and workshops.
University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM)
UCVM is a new veterinary college that will accept its first group of students in September, 2008. The program was established with a number of goals in mind, two of which were to enhance veterinary service in rural communities and to increase the number of veterinarians entering food supply veterinary medicine, specifically production animal health. While there is overlap in these goals, we have recognized that veterinarians working in rural communities in Canada need to have a significant small animal component to their practices to provide financial stability and success. Moreover, veterinarians serving large scale production animal industries are not necessarily based in the rural environment but are often based out of mid to large size urban centres. Finally, food supply veterinary medicine includes not only veterinarians providing on-farm service, but public health veterinarians, public practice veterinarians, and veterinarians engaged in activities such ecosystem health. Accordingly, UCVM has adopted a multi-pronged approached to help graduate more veterinarians that will serve the food animal system.
UCVM has established four multidisciplinary academic departments. The Department of Production Animal Health is devoted to food and fibre producing animals. The Department of Ecosystem and Public Health is devoted to interactions at the interface of domestic animals, wildlife, humans and the environment. Included in the mandate of this department are food safety, emerging diseases, and public health, all relevant to food supply veterinary medicine. These departments are seeking to recruit faculty with the relevant expertise and we are establishing Chairs that will be devoted not only to research and education in these areas, but who will play significant outreach roles.
UCVM’s academic program is an integrative core-elective model. We will introduce important aspects of production animal health and food supply veterinary medicine through clinical presentations, clinical skills, and professional skills courses that comprise approximately 40% of the curriculum over the first three years.
UCVM has adopted two innovations in its programming. All students will receive a general veterinary education and are required to complete a program that would enable them to enter into a multi-species general practice environment. In addition, students must select an Area of Emphasis (AoE) Program from one of the following: Production Animal Health, Ecosystem and Public Health, Equine Health, and Investigative Medicine. Students who select Production Animal Health, Ecosystem and Public Health, or Equine Health will be provided additional experiences in their fourth year that include aspects of food supply veterinary medicine and/or rural environments. Within each AoE, students will be required to complete a compulsory core, but then they will be able to follow an elective program that allows them either to explore the area in more depth or to broaden their experience. The AoE concept and the general veterinary education core are employed in recruitment material to attract students into these areas.
UCVM’s academic program will also employ a Distributed Veterinary Learning Community (DVLC) to deliver its practicum training program. Throughout the program, but particularly in the fourth year, students will train at off-campus locations including animal industries (feedlots, cow-calf operations, swine and poultry facilities, etc), rural multi-species practices, government laboratories and departments (agriculture, food inspection agencies), and specialist production animal health practices. The intent is to introduce students to both the clients and the environments in which they would work in food supply veterinary medicine so that they are aware of the opportunities and are as comfortable as possible in those environments.
In terms of recruitment, we have established a number of entrance scholarships that will support students entering production animal health or ecosystem and public health. Sponsored scholarships (not administered by the university) are also available that require students to work in rural communities on graduation. We have also established a deferred entry policy that would enable students to receive an entry deferral to pursue further studies relevant to production animal health prior to entering the program. We have also created entrance requirements that can be met through small centre community colleges to encourage students to remain in rural environments as long as possible and to facilitate entry into the program.
We are continuing to review linkage programs with animal science or undergraduate animal health programs. We have established a mentorship program for students in which all students will be paired with an on-campus faculty member and an off-campus community veterinarian. We will pair students with rural multi-species veterinarians and with production animal health specialists.
We are continuing to refine our admissions process, but we are employing a multiple mini-interview format that allows us to assess for attributes desirable in students who will pursue relevant careers in our AoEs. This process will be continued to be refined and developed. UCVM is also in the process of developing clubs and extra-curricular activities that will support students with an interest in food supply veterinary medicine. We have a second campus on the edge of Calgary that will house food animals and opportunities for students to work with these animals from the first semester. In addition, we are seeking placements for students during the year and in the summer months that will provide additional food supply veterinary medicine opportunities for students.
University of California, Davis
A number of avenues are being explored to interest future students in veterinary medicine and Food Supply Veterinary Medicine in particular. A program “Animal Ambassadors” has been in place for 5 years. The program is designed to introduce children in 3rd through high school to the value of animals as well as basic information about animal species. Over 10,000 students have participated in this modular program which is provided as a package to teachers at the respective grade level.
The California Veterinary Medical Association has established a mentoring program with the School to bring 4-H and FFA students to tour the School of Veterinary Medicine. In addition, this mentoring program provides these same students with weekend tours and experiences at a variety of veterinary practices. High school students from rural communities apply for internships at the Veterinary Medical Teaching and Research Center in Tulare. The high school students are given projects under supervision of faculty and staff which require them to handle animals, collect samples, conduct laboratory tests, write up results and present to faculty for evaluation. About 90% of these students go on to college and a number are now in veterinary school. Other high school students may choose to work with scientists/staff in the Dairy Food Safety Laboratory where they work on projects in animal health and well-being, public health, environmental health, food safety or food defense. A similar program is available to Community College students as well as undergraduate students from around the United States. It has been very successful in attracting students to veterinary school to become food supply veterinarians. Most of them are seeking careers in dairy practice.
The Student Veterinary Medical Association has a group of volunteers who travel to high schools throughout the Davis area as well their home towns during breaks giving insights into the opportunities in the profession. Approximately, 20 veterinary students participate each year at the Livestock Birthing Center at the California State Fair. These students also provide veterinary services and collect samples for mandatory testing of the different show animals under the supervision of School faculty at the Fair.
The admission process takes a serious look at underserved areas of the profession and strives to include those with interests in areas such as food supply veterinary medicine. The Committee usually identifies 8-10 students with livestock or poultry interests and as many as 25 others with mixed animal practice interests. The School designates scholarship money and additional funding from pharmaceutical companies provides the opportunity for students to receive $2,500 for five weeks over the summer to spend in a dairy environment. The summer before starting veterinary school is spent on a dairy farm participating in routine dairy production activities and management. The second and third summers are spent with dairy veterinarians gaining experience with the different practice models.
After taking basic courses such as anatomy, pathology, microbiology, immunology, epidemiology, parasitology, medicine and surgery, students are able to track into food supply tracks or mixed animal tracks. They take electives that prepare them for a fourth year where they spend all of the time in a food animal environment. Individual large animal medicine, surgery and reproduction are provided to students in 4 to 8 week blocks at Davis. The Veterinary Medical Teaching and Research Center in Tulare provides 4 and 8 week rotations for the students, where they participate in a large-herd practice. In addition to the regular clinical duties, students develop and work on projects (in an area of interest to them) related to dairy cow or calf health or performance, nutrition and/or cow comfort and present those projects to faculty and staff. All food supply veterinary students are required to rotate through an externship with an established food animal veterinarian to understand the role of the practitioner and the kinds of services they can offer to animal production agriculture clients.
Those students with interests in poultry medicine usually 1 to 3 per class, are provided with clinical practice activities with faculty on commercial poultry operations. They also spend 4 week blocks of time in a poultry diagnostic laboratory setting.
Post graduate professional degree programs and residencies at Tulare and Davis are available for the students. Most of students enroll in dual degree programs such as the Masters of Preventive Veterinary Medicine or Masters in Public Health. The students are required to conduct a research project before graduating with these degrees. Some students chose to continue on with a PhD program in areas such as nutrition, reproduction, epidemiology, microbiology, pathology, toxicology, and ecosystem health.
Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh
Our admissions process places value on prior experiences with a range of animal species, and all prospective students are expected to have agricultural experience. In addition, we are currently exploring links with the Scottish Agricultural College to identify students with a strong agricultural background who may subsequently enter our graduate entry programme.
The R(D)SVS has a 220 milking cow dairy herd and a 400 lowland breeding ewe flock, which are used extensively for teaching of undergraduate students. The school has also been at the forefront of developing the “Virtual Farm”, a project to enable undergraduate students to be more directly engaged with the day-to-day activities of the farm (including the use of farm web-cams), and access production data easily. All students must complete 12 weeks of pre-clinical extramural studies by the end of 2nd year, which must include a minimum of 2 weeks on a cattle farm, a minimum of 2 weeks on a sheep farm, one week of a pig farm and one week on a poultry unit.
We encourage flexibility within the 26 weeks of clinical extramural studies required by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons which allows those with a farm animal/ agricultural interest to focus on their particular areas of interest during these periods.
In the final year of their studies, students rotate through four areas related to food animal medicine as part of their studies: Farm Animal Hospital, Large Animal Practice (Ambulatory), Herd Health and Veterinary Public Health. Students are also able to take a three week elective period in the final year, and electives are offered in the areas of Farm Animal Medicine and Herd Health. Both of these electives are usually over-subscribed.
University of Florida
The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, in collaboration with UF’s Department of Animal Sciences (part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, or IFAS) and the Florida Cattleman’s Association, in 2008 began a new initiative to attract deserving students who aspire to become food animal veterinarians. The goal is to recruit and engage up to four new students each year, all of whom will have been identified as having strong interest and capability of becoming food animal veterinarians and who have met all the prerequisites required for admission to the college. A committee of four faculty members within the Department of Animal Sciences has been charged with identifying appropriate candidates, and in turn the college’s dean has made four admission slots available among the existing 88 slots with the stipulation that all candidates must meet regular admission requirements for the professional DVM program. The first year was highly successful insofar as six candidates were granted admission to the class of 2012. It is anticipated that a minimum of four such students will be admitted each year in the future.
Another incentive for keeping these and other students engaged in food animal-related activities and learning opportunities is a new program for certification in food animal veterinary medicine. The program will be administered by the Food Animal Reproduction and Medicine Service in the UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s department of large animal clinical sciences and will provide strong entry level training in food supply veterinary medicine. The food animal veterinary medicine certificate provides a template for mastering basic skills associated with the discipline, including food animal/systems oriented courses taught within the UF College of Veterinary Medicine as well as targeted extracurricular activities.
Students from all backgrounds and experience levels are encouraged to participate. Those who successfully complete the program will receive a certificate that documents their advanced and directed training in food animal veterinary medicine. Students who complete the certificate program will be better prepared to provide leadership in this area, and will also be better candidates for advanced training through internship and/or residency programs, as well as through graduate work such as pursuit of a master’s or doctoral degree. Faculty mentors will play an important role in helping students clarify and pursue their career goals.
Students involved in the certificate program also will be expected to participate in the college’s Food Animal Club, which provides weekend wet labs and other hands-on experience working with animals, discussion of food animal topics and contact with others of similar interest. Students also will become members of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners and are encouraged to affiliate with the Society for Theriogenology. In addition, students participating in the certificate program are expected to complete an individual research investigation focusing on some aspect or problem relating to food supply veterinary medicine.
University of Georgia
The College of Veterinary Medicine, in cooperation with the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences has developed an early admissions program, the Food Animal Veterinary Incentive Program. The purpose of the Food Animal Veterinary Incentive Program (FAVIP) is to create a sustainable source of future veterinarians for underserved disciplines and geographic regions central to the future of safe and successful food animal production. Successful completion of this program will result in admission into the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. Final admission is subject to review by the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine Admissions Committee. The program is intended to encourage talented high school students from rural areas to attend the University of Georgia for their undergraduate education and encourage undergraduate students interested in animal agriculture to pursue a course of study at the University of Georgia
Food Animal VIP students will be eligible for up to five reserved positions in each CVM class. Food Animal VIP students will apply to the CVM program through the regular admissions process and will be expected to meet all regular pre-veterinary and application requirements. Acceptance to the CVM is contingent upon satisfactory completion of FAVIP program requirements. Special consideration will be given to the commitment and potential to contribute to the field of food animal medicine. Letters of recommendation required for the CVM admissions process must include at least one from a practicing food animal veterinarian with whom the FAVIP student worked. Students who complete the FAVIP are expected to declare an area of interest in Food Animal in the CVM and, upon graduation from the CVM, practice food animal medicine. The only area of interest changes that would be allowed are to Mixed Animal, Population Health, Public Health or Public/Corporate Practice.
In addition, the College awards scholarships annually to veterinary students whose focus is underserved fields of veterinary medicine. These fields include public health, regulatory medicine, food safety, food animal medicine, rural practice medicine, biomedical research, and veterinary specialties that address infectious diseases (e.g., pathology, virology, and microbiology).
University of Guelph/Ontario Veterinary College
OVC recognizes and supports the vital role that veterinarians have in assuring the health of food animals and the safety of our food supply. Although the College does not have a separate recruitment or admissions process for students interested in food animal practice, students who express an interest in food animal practice are linked with faculty and/or private practitioners for summer employment and research opportunities and for external rotations in their final year. Students also work with food animal practitioners in a variety of experiential learning opportunities such as the Veterinary Experience Program and as part of the Summer Leadership and Research Program.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
iFARMS is the Illinois Food Animal Reproduction, Medicine, and Surgery program for stipends to support veterinary students in pursuing practical summer study/work experiences. This new program is overseen by the Office the Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs. This award is open to all current VM1 and VM2 students with an interest in Food Animal and Production Medicine. Applicants must submit a resume and brief project proposal for a summer experience of up to 4 weeks in duration at a public or private food animal production or practice facility. The program pays a generous weekly stipend for up to 4 weeks in one summer. More than one award is available. The goal is to encourage further interest in Food Animal and Production Medicine for those students who may be interested in food and fiber animals as a veterinary career. Successful applicants are required to present a written paper and oral report on their summer experiences upon their return to the College in the fall semester.
The College Admissions Advisory Committee currently is discussing potential plans to set aside a designated number of seats in future incoming classes for underrepresented populations such as students with demonstrable interests in Food Animal Reproduction, Medicine, and Surgery.
The Illinois Farm Bureau provides low cost loans up to $5,000/year for students committing to practice in a production medicine or mixed animal practice in rural Illinois.
University of Minnesota
Veterinary Food Animal Scholars Program (VetFAST)—This program was designed to meet the shortage of veterinarians trained to work with dairy cows, beef cattle, swine, poultry, sheep and goats both in rural areas, the food industry, and state and federal governmental agencies. VetFAST allows students to:
- Get an “admissions decision” by the UM CVM at the end of their first year in college instead of during their junior or senior year
- Complete both their B.S. and D.V.M. degrees in seven years instead of eight
- Waive the requirement to take the GRE as part of the admission process for the D.V.M. program
- Benefit from mentorships with veterinary faculty and other D.V.M. students
- Pursue summer veterinary and industry work opportunities
- Get scholarships and financial support through summer internships
To qualify for admission to the VetFAST program, high school students must:
- Have a strong interest in food animal medicine—dairy, beef, swine, poultry and small ruminants
- Rank in the top 25 percent of their high school graduating class
- Score 25 or higher (composite score) on the ACT
- Provide a letter of support from a practicing veterinarian
Freshman students enroll at the UM with an Animal Science/Pre-Veterinary major in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. During the first year of college students must meet minimum academic and coursework requirements. When students complete their freshman year they:
- Submit their VetFAST application for admission to the D.V.M. program
- Continue their pre-veterinary coursework in the Animal Science major after acceptance in VetFAST
- Begin their veterinary studies during their fourth year of college instead of waiting to receive their B.S. degree
At the end of the freshman year, when applying to the VetFAST program students must have:
- Experience related to food animal medicine. This can include experience on a farm, participation in 4-H or FFA, or involvement in relevant activities during their first year at the university
- A letter of support from their advisor or a faculty member in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Sciences
- A letter of support from a veterinarian
- A minimum grade point average of 3.40 at the end of their first year
To remain a VetFAST participant and automatically gain admission to the D.V.M. program in their fourth year, students must:
- Continue to take animal production courses; at least two of these are required during the last two years of their pre-veterinary program
- Complete all required pre-veterinary coursework with a minimum grade point average of 3.40 for the first three years
The CVM is expected to admit up to 20 students to VetFAST each year. Participants will be selected based on interviews with the CVM admissions committee.
University of Pennsylvania
Penn Vet New Bolton Center offers an undergraduate food animal externship summer experience to undergraduate students from Mid-Atlantic and New England schools. This is an eight week externship, funded by Penn Vet, for aspiring students who would like to investigate a career in food animal veterinary medicine. They can rotate through dairy, swine, equine and ambulatory, with rotations modified to target the particular student's needs and interests. Students do receive a stipend during this time to cover room and board costs.
Every year the Admissions Office visits many Mid-Atlantic and New England schools to recruit undergraduates to apply to Penn Vet and particularly to the large state agricultural universities. For applicants who express an interest in large animals, a day-long interview and tour event is held at New Bolton Center. If a student has a particular species interest they are paired up with a faculty person to have some one-on-one time to discuss their interests and answer any questions they may have regarding their career aspirations. This fall Penn Vet will begin a partnership with the W. B. Saul School for Agriculture Science which is a magnet school for the City of Philadelphia. Our students will become mentors for Saul students and will have access to their livestock herds. Additionally, we depend on our alums to nurture students and lead them to our Admissions Office for Academic and Career Counseling.
Pennsylvania State Grants are available for Pa residents with extraordinary academic records and for those specifically interested in Food Animal Medicine. We have begun a scholarship program to entice any students with an advanced degree particularly in Animal Science, Agricultural Science or Veterinary Science. PhD's in appropriate disciplines are also strongly desired and encouraged with scholarships.
Any veterinary student has the opportunity to obtain hands-on training in the day-to-day operations of the Penn Vet dairy, poultry, and swine facilities. This opportunity gives those students with limited large animal exposure a more solid foundation and appreciation of production aspect of the livestock industry which is beneficial when communicating with the producers once they become food animal practitioners.
University of Prince Edward Island/Atlantic Veterinary College
AVC at this time does not have a formal recruitment or admissions program which favors students interested in food animal practice. Food animal faculty offers a biannual project to senior 4-H members to encourage interest in food supply veterinary medicine. AVC has a strong curriculum in food supply, public health and regulatory veterinary medicine and we current graduate more food animal and mixed practitioners than are required to satisfy the areas needs. Curriculum renewal, currently in progress, will further expand the range of offerings available to students interested in food supply veterinary medicine. Veterinary students have the opportunity to join the Student Chapters of; American Association of Bovine Practitioners, American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners, and American Veterinary Society of Theriogenologists. Each chapter has an active faculty advisor. Faculty members encourage continued contact in food supply veterinary medicine through facilitating placement of students with our own and other food supply practices. A wide range of food animal externships and external rotations are offered to provide training in a range of food supply areas.
University of Saskatchewan
The Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) at the University of Saskatchewan takes an active role in encouraging students to consider food animal practice as a career choice.
While the admissions process does not formally favor students with a large animal interest, previous data suggests that applicants from a rural background have a slightly higher success rate that those from an urban background.
Food animal related topics along with public health and food safety retain a strong profile with-in the curriculum and a variety of electives in production medicine will be offered in the third year of the revised program. In the future, students will also be able apply to take other experiences such as the Cornell’s Summer Dairy Institute (SDI) program for academic credit.
At the WCVM we are actively seeking out additional clinical food animal experiences for our students. As an example, in addition to the normal large animal clinical rotations, we have recently partnered with a group of swine practitioners and added two specific swine rotations that take place in a practice environment.
The Alberta Chair in Beef Cattle Health and Productivity which was created several years ago has the specific mandate of promoting food animal practice and of mentoring, encouraging and supporting students interested in food animal practice, particularly cattle practice. The WCVM Bovine Club has benefited from this and an annual field trip to elite bovine and feedlot practices serves to enthuse students with a food animal interest.
As part of the current expansion and renovation project, additional facilities have been added in support of this part of the program. The new Food Animal Teaching Building, a 980 sq. m purpose designed building provides a unique and outstanding teaching facility for surgery, internal medicine and theriogenology teaching laboratories related to food animals. One third of this building is specifically designed and used by students to learn and practice their rectal palpation skills. (The College still purchases approximately 50 – 60 cows per year in support of developing critical skills for future food animal practitioners.)
The Western College of Veterinary Medicine works actively with organizations such as the Saskatchewan Veterinary Medical Association and the Western Canadian Association of Bovine Practitioners to recruit into rural practice and to encourage students to attend their meetings.
Over the past three years, on average 44% of WCVM graduates start their careers in mixed animal practice with an additional 8% joining practices where the food animal case load exceeds 65% of the practice.
University of Wisconsin
The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine is taking a multi-faceted approach to enhance the number of students interested in careers in food systems veterinary medicine.
As one of the foremost dairy states in the country, we have always been fortunate to draw from a talented pool of applicants with agricultural backgrounds. However, we seek to enlarge that pool by capturing and encouraging interests in food animal veterinary medicine through three programs. At the high school level, current veterinary medical students, with support from SVM faculty, have developed a two-day series of hands-on activities and lectures for high school students and their agricultural/veterinary science teachers. The students and teachers come to the SVM campus for two Saturdays and have opportunities to meet faculty and students and participate in a variety of activities: observing ultrasound exams and hoof trimming, participating in large animal anatomy active learning activities and small group exercises to work through clinical cases, performing physical exams, hearing lectures on topics ranging from veterinary medical school admissions to foreign animal diseases, and many others activities. In addition, our students and faculty are working together to create real and virtual libraries of veterinary science teaching materials that can be used by high school agriculture and veterinary science teachers. At the college level, we are developing a targeted admissions and mentoring process to attract highly qualified and motivated undergraduate students to careers in food animal veterinary medicine. Students will be able to apply to our veterinary medical school early in their college careers, with accelerated admissions positions reserved for those who complete a series of preparatory courses and mentoring experiences.
For our current students, we have created the Lee Allenstein Teaching Herd within the School to allow students to pursue a variety of hands-on learning experiences with dairy cattle. In addition, all of our students are required to complete ambulatory rotations with food animal practices in the state, providing opportunities for the students to see real-life production medicine careers. Fourth year students can pursue a food animal area of clinical training emphasis, and we offer both basic production medicine skills and in-depth, topic-focused, advanced production medicine clinical rotations. Finally, recognizing the clear links between safe food production and public health, we offer a 5 year dual DVM/MPH degrees program, as well as a Certificate in Global Health, both as interdisciplinary programs in conjunction with the School of Medicine and Public Health on the UW-Madison campus.
At the state level, pending final budget approvals, the Wisconsin state legislature has supported development of a loan-forgiveness program for veterinary medicine graduates pursing careers in food animal practice.
Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
VA/MD CVM spends nearly $300,000 per year in recruiting scholarships, most of which are for students interested in food animal rural practice. In addition the college recently commenced a high school visitation program in which veterinary students visit high schools in their hometowns to recruit students into the profession. So students who are from a rural background would be recruiting prospective veterinary students from the same geographic background. In addition there are currently discussions with the Virginia Food Animal Academy in which veterinarians would visit high schools to promote and recruit students for rural practice.
VA/MD CVM has a food animal track commencing in the 2nd year of the professional curriculum. The college has a very active Food Animal Practitioner’s Club where the food animal faculty is committed to full support including after-hours activities. Every Saturday morning during fall and spring semesters students go to the dairy barns to do reproductive examinations.
Washington State University
The Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine admits outstanding applicants from a variety of social, educational and ethnic backgrounds. The professional curriculum is designed so that graduates recognize the breadth of veterinary medicine and understand the important and diverse roles that animals play in the health, economics, food-supply, geopolitical stability, environmental sustainability, recreation, and well being of humans. Graduate contributions to agricultural animal and rural veterinary practice remains an area of emphasis. Entering classes have historically included from 30-45 percent of students with interests in food animal or mixed animal practice.
The WSU CVM’s Agricultural Animal Health Program features core areas of responsibility involving education, service, outreach, and research. Participants include more than 20 faculty members from three different departments within the CVM. In 2007, the agricultural faculty formed the Agricultural Animal Veterinary Education Team. AAVET’s mission is to attract, retain and train highly competent, future-oriented agricultural animal veterinarians committed to providing services to the animal industries. AAVET is built on a commitment to the most effective teaching methods, mentoring and capitalization of our diverse resources.
AAVET goals include:
- Empowering, guiding and motivating students to become self-directed, lifelong learners;
- Identification and solicitation of individuals who obtain and maintain excellence in the pathway of their veterinary interests;
- Providing excellent whole-career pathway mentoring to each student from before matriculation to after graduation and in professional practice;
- Establishing and maintaining systems for active stakeholder communication, maintaining transparency, and soliciting input and feedback from all parties;
- Development of additional elective didactic courses and increased clinical and on-farm experiences throughout the curriculum.
Several WSU CVM agricultural animal faculty are recognized for their teaching excellence by students and faculty alike.
WSU is vertically integrating issues in animal agricultural throughout the full professional curriculum. A required, two-credit class the first semester of the curriculum introduces students to agricultural animal faculty, familiarizes students with agricultural animal practice, and familiarizes students with a fundamental understanding of animal agriculture including farm operations, livestock production cycles and international relevance. An important objective establishes student interest in animal agriculture and provides guidance to students considering careers in agricultural animal practice.
In addition to core courses in agricultural animal medicine, surgery, and epidemiology, students participate in elective courses that provide advanced skills in clinical, population-based, and diagnostic services. The Field Disease Investigation Unit within the college provides block rotations where students participate in disease outbreak investigations throughout the Pacific Northwest region.
The Washington-Idaho program in veterinary medicine involves collaborative efforts shared between faculty members at Washington State University, the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho, and the Caine Veterinary Teaching Center in Caldwell, Idaho. The Caine Center is solely devoted to addressing the needs of regional agricultural animal industries and participates through offering several elective blocks for fourth year professional students. Several preceptorships and externships related to agricultural practice are also made available to fourth year students. Plans are to develop similar experiences for underclass professional students during summer breaks.
The CVM has several donor-sponsored annual scholarships for students intending to enter agricultural practice. Recently, industry funding provided summer, on-premises experiences for students from non-agricultural backgrounds but who wanted agricultural field experience to supplement their career choices. WSU students have also competed successfully for ARV sponsored experiences in rural practices and are encourage by faculty to do so.
The CVM encourages active participation in student-led organizations, several of which are organized around agricultural animal species and advised by agricultural animal faculty. The large, active Agricultural Animal Club has a long tradition of organizing multi-day trips to large livestock operations in the region and bringing in national experts for focused seminars and wet-labs on topics related to agricultural animals. Clubs provide a friendly socio-academic environment for students to explore and deepen their interests. Some students participate in the Department of Animal Science’s Cooperative University Dairy Students program and assume complete responsibility for the ownership and day-to-day management of a small herd of dairy cattle housed at the WSU Knott’s Dairy Center. Professional students who have not yet received a bachelor’s degree prior to admission are also eligible to participate in the WSU and UI Dairy Challenge program.
The WSU-CVM has a strong, long-standing relationship with the Animal Science Departments of WSU, the University of Idaho and land grant universities of surrounding states. For many years, UI agricultural faculty have held joint and adjunct teaching and service appointments in the CVM, making major contributions to the professional curriculum. As part of the long standing relationship between Washington and Idaho with regard to veterinary education, the UI Caine Veterinary Teaching Center provides attractive, highly-rated experiences for fourth year students who desire significant on-farm exposure to large dairy, cow-calf, feedlot and small ruminant operations. Since the early 90’s, the Combined Program in Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine has offered highly qualified WSU undergraduates majoring in animal sciences the opportunity for pre-admission to the veterinary professional program. Preadmission aids in attracting and retaining highly qualified candidates with specific career interest in production animal medicine.
The WSU CVM in conjunction with the WSU Department of Animal Sciences and the Honors College has established the Honors Early Admit Pre-veterinary Program for students interested in working with agricultural animals. This seven-year program leads to the doctor of veterinary medicine degree after satisfactory completion of the curriculum. It consists of three years of unique, honors-based, undergraduate pre-professional education in animal sciences followed by the four-year doctor of veterinary medicine professional program.
The CVM employs a full-time student recruiter who travels the region to establish long term relationships with high school career counselors, pre-veterinary program advisors and pre-veterinary clubs. Having a background in livestock agriculture, part of her mission is to provide information on the many career opportunities in veterinary medicine. Agricultural animal faculty also participate in yearly recruiting trips to neighboring states (Nevada, Wyoming, Montana) in order to attract students with specific interests in agricultural animal practice.
Cougar Quest is a university-sponsored academic summer camp for students entering grades 7-12. For six days, students live on campus and enjoy getting to know many of the world class programs at WSU through interactive workshops. Incorporating hands-on activities to challenge and retain the interest of bright students, several sessions introduce students to agricultural animals and their husbandry, with the intent of encouraging them to consider careers in agricultural animal veterinary medicine.
The CVM recently joined with WSU Extension to fund a faculty position targeted at veterinary outreach.
Western University of Health Sciences
The admissions process uses a two “threshold” process. Files are reviewed by the faculty and acceptable candidates over a threshold are put into the “interview” pool. Candidates who are interviewed and found to be acceptable are then put into an “admit” pool. Candidates are selected from the “admit” pool to meet the college’s diversity goals, which include food animal interest. So far offers have been extended to all applicants in the “admit” pool who have indicated a food animal or public practice interest.
Last Modified: 7/10/2012