The Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine is celebrating 125 years. Associate Dean Doctor Pat Halbur oversees the college’s diagnostic lab, teaching hospital, veterinary extension and other outreach services that share the school’s expertise with everyday Iowans The Diagnostic Lab handles 50,000 to 60-thousand cases a year, mostly for Iowa livestock producers and pet owners, helping achieve a diagnosis and devising a treatment and control program for the owners. Even before the “vet-med” school was officially founded in 1879, ISU had a four-year course that combined agriculture and veterinary science. Halbur says the college is best known for its expertise and major contributions in discovering and solving livestock diseases. But the whole field of veterinary medicine is also evolving, as more Americans live in towns and cities, fewer on the farm. Increasingly, people are interested in getting care for pets, so the school’s teaching hospital takes cases referred from a three- or four-state region. Board-certified veterinarians teach in specialized fields including animal ophthalmology, dermatology and cardiology. Halbur says there is still a tremendous demand for people preparing to work with livestock, so-called “food-animal” veterinary medicine. Relatively few veterinary colleges are still producing food-animal vets, and though ISU graduates more than anyone else, it’s still not enough. The school’s looking at ways to send out more trained livestock veterinarians, to serve the needs of Iowa and the entire US. Right now it can be tougher than being admitted to Harvard, with just 125 openings every year and a field of applicants that can vary from 500 up into the thousands. Once you get that veterinary degree, he says “so many doors open,” from becoming a specialist like an animal dermatologist, a vet for “companion animals,” or working with livestock. There are also government jobs from food-safety positions to teaching. Halbur says the degree offers lots of professional diversity. Halbur says there are three to 5 jobs waiting for every graduate, and the school’s in the process of increasing the size of the annual class in future years to meet the demand.
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