There’s a shortage of vets who care for large animals like cattle, horses and pigs in the United States and officials from the University of Nebraska and Iowa State University have inked a deal they hope will help more Nebraskans earn a degree from Iowa State.
The University of Nebraska does not award a doctor of veterinary medicine degree, but Iowa State University does. Dr. David Hardin, head of the University of Nebraska’s Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Department, says they’ll launch a “strong” recruiting effort to try to sign up students from rural Nebraska who’ll take their first two years of doctoral training in Lincoln, then finish their last two years in Ames at Iowa State.
“Young people from rural communities, there’s a higher liklihood that they’ll return to those rural communities,” Dr. Hardin says. “One of those things to try to address, then, is to try to get as many people as we can from rural communities enrolled in the veterinary school.” Hardin says it’s difficult for retiring vets in rural areas to find a recent vet school grad who’ll take over their practice.
Dr. John Thomson, dean of ISU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, says there’s a great need for so-called “food supply” veterinarians. “The food supply veterinarian really is a broad cross-section that involves everything from epidemiologist to public health to people doing research and then also what many people consider your production-animal medicine or your large-animal medicine,” Thomson says.
For the past three years, Thomson’s been working with veterinary groups in several states to chart the shortage areas. They’ve found vets are needed to care for nearly all animal species — beef cattle, dairy cows, swine and horses. Thomson’s also identified the need for vets at the Food Safety and Inspection Service who examine animals sent for slaughter. “There’s a major shortage in USDA food inspection,” Dr. Thomson says. “There are major shortages there.”
Each year up to 25 Nebraska students will be eligible to enroll in the program, which will start in the fall of 2007. Thomson says that will boost that class of I-S-U vet med students to about 145.
Thomson used to be hands-on large-animal vet before he entered the academic world. He and his father had a veterinary practice in Clearfield, Iowa — a small town in the southwest part of the state. Thomson worked in the Clearfield area from 1967 to 1987. Thomson was the dean at Mississippi State’s vet med college for five years until he returned to Iowa State two years ago to become dean of I-S-U’s college of veterinary medicine.