It may have taken the epidemic to shed light on the importance of veterinary medicine.
As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, when most people worked from home or left their jobs, there was an explosion in the adoption of companion animals. One National Survey Of the 5,000 families surveyed, nearly 20% have owned a cat or dog since the onset of the epidemic, and most of them indicate that they plan to keep them.
The adoption has led to an increasing demand for veterinary care, said Ken White, dean of the College of Agricultural and Applied Sciences at Utah State University.
Between Utah’s growing human population and “those who find solace in having a pet and a companion, the amount of veterinary work for the state of Utah has just gone through the roof,” he said.
To better meet the demands for care and increase educational opportunities in the state, Utah State University, in partnership with Washington State University, is set to establish its own College of Veterinary Medicine.
The projects form groups of 80 students over time, compared to 30 at the university’s existing partnership with Washington State, in which students complete a two-year foundation study at Logan-based school and the final two years at Pullman, Washington. Of the 30 students who receive half the training at USU, 20 are Utah students.
“Utah ranks 42 out of 50 in the number of veterinarians per capita. So we’re definitely not keeping up with the 20 Utah students who are graduating right now. .
In a presentation to the Utah Board of Higher Education on Friday, USU President Noel Cockett said there was a need for more veterinarians in research fields.
“For example, we have Institute for Antiviral Research It is currently working on treatments and vaccines for COVID and other viruses. They use laboratory animals as models for human pathogens, primarily where our human pathogens originate, ”he said.
According to National Institutes of Health, of human pathogens, originates in 61% of animals. “This is the case of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic, brucellosis, Lyme disease and rabies,” USU records say.
Cackett said the workforce needed veterinarians to protect staff clinics and animals in large-box pet stores and the US Department of Agriculture’s regulatory functions such as meat grading. “
What is the cost and timeline for a vet school at USU?
According to a proposed timeline presented to the Higher Education Board, the start of a veterinary college in the state of Utah is at least two years away. The first group will graduate in 2028. In the meantime, Utah students will continue to participate in the 2 + 2 program with Washington State.
Projects are expected to complete construction of veterinary science and clinical buildings by 2025, which will cost an estimated $ 80 million. Instead of building a veterinary hospital, clinical training of students takes place in existing medical practices and animal facilities in Utah. The training is supervised by veterinary medical professionals, who are considered USU faculty.
Currently, Washington State receives $ 1.7 million in state funding from 20 Utah students to cover the difference between in-state and non-resident education. About $ 340,000 of other funds go to WSU annually as students move through the program.
“The DVM-sanctioned school at USU will retain that funding and bring an estimated $ 14.6 million to our state and local economies,” university records show.
USU officials estimate the annual state appropriations for veterinary school are about $ 20 million annually, which is lower than the average for schools in seven other states, including $ 49 million for Colorado State University in the 2020 funding year.
Under the proposal, White said the first group could be 40 students, building 80-student groups over time.
The university begins the accreditation process through the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Veterinarians at risk
USU already has faculty preparing students for the first two years of their education under the 2 + 2 plan, but ultimately needs to expand to 320 students annually moving into a four-year program, White said.
Mental health and wellness services are already a significant support in place for current veterinary students.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention In the United States, published in 2018, veterinarians concluded that suicide has increased the risk of death, spanning more than three decades.
A study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association showed that female veterinarians were 3.5 times more likely to die of suicide than male veterinarians. The study found that most veterinarians who died by suicide worked in small animal practices, and one-third of veterinarians died from drug poisoning.
Although the reasons people take their lives are complex, the study points to risk factors such as demands for veterinary practices, educational debt, poor work-life balance and access to euthanasia for animals.
White said admission to the vet school is highly selective and attracts many students of “Type A” personality.
“They use to be at the top of their class and now they are one of 30 students that are at or near the top of all classrooms and so there is a lot of pressure. We felt that direct access to counseling was the key to maintaining a healthy student body in our school. , ”White said.
Counselors help students cope with stress and tend to their mental health. Students learn techniques to better cope with stress and study so they can cope with their workload and emotions in a “healthy and productive way,” White said.
2 + 2 experience
White said USU’s partnership with Washington State in 2012 was “a great collaboration. I commend colleagues at WSU. They are a wonderful partner.”
Students who have spent the first two years of the program at Utah State have done well. Of the 21 students on the Dean’s List, in the Class of 2022, 10 are from the USU group. Seven of the top 10 students are from the Utah program.
“The only thing we don’t know is the credit for those graduates, the doctorate in veterinary medicine, actually going to Washington. Those guys don’t get any credit for Utah,” Cockett said.
Other factors have weighed in on USU’s decision to start its own four-year college, White said. USU prepares 30 students to complete their degrees at Washington State and has no control over students who have evaluated tuition rates.
“In the 10 years that we have been involved in that school, we have experienced a 25% increase in tuition. You know, as you know, it allows us to chart our own course and make our own decisions, ”he said.
Benefits to Utah
If the proposal is implemented, Utah will become the 26th state to have a veterinary college, Kockett said.
“I want to point to another point of pride for Utah. We now have four large professional doctoral schools, medical, dental, legal and veterinary medicine,” he said.
White said establishing a veterinary college will encourage more research collaborations between USU and the University of Utah.
“There is obviously a lot of synergy between the findings of the medical schools and the four years of veterinary medicine.
There is also an opportunity for study in the field of biomedical research.
“I think it’s better for the state from an economic standpoint and to be able to attract more businesses in the area because we have graduates with high-demand expertise to support those efforts,” White said.