MSU Veterinary program’s future on the table


By Tom Lutey, Billings Gazette

Everything one needs to know about veterinarians can be gleaned from the back of a convention hall when veterinarians meet.

“If you look at all the people in front of you, most of them have gray or white hair. They’re aging,” said Terrill Todd, past president of the Montana Veterinary Association. “I really wonder how many of the younger generation will step in to fill their shoes.”

Large animal veterinarians, the kind that keep the pulse of Montana’s $3 billion livestock economy, are in short supply. There are more than 1,000 counties in the United States with no veterinarian committed to livestock, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

In Montana, the shortage has led to a new university program to produce more large animal veterinarians. The state doesn’t have a veterinary school, but it has partnered with Washington State University and Utah State University in a program that guarantees 10 slots in the WSU veterinary program for Montana State University students, who also get a chance to complete a year of their post-graduate studies at MSU before transferring to Pullman, Wash., for their final three years. Utah State students study there for two years before leaving for WSU.

The program has only been around for a few months at MSU. The American Veterinary Medical Associations Council on Education will visit MSU this spring to make sure instruction at the university’s programs match up with WSU. Utah State’s program was accredited Tuesday.

But sometime before MSU accreditation takes place, the Legislature will decide whether to fund the veterinary program in future years. In 2013, lawmakers gave the veterinary program $1 million, enough to get the classes started and fund courses for a single year, which ends this spring. MSU will ask the 2015 Legislature for $1.65 million, enough to fund the program for two more years.

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Source:  Billings Gazette

Posted by Jami Howell

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