AAVMC reports overseas applications on the rise


Washington — A decrease in veterinary school applicants is a direct result of the U.S. government's failure to supply adequate funding to colleges, authorities say.

WASHINGTON — A decrease in veterinary school applicants is a direct result of the U.S. government's failure to supply adequate funding to colleges, authorities say.

Dr. Larry Heider

Although hard statistics are not readily available to prove the decline of returning applicants, officials say it is an issue that propels the need for upping accredited schools' funding and capacity.

Dr. Ronnie Elmore

"The real concern is the future, with the Caribbean schools increasing their class sizes," says Jean Sander, associate dean of student affairs, The Ohio State University.

Dr. Andrew Maccabe

While the U.S. market demands more practitioners to fill laboratory, biomedical, research and food-supply positions, the nation's resource — the students —are being exported.

Overseas veterinary schools are beefing up the curriculum and enrolling more students than ever.

Applications by students who didn't make the cut the first year they applied to veterinary schools is down and can be expected to continue to decline if U.S. schools cannot increase the number of available seats, according to Dr. Larry Heider, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC).

"While enrollment has remained consistent the past few years, the number of applicants has gone down especially for the group of students who do not get accepted their first try," Heider says.

There are more options for aspiring veterinary students, now whereas in the past, if a student did not make the cut, they made their resumes more attractive and applied the following year.

"The Caribbean and Canada lays claim to many students who would have made it into veterinary school if there were more seats to offer," Heider adds, stating that he doesn't want to complain too loudly since he was a dean of a Canadian veterinary school for seven years.

Ronnie Elmore, Kansas State University (KSU) associate dean for academic affairs says more non-residents are applying to multiple U.S. colleges, making the number of national applicants look higher than the actual number.

"Non-residents are applying to multiple schools as they didn't do that as much in the past," Elmore says. "Students want to make sure they get into a veterinary school and don't lose time if they don't get in at the first college of their choice."

Students meet with Elmore if they did not get accepted to KSU to learn how to become more competitive.

"We do take transfer students from foreign schools," Elmore says. "If a student has applied multiple times without success, going to a foreign school isn't a bad choice. They can always come back to KSU as a transfer student."

Veterinary school hopefuls often phone AAVMC for tips of improving their applications, to ask what steps they should take and to get their name on the tongue of the accredited college of their choice, says Jessica Wootton, AAVMC administrative assistant.

"After talking to them about what makes an attractive application, the students often ask why there isn't information about Ross or other Caribbean veterinary schools. I don't think many students or their parents fully understand what being AVMA accredited means," Wootton says. "We explain to them what accredited is and direct them to the AVMA for more information.

The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn) doesn't accept transfer students from non-accredited schools, says Gail Luciani, Penn's director of communications.

"We don't accept transfer students from non-AVMA accredited colleges, and it is more difficult for graduates to get a job in the states with a degree from a Caribbean school," Luciani says. "But with schools seeking accreditation, students applying to these colleges may not think there's much difference attending college outside of the United States."

While Heider says he is happy students have other options, he is concerned with certain aspects of the education students who leave the U.S. receive.

"We stand strongly with the accredited schools," he adds. "Most U.S. veterinary schools are at capacity and highly qualified students are turned away."

The Program for the Assessment of Veterinary Education Equivalence (PAVE) and the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG) state boards will be one more hurdle these students will have to conquer before they can practice medicine in the United States.

"There is some question with the non-clinical training students receive in the Caribbean," says Dr. Andrew Maccabe, AAVMC associate executive director. "And those are the areas the U.S. really needs veterinarians.

With increased need for qualified practitioners, the U.S. needs to put a bigger investment veterinary medicine; considering the profession is a national resource, Heider says.

"There are many highly qualified students applying to our school," Sander, says. " Funding continually gets cut, so having the Veterinary Workforce Act funded would greatly help."

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