St. Paul, Minn.-The University of Minnesota's (UM) College of Veterinary Medicine has unveiled an endeavor to recruit students with food animal interest earlier in their academic career.
ST. PAUL, MINN.—The University of Minnesota's (UM) College of Veterinary Medicine has unveiled an endeavor to recruit students with food animal interest earlier in their academic career.
The project, called Veterinary Food Animal Scholars Program or VetFAST, enables undergraduate students to obtain early admission to the veterinary school at the end of their first year and allows them to begin graduate school their senior year.
The program is designed for post-secondary students interested in food animal medicine who would be coming to UM's College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences for their pre-veterinary studies.
"The college is very much committed to maintaining a strong food animal program. We feel we have a lot to offer in the dairy and swine area especially, and also in poultry," says Larry Bjorklund, undergraduate recruitment coordinator for the College of Veterinary Medicine.
A significant impetus behind the program is the national shortage of food animal veterinarians reflected in the university's graduates, according to Bjorklund.
In spring 2003, 16 of about 75 graduates specialized in large or mixed animal. Yet the school had about 62 job vacancy notices for food animal jobs in the upper Midwest. Compare that to one decade ago, when one-third of UM's graduates specialized in large or mixed animals.
"As with most of the veterinary schools, we've seen a declining number of students interested in the (food animal) track within the program," Bjorklund says. "This is really an attempt to attract people to our program who want to do food animal medicine and attract students to the College of Agriculture to do their pre-veterinary coursework and pull them to this kind of career."
With the new VetFAST program, university officials expect to admit up to five students per year. Students are expected to have strong academic credentials from high school, including rank within the top quarter of their graduating class and an ACT composite of 28 or higher. Their first-year college GPA must be approximately 3.4 or higher.
If accepted into the program, they would start the DVM program their fourth year of college.