Okay-State School of Veterinary Drugs introduces new initiatives aimed toward rural, Indigenous, Native and tribal college students

The SPARK program will seek to address the shortage of rural veterinarians. (Archive photo by Allen Eyestone | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State College of Veterinary Medicine introduces two new ones Initiatives:: the Summer Program for Budding Kansas Rural Veterinarians and the Specialty Program for Recruiting Indigenous, Native, and Tribal Students.

Both SPARK and SPRINTS are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Hana Johnson, recruiting coordinator, said the college initiated SPARK to bridge the gap between people in veterinary medicine school and those who want to go into rural practice.

“There’s a shortage of veterinarians in general, but especially those who want to go into rural practice, and that’s because rural practice is really a lifestyle,” Johnson said.

The SPARK program allows participants to shadow veterinarians in rural communities to see firsthand what their potential careers might look like. Johnson said the majority of their partner clinics are in western Kansas.

“Many of [the veternarians]If not all of them are alumni of the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine, ”said Johnson.

Johnson said the SPARK program is intended for students looking to prepare for veterinary medicine school but is open to anyone who is at least 18 years old.

According to Dr. Callie Rost, Assistant Dean for Admissions, the purpose of these two grants is to seek to meet the needs of the veterinary profession and society.

“We recognize the need for rural practitioners, and the SPARK scholarship will expose students to large and mixed animal practice and allow them to visit clinics and learn from veterinarians,” said Rost.

If face-to-face attendance is not available for the summer, the college hopes to take virtual visits to large and mixed animal practitioners in Kansas to share their lifestyle and the variety of exercise options available to attendees.

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In addition to SPARK, the college is introducing SPRINTS for Tribal, Native American, or Indigenous students who are in high school and college and who are 18 years or older.

SPARK offers many programs including transportation and accommodation for Vet Med ROCKS, the college’s annual summer camp.

“The number of applicants for veterinary programs from indigenous, indigenous and tribal populations is extremely low,” said Rost.

National race and ethnicity data in the veterinary field shows that indigenous, indigenous, and tribal students are among the lowest enrolled populations.

“Knowing that the state of Kansas, and even the Midwest, has a rich native history, and knowing that the indigenous people are not represented in veterinary medicine is another void that we have identified and addressed,” said Johnson.

“We recognize the urgent need to diversify and connect with people who may not always find themselves represented in the veterinary field,” said Johnson. “Even if the participants do not necessarily follow a DVM, there is still an opportunity to understand the diverse career opportunities in animal health.”

“Our goal with the SPRINTS grant is to provide opportunities to learn more about the veterinary profession and the DVM program at KSU College of Veterinary Medicine,” said Rost.

Another goal of the college is to develop mentoring relationships with the CVM faculty and current DVM students on the K-State campus.

Rost said the university has great opportunities and mentoring potential for participants in the Native American Student Body and the Indigenous Faculty and Staff Alliance. Rost said SPARK and SPRINT would hopefully develop relationships with these two organizations.

“SPARK and SPRINT participants will gain veterinary experience and help with application in due course,” said Rost. “It would be great to see some successful applications for both groups in the DVM program.”

Applications for the SPARK and SPRINTS programs are possible until May 1st.