on March 24, 2022 at 11:35 am
Starting in 2024, Utah State University students can complete a four-year veterinary degree.
In early March, the Utah Legislature approved $18 million for the development of the USU veterinary program. The money will help to expand it into a full college and fund development of curriculum.
Currently, USU is part of a regional veterinary program. Each year, 30 students are admitted into the program, 20 of whom must be Utah residents. These students complete two years of schooling at USU and then another two years at Washington State University for clinical work.
Not only will the new college allow those students to complete all their schooling and clinical work in Utah, it will also open the program for more students. When it is fully completed, 80 students can be admitted each year.
“We are grateful to Governor Spencer Cox and the state Legislature for supporting the new USU College of Veterinary Medicine,” USU President Noelle Cockett said in a Utah State Today article. “We also appreciate Washington State University’s partnership over the last 10 years with the joint Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.”
In the article, Cockett also recognized the shortage of veterinarians in Utah, specifically in rural areas.
“There are a limited number of veterinary medical programs in the United States and Canada,” said Kerry Rood, a professor and associate department head in the Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences Department. “That’s because it’s fairly costly to run these programs. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of funding and resources, and expertise to form these programs.”
Currently there are a total of 33 veterinary colleges located in the US and Canada.
The process to open a veterinary program at USU started in 2009 when the Utah Legislature provided funding for USU to join the partnership with Washington State.
According to Rood, 10 cohorts have graduated from the program since then, but there was always the question of when they would be able to transition to a full four-year program.
USU hopes to open the veterinary program’s doors in 2024 and be teaching at full capacity the following year.
Because it is what is known as a professional degree, students who are currently undergraduates will be some of the first to be able to apply when applications open in 2023.
Rood hopes the new college will also benefit undergraduate students and provide the university with more research opportunities.
“We believe it will increase enrollment in undergraduate programs and departments that are what we call ‘pre-veterinary programs,'” Rood said. “This is where the actual college will be, so there will be relationships and partnerships that develop for undergraduates that are seeking to enter that program.”
Students also say they are excited.
“I’ve been wanting to go into veterinary stuff my whole life, and the fact that there’s a program here in Utah is really exciting,” said Brianna Enright, a first-year USU student.
“For years, Utahns interested in veterinary medicine were forced to go out of state for training,” Gov. Spencer Cox said in a Utah State Today article. “That’s why we’re so excited and grateful that the Legislature funded the College of Veterinary Medicine at Utah State University. This investment is a long time coming and the new program will serve would-be veterinarians and the public for generations to come.”
Featured photo by: Katie Henderson
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