SDSU & Univ. of Minnesota Create Partnership to Address Veterinarian Shortage

SDSU and The University of Minnesota created the "Rural Veterinary Medical Education program"

BRANDON, S.D. – Across the United States, areas are seeing a shortage of veterinarians, but one South Dakota university is creating a program to turn this around.

“I love being a veterinarian, the most important part for me is I get to help animals, and I also get to help people too,” said Dr. Jennifer Stevens, Horizon Pet Care veterinarian.

Many rural communities throughout the US are not feeling the same love.

According to veterinary experts, less than two percent of practicing veterinarians go into rural care, schools don’t have enough students graduating with the desire to enter rural practices, and money is one of the biggest reasons.

“Debt is definitely something because, as you astutely pointed out, its four years of an undergraduate degree. So, wherever you go for that, then you have an additional four years. We all know professional school is more expensive than undergraduate school so that will accumulate over time,” said Dr. Stevens. “You may not be making as much money in a more rural area because those folks just can’t afford high-value or high dollar procedures on their animals.”

In an attempt to change this dynamic, SDSU and The University of Minnesota are combining forces to create the “Rural Veterinary Medical Education program” or the “2 + 2” program.

It is designed to lower tuition for students by about $100,000 and give them more opportunities.

By allowing them to take the first two years of their veterinary degree at SDSU and complete their degree at the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine in St. Paul.

“That can be a huge help for those students, especially to those looking go to into more a more rural practice. But, at the end of the day, it’s a big help for any veterinarian or veterinarian student if they’re able to have less debt when they graduate,” said Dr. Stevens.

With less debt maybe a little more puppy love will be coming to rural areas.

SDSU says the first 20-cohort students will begin the program in August of 2021.

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