New program aims at encouraging veterinary students into academic, research careers

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The University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is trying to attract a new generation of veterinarians into academic and research careers with a program offering financial incentives to students concurrently pursuing DVM and PhD degrees.

The school predicts that, with up to 40 percent of faculty retiring from the nation's 27 veterinary schools in the next 10 years, there will be a lack of veterinarians entering careers in academia. Shortages of veterinary scientists are also expected in the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries, according to UC-Davis.

In response to this anticipated shortfall, UC-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is offering the Veterinary Scientist Training Program. The program covers tuition and fees, and provides an annual stipend of $17,000 for at least two students each year to pursue dual DVM/PhD degrees involving up to seven years of combined academic study and clinical training.

The program is made possible, in part, by corporate and private donors. In addition to receiving financial assistance, students could finish their PhD degrees sooner than if they were not part of the program.

"We want students to choose academic and industry career paths," Dr. Bennie Osburn, dean of the veterinary school, said. "This program knocks down one roadblock to advanced training: the cost of staying in school."

Four candidates will begin the program in July 2001. They were selected from a pool of veterinary students pursuing graduate studies in comparative pathology, pharmacology/toxicology, and nutrition.

Future candidates can apply as they enter veterinary school.