Another veterinary education partnership out West

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A 1+3 program between Montana State University and Washington State University is ready to launch.

Montana students can apply online through Oct. 2 via the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges’ Veterinary Medical College Application Service. Classes will begin in August 2014 (see JAVMA, Nov. 1, 2012).

The Montana Legislature and Gov. Steve Bullock approved the creation of, and funding for, the program during the 2013 legislative session.

Ten Montanans will be chosen for the new Montana Cooperative Veterinary Medicine Program, according to an Aug. 4 MSU release.

Dr. Rebecca Mattix, a Montana State University teaching professor and preveterinary adviser, said in the release that the admissions committee—made up of Montana State and Washington State faculty, and representatives from the Montana veterinary and livestock industries—will identify students who have strong ties to the state and want to work in food animal medicine and other areas of emphasis across the veterinary profession.

Students will take their first year of classes in Bozeman, Mont., and then go to Pullman, Wash., to study for three years at WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Montana State boasts new facilities, including the university’s Animal Bioscience Building and containment laboratories that offer training in biosafety-related issues associated with infection in livestock, wildlife, and other animals.

The co-op program is modeled after the WWAMI Medical Education Program, which allows students from Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho to enroll in the University of Washington Medical School and take their first year of classes in their home state.

Montana has more than 29,000 family farms and ranches covering 66 percent of the state’s land mass, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Montana has 2.5 million cattle and calves with roughly $1.4 billion in annual livestock sales, and the livestock industry accounts for half the state’s agricultural economy.

Livestock veterinarians play a crucial role in that industry, but Montana has a shortage of 278 livestock veterinarians, according to the Montana VMA. Besides that, a majority of the 125 Montana food animal veterinarians are nearing retirement.

The hope is the new program will provide affordable access to a veterinary medical education and help rebuild the veterinary workforce in rural Montana, Dr. Mattix said in the release, by supporting rural communities and family ranches with new veterinarians in underserved areas.

WSU benefits, too, by educating more large animal students and having a greater reach in the Western region.