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Veterinary education forced to change strategies
As state budgets are slashed and endowments drop, DVM schools seek ways to adjust


DVM360 MAGAZINE


"It will be critical for Congress to provide meaningful financial resources to our U.S. colleges of veterinary medicine so that facilities can be built to permit increased class size, appropriate more funds for the National Veterinary Medical Services Act of 2003 and provide funding for scholarships to support veterinary medical students working toward a joint public health degree," Pappaioanau testified.

"These students work night and day, dedicated to learning this knowledge, and we owe it to them to have a career that is both intellectually rewarding and financially rewarding," adds Thompson.

Tennessee will deal with its state funding cut by leaving several vacant positions unfilled. Probably about 35 positions will be affected overall, including eight faculty positions, 21 staff jobs, four resident positions and two graduate-student slots. Most of these positions already are open or are term appointments set to expire, so Thompson says students shouldn't notice a change in their educational experience. But the lack of manpower will increase duties for the remaining work force, he says.

"Morale is good here, but I worry about them losing confidence in the economy," Thompson says of his staff.

Though students will continue to have hands-on learning at Tennessee, Thompson admits that endowed funds have taken a hit in the stock market and will mean a drop in the amount of student scholarships that can be awarded.

Other colleges in the same boat include Michigan State University's veterinary program, which will have to cope with a 50 percent funding cut to its school's agriculture and extension programs.

University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine (UC-Davis) Dean Bennie Osburn says cuts proposed under the state's worsening financial situation are the worst he's seen in 40 years and the 2008 cuts the school is already facing are "too deep to be able to maintain the current level of operations." Thirty positions at UC-Davis are empty and can't be filled, and the school has yet to get work of what lies in its future for 2010.

Dr. Glen Hoffsis, dean of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, likens his school's situation to "A Tale of Two Cities" in his latest campus letter, saying at the same time the school is building a new state-of-the-art, $58 million small-animal teaching hospital it's also anticipating a 10 percent operating budget cut for next year.

"This, coupled with the 14 percent reduction we endured last year, would place the college in considerable jeopardy," Hoffsis wrote.

But Thompson says he has accepted the fact that things are unlikely to improve. Instead, he says, veterinary education will have to change to meet the challenges.

"It won't get any better, but I think all the deans are very service-oriented," he says. "I think everyone is working really hard to get their colleges out from underneath this storm."

Leaders speak out



"The educational model at our veterinary colleges has served us well for decades, but it needs to change if we are to be positioned to meet future societal needs. We will work closely with the AAVMC and other organizations in coming months to reshape our educational system."

— DR. W. RON DEHAVEN, AVMA EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT


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Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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