Over the summer the MSU College of Agriculture has worked hard to implement the Montana Cooperative Veterinary Medicine Program in conjunction with Washington State University (WSU).
Montana has historically been challenged to provide rural areas with veterinarians, specifically food-animal veterinarians. Due to high debt rates, vet school seems unattractive to many recent college graduates.
Entry into an accredited school of veterinary medicine is very competitive and is limited by both space and residency. Montana residents can now gain access to veterinary programs through Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE’s) Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP) program. The schools involved in the WICHE program for veterinary medicine program are Colorado State University, Washington State University, Oregon State University and University of California-Davis.
Currently, Montana has no input on the selection of the students from Montana into these veterinary schools and sends significant monetary support to the receiving state to cover the costs of educating its residents in each of the four years they are enrolled. Montana currently supports nine WICHE positions annually between the four schools, and the majority of the applicants go to either CSU or WSU.
The WSU admissions director indicated that about 13 to 15 applicants from Montana who apply for WICHE positions at WSU each year can be categorized as high-quality applicants. Therefore, attracting 10 high-quality applicants from Montana seems achievable, with potential for expanding to 15 in the future.
The Montana Cooperative Veterinary Medicine Program could potentially change the outlook of Montana veterinarians for quite some time. Now, Montana State University will finally have input on selection of students accepted into veterinary school and have a bigger impact with their monetary support.
Jen Haugland, a former MSU student who spent the last year promoting the program, “The new Montana Washington Cooperative Veterinary medicine program, commonly known as the 1+3 Vet program, was tailor-made to be a direct benefit to MSU and all Montanans.” Haugland continued, “The program offers a direct pipeline for future Montana residents to apply and receive in-state tuition cost while experiencing the benefits of a nationally accredited veterinary school.”
Students admitted to the cooperative program will complete their first year of veterinary school on the MSU campus. “The students will work with the already established WWAMI human medical program for classes such as virology and histology,” explained Haugland, “New teaching positions will also be established to fill in any gaps that exist, like a new pathologist.”
Haugland further commented, [pullquote align=”right”]“The working relationship with WSU will allow MSU to be the best learning environment for future veterinarians that hope to serve Montana and it’s livestock producers.”[/pullquote]
The first year of vet school for the students will be in Bozeman and taught Montana State University professors. To be accepted into the Montana Cooperative Veterinary Medicine Program, students must be Montana residents. The veterinary medicine program is a 4 year program with the first year spent at MSU and the remaining 3 years on the WSU Pullman campus. Students will remain in the state for an additional year and resources of both universities will add value to their education.
The fourth year clinical rotations will incorporate veterinary practices in Montana, which can lead to job recruitment for food-animal veterinarians in underserved rural areas of Montana where there is need for veterinarians.
Before the Montana Cooperative Veterinary Medicine Program, MSU did offer a pre-vet program and pre-vet club. These opportunities were available for students interested in attending veterinary school. They were able to visit vet schools that participate in the WICHE program and Dr. Rebecca Mattix was the acting advisor. Any student interested in applying for the 1+3 program is encouraged to contact Dr. Mattix at email@example.com.