Utah State’s Newly Announced Four-Year Vet Program Will Benefit Producers
Utah State University was founded as the Agricultural College of Utah in 1888. By 1890, it was teaching its first courses in veterinary science allowing students to learn modern veterinary practices to better manage and care for their livestock.
While these classes were preparing students to care for their own livestock, Utah State was not a true school of veterinary medicine as it only offered veterinary programs for students working on an undergraduate degree -- not an actual Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.
Move forward 121 years, and Governor Gary Herbert officially signed a bill in 2011 establishing an official veterinary school ran jointly with Washington State University where students could receive their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine to work as veterinarians. This program is known as the Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah (WIMU) Regional Program in Veterinary Medicine, since it also allowed other states to participate.
Under the WIMU program, Utah State accepts 20 resident students, and 10 nonresident students. These students complete two years at Utah State in Logan completing coursework for their DVM, then move on to Washington State University for their last two years to complete the clinical portion. A major benefit to this program is that Utah resident students only pay in-state tuition for all four years, despite having to complete half of their degree in Washington.
The success of the WIMU program and good relationship with Washington State University has benefited Utah State students and increased interest in the program, so much so that Utah State lobbied the state legislature for funding to help establish its own independent veterinary school and support it going forward to help meet the demand for the program. In March of 2022, this funding was finally established by the state, meaning that Utah State would now have its own complete four year vet school where students could stay in Utah for the duration of their DVM.
This new program also means that Utah State will be able to eventually accept 80 students total instead of 30 as the program gets up to full speed. Half of the 80 students will be Utah residents.
This new school was established to address the problems caused by the shortage of veterinarians in Utah. Utah is ranked 42nd in terms of veterinarians per capita, which is especially concerning as livestock is reported as the most dominant industry in Utah agriculture. This shortage leaves many veterinarians overworked, and in turn, leads to increased costs to producers. It also makes it harder to schedule timely appointments.
The establishment of this complete four year vet school should solve these problems and benefit producers in both Utah and surrounding regions in a variety of ways. One way is that the clinicals will likely involve students working side-by-side with current vets in the region.
This means that vets will have extra help which can speed up appointments and lower the workload on the vets themselves. Another benefit is that as the school is established, it is expected to attract more biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to the area due to the school’s research and graduates. This will help improve the veterinary knowledge base in the area and bring more professionals to the area like dieticians and other specialists.
The ultimate goal and benefit to producers though, is the idea that as students graduate in the state, they will want to open or join practices in the state. This would help decrease the workload on veterinarians, improve the producers access to them and lower costs for the producers.
Utah State University’s news releases noted that the full four-year vet school is expected to accept its first student fall of 2025. The current WIMU program will continue until then. You can read more about the school's future plans HERE.
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