OSU Vet School Programs Expand Career Options

Each year about 2,500 professional veterinarians graduate from the 28 veterinary colleges in North America. That might not be enough to protect the nation from animal diseases that pose threats to human health, according to a report released last month by the Government Accountability Office.  

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has been studying the issue for several years and noted potential shortages of veterinarians in particular areas, especially large animal practice and public health. According to the AVMA, the shortage has "placed the nation's food supply at risk and could hinder efforts to protect humans from zoonotic diseases." A 2006 study by the Food Supply Veterinary Medical Coalition concluded that between now and 2016, the demand for food supply veterinarians will increase 12 to 13%, while the actual number of such veterinarians will decrease 4% each year.

It has been estimated that contaminated food causes between 6.5 million and 33 million illnesses, according to the Government Accountability Office, and 9,000 human deaths annually in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In Ohio more than 45% of human diseases reported to the Ohio Department of Health are considered zoonoses--any infectious disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans--and dangerous to public health.

At The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, two programs have been created to specifically encourage students to consider careers in these critical areas: large animal practice and public health.

First, the Early Commitment Program, a partnership with the Department of Animal Sciences in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences offers early admission status to junior and senior animal sciences majors who are interested in specializing in large animal medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine. This program better prepares students for careers in production medicine prior to entry into the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program. As a result of the program, there will be more veterinarians in food supply medicine, specifically professionals who have the skills and knowledge to serve modern livestock agribusinesses. More information is available on the Department of Animal Sciences Web site.

The second program is a partnership with the College of Public Health. Students interested in a Master's of Public Health can specialize in Veterinary Public Health. The director of the Centers for Disease Control once called this program a "model for the country." It allows students in the program to gain a broader understanding of the epidemiology of zoonotic diseases. Professionals with training in Veterinary Public Health will have the ability to develop and execute public and private health programs designed to prevent and control zoonotic diseases in both animal and human populations. More information is available on the Veterinary Public Health Program Web site.

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