Ohio State using donation for veterinary program to increase internships, lower student debt
It's predicted that there will probably be a huge shortage of veterinarians in the U.S. by 2030. The projected shortage is there will be about 15,000 fewer vets than the total needed to care for small animals.
Currently, in Ohio there are about 3,500 veterinarians and some of them only work part time.
"Today we are in a workforce shortage, and we are facing a looming crisis if we don't address it by 2030,” says Dr. Rustin Moore, Dean of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Moore said there are only 33 colleges of veterinary medicine in the U.S., which he blamed for part of the shortage. He added that many pet owners are demanding more care for their pets, whom they consider a family member.
“The wait times are long,” said Moore. “The emergency rooms are full. And that's really related primarily to too few veterinarians to provide the care to the pets and other animals of the people in Ohio and across the U.S."
Each year OSU graduates about 165 students from the four-year veterinary school program.
To help address this expected shortage, OSU is using a $1.7 million donation from Mars Veterinary Health, which is part of the Mars, Incorporated family of brands, to increase its internships by two and expand $25,000 scholarships for seven students.
“It might seem like a relatively small number, but what it does is it actually helps with distributing the workload, so that it's a more sustainable program, so that hopefully more people will choose to go into that, and then on into specialties like, you know, specialty residency training programs,” says Moore.
Moore says to help make it more affordable for students, the university has also limited tuition increases to no more than 2% annually and helps students decrease their debt by $40,000.
“Seven or eight years ago, our students had over $200,000 of debt on average just from their veterinary school upon graduation,” says Moore. "We have focused heavily on raising philanthropic dollars for scholarships, increasing that figure about 730% from $370,000 a year to $3.2 million," says Moore.
Over the last 138 years, Moore says Ohio State has graduated about 10,000 veterinarians and he’s optimistic many more will earn their degrees to meet demand.
"We need to provide more care through provision of more specialists and more primary care veterinarians,” says Moore.