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Food Animal Vets Are Coming

Roy Fogwell
Dept. of Animal Science

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Stephanie Roggenbuck Kayla Stomack Jackie Rowley Christine Kostesich

In fall of 2010, the College of Veterinary Medicine will consider the fifth group of applicants as Production Animal Scholars. Before they even apply to the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), these applicants have academic excellence, extensive experience with management of food animals, and experience with food animal veterinarians. The main goals of the program for Production Animal Scholars are to produce more and better food animal veterinarians.

Who is a Production Animal Scholar?
At Michigan State University this is a pathway into CVM that avoids the competition with a large and diverse pool of applicants. Production Animal Scholar applicants only compete against other Production Animal Scholar applicants. Production Animal Scholars is a rigorous academic option within the Department of Animal Science focused on improving knowledge of science, management, and finances of food animal production. Successful applicants must desire to be veterinarians who work with food animals, such as cattle, poultry, sheep, or swine. 

Production Animal Scholars is an undergraduate program that prepares students for a career in herd-based agricultural veterinary practice. In addition to current pre-veterinary requirements, students enrolled in Production Animal Scholars study animal management, farm finance, statistics, and advanced sciences. Coupled with academics, there is also a requirement that these students have direct experience with animal husbandry and management on farms. Even if students do not attend veterinary college, with the additional study in finance, science, and farm experience, this program represents an excellent education for numerous careers.

Production Animal Scholars provides an additional pathway for admission into CVM. Each year after a competitive selection process, up to 10 students who meet the requirements may be granted admission to the professional veterinary medicine program. In 2010, there likely will be more than 10 Production Animal Scholar students who will apply to CVM. For each class of about 100 veterinary students, only about 10 to 20 people are interested in food animals. Thus, there is arguably not an adequate supply of new food animal veterinarians.

Time to Apply
Application to CVM can occur midway through the bachelor’s degree program. Successful applicants can start the professional program in CVM only after completion of their degree in Animal Science. Accepted students must maintain a 3.2 grade point average through their undergraduate studies. Most students apply to CVM after 3 years, spend 4 years as an undergraduate, and then start CVM. Alternatively, a student from an urban area who may show interest in food animals after attending college, will need extra time to complete the experience required for Production Animal Scholars, and may apply to CVM after their undergraduate degree is completed.

Students who are interested in livestock agriculture and veterinary medicine as a career should consider a major in Animal Science with the Production Animal Scholars concentration. The Department of Animal Science coordinates this undergraduate program. Except to major in Animal Science, there are no entrance requirements or selection criteria for a student to be a Production Animal Scholar in Animal Science. However, there will be forthright discussions about professional goals, experience, and academic performance.

In addition to the academic and experiential requirements Production Animal Scholars participate in field trips, seminars, and special clinical experiences. Production Animal Scholars should not be viewed as an easy approach to gain admission into CVM. The academic requirements for Production Animal Scholars are high, the level of work is rigorous, and the standards for admission into CVM are uncompromised relative to regular applicants.

However, for students who satisfy the requirements, there is a huge statistical advantage for Production Animal Scholars for acceptance into CVM. Currently there is a position for every applicant who satisfies the requirements.

Note that the statistical advantages for Production Animal Scholars only apply to CVM at Michigan State University. Importantly, passion for animals and competence with handling animals are not adequate for acceptance into CVM. Passion for science and academic excellence are critical.

Production Animal Scholars participants must have a strong commitment to livestock agriculture. It is not necessary to be raised on a farm to qualify.

Commitment and passion for food animals can be demonstrated with youth activities, family experiences, employment, internships, extracurricular activities, research, or other forms of service or activities within the livestock industry. There are many ways that students from diverse backgrounds may demonstrate a commitment to livestock agriculture.

Students at Michigan State University who are majoring in Animal Science may wish to enter the professional veterinary medical program without involvement in Production Animal Scholars. These students may apply through the regular veterinary admission process and will compete with other applicants for admission into CVM.

All candidates for the professional veterinary medical program, including Production Animal Scholars, will be selected for admission into CVM entirely by the Committee on Student Admission that is based in CVM. Except for letters of reference that students solicit from various faculty members, the Department of Animal Science has no direct role in the admissions process to CVM.

The Departments of Animal Science and Large Animal Clinical Sciences are very committed about this educational opportunity for future veterinarians. In addition, we are enthusiastic and optimistic that this program will help to address the current shortage of veterinarians for food animal production medicine.

If you have questions or seek more information about Production Animal Scholars please visit the academic programs section within the MSU Department of Animal Science web site at http://www.canr.msu.edu/dept/ans/ or contact Dr. Roy Fogwell at fogwell@msu.edu or (517)-432-1385. For specific requirements check the CVM web site: http://cvm.msu.edu/student-information/dvm-program-admissions/production-medicine-scholars-admissions-pathway-1

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