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The College of Veterinary Medicine is focused on making veterinary medical education more affordable and accessible to Arizona's citizens. In addition to educating veterinarians, the program will collaborate with existing UA academic and research programs in the health sciences and agriculture to improve animal and public health.
The program will help address veterinarian shortages in underserved communities and segments of the veterinary profession, which will make Arizona more attractive to animal production, retail, biomedical and bioscience companies.
Arizona needs more veterinarians
Arizona is currently the 14th most populated state and has the second fastest growth rate in the United States. Currently, Arizona students must compete for veterinary school admission as out-of-state, non-resident students, or seek admission to private University programs that tend to have higher tuition costs. Many veterinary schools at state-supported universities privilege resident applicants, which limits opportunities for out-of-state applicants.
The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reports the mean four-year debt for the class of 2016 graduates who filled those seats was $138,067. Some students report carrying more than $350,000 in educational debt. Without a public, in-state veterinary medical education program, Arizona students are paying higher costs through non-resident or private tuition and incur more debt.
The need for more veterinarians in Arizona is particularly acute for counties and cities outside Maricopa County, especially in rural communities and tribal nations. Veterinarians who graduate with less financial debt are better able to practice in rural areas, where the client base tends to be smaller and significant travel time may be required to provide ambulatory service to horses, cattle, and other large animals.
Benefits for students
Arizonans who graduate from the College of Veterinary Medicine will be more likely to remain in Arizona. They will be able to attend veterinary school in closer proximity to their homes, family, and friends who help provide the social network needed to support CVM students throughout the rigorous professional curriculum. A 3 calendar year professional curriculum, and completion of distributive clinical rotations in Arizona communities where they have family or friends, will reduce living expenses. Greater affordability and access to a veterinary medical education will reduce debt, leaving more income available for discretionary spending after graduation.
Benefits for Arizona
More Arizona veterinarians will ultimately improve both animal and public health throughout Arizona. The college will also have a significant economic and agricultural impact on the state, enabling Arizona’s $23.3 billion agriculture industry to continue to thrive. Development of well-trained veterinarians for the state offers a solution to anticipated veterinarian shortages. State tax dollars currently utilized to support veterinary students to attend out of state schools, approximately $1.5 million each year, could stay in Arizona. Arizona communities will benefit from faculty, staff and students who live in state while completing the professional curriculum and distributive clinical rotations.