Veterinary students are taking their education on the road. Students at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University are going global, utilizing their skills and knowledge by participating in the Global Veterinary Leadership Program.
Drs. G. Gale Wagner, Professor, and Isabel Carbajal, Lecturer, Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, developed the program in response to the changing career goals of veterinary students. Dr. Corrie Brown, Professor, Department of Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, has developed a matching program. In the past most graduates went straight into general veterinary practice. However, today there is a growing number of students who are unsure of which direction to take but they know that the DVM degree will be an asset to their career. Through the success and high visibility of current research and education programs, most veterinary colleges are well positioned to engage industry, government and university leaders in ways to use the program to increase the flow of new ideas and talent throughout the world.
“The program will allow us to engage a few of our students in a process that makes them aware of the vital role they can play in protecting public health and it will better equip them for a successful career in the world community,” Wagner said.
The program is geared toward incoming first-year veterinary students. Each student accepted into the college’s DVM program is sent a letter describing the Global Veterinary Leadership program and given the opportunity to apply. The four to six students selected participate in a preliminary leadership seminar held outside the United States before starting their fall semester.
At the conclusion of the seminar, Wagner provides students with the opportunity to evaluate the seminar and decide if they would like to continue. Those continuing with program will complete 12-18 hours of directed electives in addition to those required for the DVM degree.
Students will also complete either a full-time 9-12 month internship or a 4-12 week externship involving some aspect of veterinary medicine related to food safety and international livestock trade. The assigned internship/externship is company directed and requires the student to respond to practical yet challenging projects and expose them to international career opportunities. At the conclusion of the internship the student will receive a Master’s of Science degree in Veterinary Medical Science; students participating in the externship will receive an international certificate added to the DVM degree expressing the graduate’s knowledge of international veterinary medicine, Wagner stated.
Dr. Wagner is developing corporate support for the program and hopes to create a pool of leading international companies, which are shaping the world’s food supply and interested in fostering a relationship with U.S. veterinary colleges. The network of corporate partners will help support the program by providing up to eighteen students with internship and externship opportunities per year. The participating students will come from a network of several veterinary schools in the U.S. that have expressed interest in participating in the program.
“Selected veterinary students will enter externships with multinational companies that operate within the sphere of food safety and the international livestock trade,” said Lynn Fondon, a Consultant for Brakke Consulting Inc. “The Global Veterinary Leadership Program combines a global orientation, leadership training, language study, with access to study and work opportunities that will prepare veterinary students for the expanding global demand for veterinary expertise.”
Veterinarians today must respond to global issues, which have expanded their role in society. Many countries currently look to the U.S. in developing their own approaches to risk analysis, food safety, and trade policy decisions that directly relate to veterinary medicine. The breadth and quality of the education that veterinarians now receive clearly impacts international trade, Wagner commented.
“The program will combine the diverse veterinary research and education system with our strong national and international network of collaborators to provide globally competent veterinarians who will be needed in the corporate and public sectors of the future,” said Wagner.