Meeting the Veterinary Medical Education Needs of Texas

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) has said twice and clearly that there is no need for a second college of veterinary medicine in Texas. These conclusions were made after in-depth, unbiased studies of veterinary medical education needs in our state. The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (TAMU CVM) has addressed all of the THECB recommendations as related to veterinary medical education.


THECB 2009 + 2016 recommendation:
More veterinarians

TAMU CVM:

  • Increased class size by 30; Will be increasing by another 16; Resulting in a class size of 178; Can increase more if needed

More to consider:

  • Does Texas want or need 238 new DVM graduates every year (178 + 60)?
  • The TAMU CVM can increase and decrease its class size as needed, based on the economy and job market; it takes 5–6 years to change the number of graduating DVMs.

THECB 2009 + 2016 recommendation:
More rural + food animal veterinarians

TAMU CVM:

  • Largest number of food animal + mixed animal DVMs in the US heading for rural communities—33% of class of 2017;
    40% of class of 2018
  • Robust mentoring and educational opportunities for students focusing in these areas

More to consider:

  • Simply increasing DVM student numbers does not guarantee an increase in the numbers of rural + food animal veterinarians.
  • But, according to AVMA predictions, the projected national need for food animal exclusive veterinarians is 10 per year, and the TAMU CVM is meeting that with 8–9 students per year in its food animal track.

THECB 2016 further recommendation:
Fund the Texas Rural Veterinarian Incentive Fund (approved, but not funded)

TAMU CVM:

  • Highest quality, most affordable DVM education in the US
  • Debt at graduation = $84,800 vs. $164,800 (national avg.)
  • 2nd lowest debt load in US; Best debt to income ratio in the US

More to consider:

  • Student debt is a national crisis and the TAMU CVM helps its DVM students.

THECB 2009 + 2016 recommendation:
More diversity

THECB 2016 further recommendation:
Create baccalaureate programs in veterinary science that allow greater scope of practice

THECB 2016 further recommendation:
Consider a proposal designed to specifically produce large animal veterinarians in an innovative, cost-efficient manner that does not duplicate existing efforts

TAMU CVM + 4 TAMU System University Partners:

  • Cited as the most innovative veterinary medical education initiative (MOAs with Partners—5 students each)
  • Each partner has significant livestock programs + focus
  • Each partner is within 1 hour of an under-served area
  • Each partner meets unique regional + statewide needs
  • Each partner meets diversity needs (2 Hispanic serving + 1 historically black university)
  • Expanding pipeline for Texas veterinary workforce needs—recruiting + mentoring young people from rural communities who are more likely to return home

More to consider:

  • We intend to build each program out over time, creating a veterinary academic network throughout Texas—all tied to and supported by the excellence of the TAMU CVM.
  • Distributed models of veterinary medical education result in higher costs, more complexities, and have the highest tuition and debt load in the US.

What is the need for DVMs in the Texas Panhandle and West Texas?

  • There were 34 total student applicants from the area in 2017.
  • TAMU CVM job fairs to connect employers from the area with DVM students have been held. The open positions were:
    • 6 small animal, 4 mixed animal, and 0 food animal in 2017; and
    • 8 small animal, 7 mixed animal, and 0 food animal in 2018.
  • West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) is the first of the 4 TAMU System partnerships to be built out.
    • $90 million investment at WTAMU by TAMU System — veterinary medicine + agriculture
    • $22 million VERO (Veterinary Education, Research, & Outreach) Facility
    • 5 nationally renowned faculty members with expertise in food animal veterinary medicine
    • Additional $2 million to support these faculty over the next few years to ensure their early success
  • Evidence of early success:
    • $250,000 federal (NIFA) grant: “Texas Panhandle & Plains Rural Veterinary Practice Revitalization”
      • Dr. Dee Griffin and his team are leading the effort
    • Increased students from rural communities of the Texas Panhandle and Plains
      • 1 student/year from WTAMU over previous 10 years vs. 9 students in the 1st year of partnership

Lowering admissions and academic standards is not the solution.

  • The veterinary curriculum is rigorous—it’s not fair or right for the young people of Texas to be admitted under lower standards and then have them fail, accruing debt in the process.
  • Lowering admissions and academic standards will be problematic for attaining and retaining accreditation and will not produce the quality of veterinarians that Texas needs.
    • Remember, rural veterinarians must know more, not less, to provide excellent care for many species.
  • Distributed veterinary medical education models, as propoed for a 2nd state-supported veterinary school, result in higher costs, more complexities, and have the highest tuition and debt load in the US.
    • They started with off-shore, for profit universities, with minimal capabilities for clinical training.
    • They experience challenges attaining and maintaining accreditation.
    • They are more expensive for a number of reasons, such as the accreditation requirement that practices meet the same high standards of a teaching hospital (drug inventory, imaging, etc.).
    • Similar to the Calgary model:
      • Affordable for students because its highly subsidized by the Canadian government
      • 2nd most expensive veterinary school in Canada
      • Not as successful as the established, traditional model in Saskatoon in rural graduate numbers

There is a finite Texas budget and a 2nd state-supported veterinary school would undoubtedly require considerable, recurring state support to launch—and even more over time and into the future to sustain.

  • A 2nd state-supported veterinary school would surely have a negative effect on TAMU CVM funding, directly and
    indirectly.
  • One high-quality veterinary college is what is best for Texas, taxpayers, veterinary medicine, livestock industries, and
    Texas DVM students.

In 2016, the THECB recommended the consideration of a “proposal to specifically produce large animal veterinarians in the most innovative, most cost-efficient manner that does not duplicate existing efforts.”

  • There are only 30 colleges of veterinary medicine in US.
  • Not every state has a college of veterinary medicine and no state has 2 state-supported veterinary schools.
  • TAMU CVM is ranked 1st in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), 4th in the nation, and 10th in the world.
  • TAMU CVM is meeting the needs for more veterinarians, more rural + food animal veterinarians, and more diversity; helping students with their debt; creating veterinary science baccalaureate programs; working to produce more large animal veterinarians for Texas through our partnerships with 4 other TAMU System universities.

TEXAS SHOULD CONTINUE TO SUPPORT AND GROW
THE EXCELLENCE ALREADY ESTABLISHED AT THE TAMU CVM.


» Download a PDF of the Meeting the Veterinary Medical Education Needs of Texas one-sheet (Feb. 2019)