- Associated Press - Saturday, January 26, 2019

BROOKINGS, S.D. (AP) - A new partnership with the University of Minnesota aims to lower tuition costs for South Dakota State University’s veterinary medicine students and allow them to stay closer to home the first two years of graduate work.

Students accepted into the rural veterinary program would complete their first two years of graduate courses in SDSU’s department of veterinary and biomedical services before heading to the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine, the Aberdeen American News reported.

Jane Christopher-Hennings, SDSU director, department head and professor of veterinary medicine, said there are bills being drafted in this year’s legislative session that would redirect subsidies from undergraduate programs. SDSU has requested $275,000 yearly for a three-year period starting in 2020 to cover salaries, according to information provided by Christopher-Jennings.

The program intends to focus on needs in the veterinary students’ home areas, specifically for large-animal veterinarians. The proposed program would permit SDSU to annually enroll 20 to 22 veterinary students.

Chanda Nilsson, a veterinarian at Groton Veterinary Clinic, said there is certainly a need and a growing demand for large-animal veterinarians in the area. She noted that it’s more difficult to provide medical care to large animals.

There are 4.6 head of cattle for each person in South Dakota, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. That is the highest ratio in the nation.

Megan Ernst, a veterinarian at New Horizon Veterinary Service in Glenham, said any program that could retain more veterinary students in the state would be beneficial.

“We really do have a shortage here in South Dakota. Especially in this area there is no competition,” Ernst said. “All the vet clinics have more than we can handle. It is not uncommon for us and the surrounding clinics to tell people in need of veterinary service to call another clinic (because) we just can’t fit you in.”

The University of Minnesota admits 105 veterinary students per year and has enough classroom space to accommodate third-year arrivals from SDSU.

“Providing the infrastructure and clinical skill classes during the last two years of veterinary medical school isn’t financially feasible for SDSU,” Christopher-Hennings said. “But providing the classes taken during the first two years is an affordable option.”


Information from: Aberdeen American News, http://www.aberdeennews.com

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