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Dual degrees increase veterinarians' options
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Some veterinary students are going the extra mile academically and experientially to prepare themselves for careers improving food animal production.
Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine is in its sixth year of a dual-degree program designed to prepare future animal health leaders. Dr. Skip Jack oversees the program that allows students to earn their doctorate of veterinary medicine and a master of science degree together in five years, rather than separately in six.
The master's degree is in veterinary science with emphasis in production medicine. Production medicine traditionally involves beef, dairy, swine or poultry, and includes education in areas such as agricultural economics, statistics, agricultural engineering and immunology. Students in the program use their elective time in the senior year and the entire fifth year to specialize in one of these areas for the master's degree.
"From the beginning of the program, we also have included course work in aquaculture," Jack said. "Last year, options in wildlife health and food safety were added, recognizing the role veterinarians have in the health of free-ranging species. Veterinarians also are vital for the healthy and high-quality supply of animal products for human consumption."
Janelle Pavur Tomlinson, who grew up on the Gulf Coast and in Oregon, decided to pursue the dual degree with an emphasis on aquaculture. She plans to receive her doctor of veterinary medicine degree in 2002 and her master's in 2003.
"I got in the program because I wanted to be different from the traditional veterinarian and be even more involved in helping farmers bring their animals to market," Tomlinson said.
"An extra year means a lot more than an additional year of book learning. It allows us to do more when we go to do internships than when we are studying for our DVM," she said.
Dr. Brooke Bobby-Pace received her doctorate in 2000 and has just completed her additional year working with dairy farms around the country and in Canada.
"I spent a lot of time doing record analysis and nutrition work (rations), helping with management decisions and Standard Operating Procedures, and conducting management meetings," Bobby-Pace said.
"The additional year provided the opportunities to see many different ideas for treating cows. The year also afforded great contacts for future needs and questions, but very little in terms of financial assistance," she said. "Generally, we are not paid for our work during the year."
The extra mile is not limited to the additional year of study and the extensive travel. Students are responsible for most of their travel expenses as well as graduate school tuition.
"We have received some financial support from pharmaceutical companies and are continuing to build an endowed travel fund to help students in the dual-degree program, and to help bring in veterinarians to share their expertise with all veterinary students at MSU," Jack said. "This program offers so much for the students and the production animal industry, so we don't want expenses to hinder the program's future success."
For more information, contact: Dr. Skip Jack, (662) 325-1311