TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - To help alleviate the veterinarian shortage across the country, the University of Arizona will open the state’s first public college of veterinary medicine next school year.
To celebrate this achievement, on Wednesday, Nov. 13, UArizona invited community members to see it for themselves.
Among the dozens that attended were Rebekah Morgan and Tory Vineyard, two University of Arizona students eager to enter the field of veterinary medicine.
“When I was growing up, we always had a ton of pets around,” Morgan said. “But, as I got older, I kind of realized that a lot of people say they love animals, [but for me] it’s kind of part of the bigger picture.”
Morgan and Vineyard are in enrolled in UArizona’s veterinarian science and molecular and cellular biology programs and are set to graduate next semester. Then, they hope to attend the University of Arizona’s new College of Veterinary Medicine.
Morgan said her classmates have a similar goal.
“I think a lot of them actually came to the U of A because of the promise of a vet school,” Morgan said. “For a while, a lot of people didn’t think it was actually going to happen.”
After the university received the green light from the American Veterinary Medical Association to open the college, students were excited. Julie Funk, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, said what sets the program apart is that it offers a three-year program instead of a four-year program.
“We are not building a teaching hospital,” she said, “So, students will be working in real-world practice settings with veterinarians, learning their skills.”
She hopes students who learn locally will stay in Arizona when they enter the workforce.
“Right now, it’s estimated that there’s approximately three jobs for every new graduate. There just aren’t enough veterinaries to fill the demand,” Funk said.
The new college will welcome its first class fall 2020. More than 100 students will be accepted into the program, which was made possible thanks to an $8 million grant from the state back in 2017. It was used to renovate a building in Oro Valley that houses the program.