University of Alaska Fairbanks to get new vet program

Students in Alaska will have the opportunity to enter a veterinary degree program through a new partnership between the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and Colorado State University.
UAF spokesperson Marmian Grimes said that the new program will help students by giving them better access to veterinary education.

"This program is a ‘two-plus-two’ arrangement designed to allow more access for our students," Grimes said. "Partnering with CSU will give them more potential slots than if they were applying to go there out of the blue. Of course, the students will still be meeting admissions requirements – this just opens more available slots to our students."

According to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, the program is envisioned as a way to ease a shortage of veterinarians in Alaska, and could begin as early as fall 2013. Students in the program will complete two years of graduate-level study in Fairbanks before finishing the final two years of their veterinary education at Colorado State University.

"We want students to come back here," Grimes said. "We have a need for veterinarians up here – there is a high demand for veterinary services because we have lots of animals up here in Alaska."

Local veterinarians have testified that there is a serious shortage of practicing veterinarians in Alaska, which allows more room for burnout and high turnover, according to the News-Miner.

"A lot of the times, it matters where you’re from when youre applying to the vet schools," Grimes said. "A lot of schools have really tough admissions and it can be difficult for a student from Alaska to gain admission in the Lower 48."

UAF had offered a pre-veterinary program for students hoping to apply for veterinary schools in the Lower 48.

At the beginning of November, the University of Alaska Board of Regents budgeted $400,000 for the new veterinary program in next year’s operating budget. According to the News-Miner, the appropriation will be enough to teach up to 20 veterinary students.