Arizona gets first vet school

Arizona will open its first veterinary school in 2014, according to news from Midwestern University.

Midwestern University, a private university in Glendale, Ariz., plans to spend $90 million on an academic center and clinics for both large and small animals.

The university says it will hire 60 to 70 veterinary faculty and staff members for the new school, which will welcome an inaugural class of 100 students in fall 2014.

Citing a shortage of animal doctors in rural parts of Arizona, administrators say they are hoping to drive student interest in becoming large animal veterinarians.

According to a news release from the university, Arizona has one veterinarian per 4,100 animals, while the national average is one per 3,500. In three counties (Greenlee, La Paz and Yuma), there are no practicing veterinarians. The shortage is most critical in the large ranching and farming regions of the state, according to the university.

The university cites a projected shortfall of 15,000 veterinarians over the next 20 years. According to the Government Accounting Office, the veterinary workforce is not large enough to guarantee a safe food supply while continuing to manage zoonotic diseases.

The university plans to recruit throughout the state and region, emphasizing recruitment in rural communities with greater needs for veterinarians.

Read more from Midwestern University.