LOGAN, Utah (ABC4) – The Utah Legislature recently approved funding for the new College of Veterinary Medicine at Utah State University. The college will open in the fall of 2024, and when it does, it will be the first of its kind in the Beehive State. School officials believe that, along with increasing academic opportunities for the Aggies, the college will also help ease the shortage of veterinarians that Utah faces.
In the fall of 2024, the College of Veterinary Medicine will open its doors to students as Utah’s first four-year veterinary program. Currently, USU participates in the Washington-Idaho-Montana-Utah Regional Program in Veterinary Medicine. Students spend their first two years of school at USU, then leave for Washington to complete their studies.
“Twenty-five of our 29 counties report livestock as their number one agricultural product,” USU College of Agriculture and Applied Science Dean Ken White told ABC4. “So certainly it is, not only in the tradition of the state, but more importantly, in the tradition of Utah State University. I mean, we started life as an agricultural college. Dean’s pride in USU’s commitment to agriculture was clearly evident in his shoes, blue ostrich cowboy boots with the USU logo on the front portion of the boot shaft.
According to the Department of Agriculture, agriculture brings more than $1 billion to Utah each year. With the vast majority of Utah agriculture based on livestock, veterinarians are needed in the state. However, there is currently a shortage. White explained, “We have a very limited number of vets. We are 42 out of 50 states in number of veterinarians per capita.
For USU veterinarians and professors like Kerry Rood, the idea of allowing more people to study veterinary medicine here in Utah is an exciting prospect. Rood added: “As a veterinarian myself, I understand the need we have for vets within our community and more broadly in the intermountain region.”
That need, White told ABC4, will hopefully be met (at least in part) by the creation of the new college. “We need these new vets, we need them to stay in Utah, we need them to be able to move to some of the more rural parts of the state, and so I think it’s going to be a big boom for Utah’s economy,” White said.
Kerry Rood pointed out that Utah needs more vets for several reasons. While they make sure your dog or cat is healthy, their commitment to livestock health can have a direct impact on your well-being. “This program will also train future professionals who protect our food supply and the safety and quality of our food,” Rood said. He also told ABC4 that veterinarians help public officials make decisions about best practices across the state to ensure livestock raised for food in Utah are healthy and treated humanely.
The first class of the new program will have about 45 students and will eventually grow to about 300 students.