The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech has moved its Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine from College Park, Maryland, to Blacksburg.
The center, which has more than two decades of experience training veterinary students for fields outside of traditional private practice, will continue as one of the distinctive programs differentiating the college from its peers.
“The move allows the center to have a closer relationship with the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program in Blacksburg with greater access to students pursuing the public and corporate veterinary medicine track,” said Dr. Valerie Ragan, director of the center.
In 2009, Ragan took the helm of the center following more than two decades of experience in public and corporate veterinary medicine. She and Dr. Bess Pierce, who was previously an associate professor of community practice in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, are joining the college’s Department of Population Health Sciences.
They will continue the center’s work to teach courses, advise students, coordinate senior veterinary student clerkships, assist veterinarians wishing to transition into public practice, and develop programs to advance the veterinary profession in government, industry, and the nonprofit sector.
“We’ll continue to have a big footprint in both states,” Ragan said. “We’re here and available for students on the Blacksburg campus interested in public and corporate veterinary medicine, but the college will still maintain operations in College Park with its close presence to the nation’s capital. Veterinary students will continue to have opportunities for clerkships in Washington, D.C., and the important state and federal agencies employing veterinarians in the area.”
According to Dr. Cyril Clarke, dean of the veterinary college, the move will decrease the need for frequent faculty travel between the college’s Maryland and Virginia campuses.
The move to the Department of Population Health Sciences will also strengthen the center’s connections with the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Public Health programs and advance the college’s commitment to One Health, which brings together experts from various disciplines to address human, animal, and environmental health issues.
Clarke explained that the reorganization will establish a strong foundation for the center.
“We recently established a memorandum of understanding with the American Veterinary Medical Association and the National Association of Federal Veterinarians to help increase the demand for public practice veterinarians and to provide training to prepare veterinarians for careers in public and corporate veterinary practice,” Clarke said.
“The center will be key to achieving this goal, as it enhances and expands its activities in the areas of public health, public policy, international veterinary medicine, organizational leadership, and the One Health initiative.”
In order to maintain its Washington, D.C. presence, the center will keep three faculty positions at its College Park campus.
Dr. Nathaniel Tablante, associate professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Maryland, will work with Dr. Siba Samal, associate dean for the college’s Maryland campus, to advance the center, advise pre-veterinary students, and reenergize the college’s engagement with corporate poultry medicine.
Ragan will continue to coordinate the college’s international activities related to public and corporate veterinary medicine, including a long-standing partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service and the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture to improve veterinary infrastructure and build capacity in Armenia.
Pierce, who is also one of the highest ranking veterinarians in europe with the U.S. Army Reserve Veterinary Corps, will assist with the center’s international activities and continue to serve as director of the college’s Center for Animal-Human Relationships, which conducts research and outreach on the human-animal bond.
The veterinary college has a tracking curriculum that allows students to choose from one of five tracks that build on their general veterinary education. Although many students choose the small animal, food animal, equine, or mixed species track, students interested in veterinary careers outside of traditional private practice have the public and corporate veterinary medicine track available to them with courses taught by faculty members at the center.
According to Ragan, the center will continue to revisit its curriculum with assistance from key stakeholders over the next few years.
“We have an active advisory board with monthly phone calls and annual face-to-face meetings with key stakeholders who are advancing the public and corporate curriculum,” said Ragan, who explained that the 10-person advisory board included representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, private practice, and current students.
In 2010, the center made several curriculum changes, including the addition of a problem solving course, following a survey of the college’s alumni who followed the public and corporate veterinary medicine track in veterinary school. Ragan is planning for the center to undergo a new strategic planning process to guide activities and focus areas for the next five years.
“We know from American Veterinary Medical Association surveys that about 25 percent of veterinarians are working in the public/corporate area and about 30 percent of veterinarians are looking to change their careers paths,” Ragan said. “This presents a tremendous opportunity for the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine to be at the forefront of a changing profession.”
The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine is a leading biomedical teaching and research center, enrolling more than 700 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, master of public health, and biomedical and veterinary sciences graduate students. The college is a partnership between the land-grant universities of Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland. Its main campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, features the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and large animal field services which together treat more than 79,000 animals annually. Other locations include the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Virginia, and the Gudelsky Veterinary Center in College Park, Maryland.