Rowan University School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) will receive assistance and educational aid from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA). The decision was announced by the department on March 1 and comes in the midst of a nationwide veterinary shortage.
The school will be the first veterinary school in the state. Rowan SVM students living in-state will have access to more affordable education. Students who complete this program will obtain a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, the first to be offered by the state of New Jersey.
Amar Patil is a New Jersey state veterinarian and director of NJDA’s division of animal health.
“Right now, we are having difficulty hiring veterinarians for the state… I also know that the private practitioners, the clinics and veterinary hospitals are also facing difficulties hiring… there are no applicants or very few applicants when jobs are announced. This will really help with the situation in New Jersey as well as in the U.S,” said Dr. Patil.
Veterinarians have warned Congress about the shortage and its consequences for years. The deficit was exacerbated by the pandemic. Social distancing precautions caused vet care to take longer, more people adopted pets or noticed medical problems in those they already had, vets and vet techs — a largely female demographic — left the field due to lack of childcare and many retired.
The Atlantic listed low wages and burnout as the most popular reasons for people moving out of the field. Citing a 2020 survey conducted by the American Animal Hospital Association, there is a 23.4% turnover rate for vet techs.
Founding Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Matthew Edson talked about the shortage and the difficulty in mitigating it, due to the cost and time it takes to establish a school.
“I think having a new veterinary hospital and a brand new campus here on the West Campus is also going to bring in a whole lot of jobs for the area,” Dr. Edson said.
Patil also emphasized the potential economic benefits the school could have for New Jersey, specifically South Jersey, with possible out-of-state students coming just to attend the school.
The partnership between the school and NJDA means that when the school begins holding classes, Rowan veterinary students will have access to the department’s resources. This includes the department’s Animal Health Diagnostic Lab as well as the other lab services such as virology, bacteriology and post-mortem examinations.
“So instead of us building all of that here, we partnered with NJDA to allow our students to access the facilities and all the capabilities of their lab… We’re sharing resources between the two entities,” Dr. Edson said.
The new school will become No. 34 in the country and the sixth on the East Coast, once the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education accredits it.
“It would be pretty cool to be a student who got to be the first graduating class from the first vet school in New Jersey so I expect we’re going to have a whole lot of interest,” Dr. Edson said.
According to both Edson and the NJDA’s press release on the partnership, classes for the veterinary school are set to begin in the fall semester of 2025 with 70 students, with the program expected to expand to 90 students per class in the years following.
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