UAF Collaborative Veterinary Program helps Alaskan students by joining forces with Colorado State University

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Published: May. 31, 2021 at 4:58 PM AKDT|Updated: May. 31, 2021 at 4:59 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Getting a degree in veterinary medicine in Alaska has been a notoriously difficult and expensive process for a long time. In order to provide additional opportunities for Alaskans to receive a full veterinary education, University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) launched a collaborative veterinary program, with Colorado State University.

Karston Hueffer, UAF Associate Dean of Veterinary Medicine, provided a breakdown of this program and the state of veterinary education in Alaska saying, “The idea was to really allow veterinary students from Alaska to have a fair shot at going to veterinary school as an in-state student, where prior to our program Alaska students were out of state students everywhere. That makes it really hard to get into veterinary school and it also makes it really expensive. It is still expensive, but makes it even more so.”

Getting into veterinary school is a highly competitive goal. This year 200 students applied to this 14 slot program. This collaborative program is able to makes the prospect less daunting for Alaskans by joining forces with another university.

“Having a full fledged veterinary program would basically be impossible here because we would need a teaching hospital which would be a significant investment of probably a hundred million dollars. It’s very unlikely to happen in terms of having a big hospital, and we also wouldn’t have the animal population,” said Hueffer.

This program is what the university calls a 2 plus 2 professional program, in which students do the first two years in Fairbanks and then move to Colorado State University to finish schooling in their specialized teaching hospitals.

“They have a really big teaching hospital, both large and small animals, and there they get their hands-on clinical experience, while here the first two years there’s a lot of basic foundational knowledge such as anatomy, physiology, all the infectious diseases, nutrition, and that combination between the two programs really allows us to take advantage of our uniqueness up here,” said Hueffer.

Through this collaboration, aspiring veterinarians in Alaska have a chance to set a life helping animals into motion. For more information on this collaborative program, you can visit the UAF Veterinary Medicine website.

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