Arizona postpones vet school launch to 2017

Opening this fall is deemed impractical pending the outcome of a COE site visit

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The University of Arizona will delay the opening of its veterinary college until the fall of 2017, the interim dean announced today.

Arizona initially planned to welcome its first class of veterinary medicine students in 2015, but the date was pushed back one year pending a site visit from the accreditation-granting Council on Education. COE representatives conducted an inspection in January, but their decision has not been released, leading to another postponement.

“As you know, we have proposed a major paradigm shift in how future veterinary medical practitioners will learn and we expect the AVMA Council on Education will be diligent in review, in part because of the innovations we propose,” said Shane C. Burgess, Ph.D., interim dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine.

“As responsible educators, we don’t want to open the program for enrollment until we have a definitive decision from the AVMA Council on Education,” he said. “Therefore, our target now is to open our doors in the fall of 2017.”

Arizona wants to offer what Burgess calls an integrated education model.

“Though originally planned as a distributive model, Arizona is no longer doing this,” said Bethany S. Rutledge, director of administration and communications. “Students will instead do their training on UA campuses in Tucson and Oro Valley and then complete clinical training in their final year at UA facilities statewide.

“Students will also do externships at participating veterinary clinics and other locations.”

Arizona, which has not accepted any student applications, hopes to open the nation’s 31st veterinary school. The two newest programs, at Midwestern University in Glendale, Ariz., and Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn., were launched in 2014.

Texas Tech University has proposed establishing a veterinary school as well, an idea strongly opposed by Texas A&M University.

Burgess saw an upside to the second one-year delay.

“Thanks to funding from the state of Arizona, we can use the time and the funding to create a spectacular One Health facility for the education of next-generation veterinarians and the research and prevention of human and animal diseases,” he said.

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