Lincoln Memorial University (LMU), in Harrogate, Tenn., plans to open a veterinary college in 2012, upping the U.S. veterinary school count to 29. The university says it will be the first to offer a six-year option for students to earn a bachelor's degree and a DVM, knocking two years off the typical stretch. Officials say the shorter time to earn a degree would reduce tuition costs and be an incentive for students to apply.
LMU notified the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools of its intent to initiate a College of Veterinary and Comparative Medicine (CVCM).
LMU is located in the Cumberland Gap region of the Appalachian Mountains, close to the Kentucky and Virginia boarders. The need for veterinarians in the rural region is vast considering the livelihood of local farmers and residents depend on animals, according to LMU.
“The proposed CVCM will seek to fulfill the mission of Lincoln Memorial University of serving the health and wellness needs of animals and people within rural communities, especially within the Appalachian region, by providing an educational opportunity to Appalachian residents,” said Randy Evans CVCM dean. “The CVCM will make veterinary education more affordable to deserving students by offering a high-quality accelerated six-year combined pre-veterinary and doctoral-level veterinary medical curriculum when compared to the present eight-year curriculum model.”
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture identified four areas in the state that are eligible for federal assistance in filling a shortage of large-animal veterinarians, including Hawkins, Greene and surrounding counties near LMU. Large-animal medicine is a core focus for the LMU program. The federal program, which provides financial assistance to help vet students pay up to $25,000 in tuition a year in exchange for service in underserved areas, underscores the need for quality trained veterinarians in Tennessee and throughout Appalachia.
LMU says it has investigated the feasibility of a CVCM for more than a year. Peter Eyre, CVCM executive dean and strategic consultants, LMU trustees and administration visited schools in U.S. and Canada to learn more about initiating a college. As part of the pursuit of the CVCM, LMU will seek accreditation at Level VI as required. LMU's accelerated program is modeled after veterinary medicine curriculums in European universities, which offer six-year programs. Time is shaved off the typical eight-year program by requiring fewer liberal arts course requirements, according to LMU.
“The proposed CVCM would be an asset to LMU’s Division of Health Sciences,” said Dr. Ray E. Stowers, vice president of health sciences and dean of LMU-DCOM. “Students enrolled in the proposed college would have the opportunity to learn from the medical school faculty and share state-of-the art facilities with the entire division. We look forward to enrolling students in this exciting new program.”
The new College of Veterinary and Comparative Medicine will emphasize work in the field with local practitioners. Each student will learn on the job in one of 30 local veterinary offices. LMU will not have a veterinary hospital; students will use existing facilities. The CVCM would be part of the LMU division of health sciences. In addition to its veterinary faculty and facilities the proposed college would share the faculty and facilities available to the other disciplines within the division.
LMU’s School of Allied Health Sciences includes a veterinary technology associate and bachelor degree program accredited by the American Veterinary Medicine Association. LMU veterinary technology program graduates qualify to take the national veterinary technician licensing examination.
Tuition hasn't been set yet, but anecdotal estimates released by the university say it would likely be in line with out-of-state tuition at veterinary schools at state universities at $40,000 a year.