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PHOTO RELEASE: Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine Announce Bold Community Medicine Program; Supporting Veterinary Practitioners, Rural Communities

East Lansing, MI Today, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine (MSU CVM) announced a new community medicine program, connecting veterinary students to animal welfare organizations and local animal shelters who are in desperate need of veterinary services. In the coming months, veterinary students will be able to travel in a mobile veterinary unit to underserved communities to better support local animal shelters, while increasing their own professional skill sets.

At MDARD, we re committed to supporting our veterinary community. They re on the front lines of protecting animal health and welfare and need support as demand rises for veterinary services. This community medicine program is designed better to support communities and their need for animal care while enriching the education of future veterinary professionals and ultimately helping pets find their forever homes, said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM, MS, DACVPM. This program helps to ensure animal shelters can meet their requirements for licensing and adequate care.   

Today s veterinary students are preparing not just to treat a wide range of animal patients and conditions, but also address significant challenges in the field of veterinary medicine. We re proud to offer these future leaders the opportunity to enhance their leadership skills, develop an understanding of local communities statewide, and network with potential future colleagues in the field of shelter medicine all while honing their technical abilities by assisting with the surgical care of animals in need, said Director of the MSU Veterinary Medical Center Kelley Meyers, DVM, MBA. We re thankful for MDARD's support on this important project.

It is no secret Michigan needs more veterinarians. Veterinary practitioners across Michigan have requested support to treat high patient volumes and have adequate veterinary staffing and resources to maintain local animal health and welfare. The outpouring of requests from veterinarians is why establishing the community medicine program is so critical.

Through the upcoming mobile veterinary unit, veterinary and veterinary nursing students can gain experience in routine surgeries while assisting overburdened organizations especially by supporting procedures such as spays/neuters within animal shelter medicine.

This community medicine program will also enhance the current educational model of the MSU CVM by exposing students to a wide spectrum of veterinary care and creating opportunities to engage with local communities, while also improving patient outcomes.

Over the course of three years, the program has been designed to:

  • Support areas overburdened by high patient-to-caretaker volumes, especially through procedures such as spays/neuters within shelter medicine
  • Expose students to underserved communities and new career pathways
  • Improve access to veterinary care and patient outcomes by offering additional medical support to animal welfare organizations

Healthy animals are the foundation to healthy communities. By strengthening the state s ability to respond to animal diseases and increasing the access to veterinary care, it will lead to greater public health. The community medicine program will inspire veterinary and veterinary nursing students to invest in underserved communities and ensure they have the skill set they need to start their professional careers, benefitting all Michiganders.