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ISU Swine Medicine Education Center Receives Approval from Board of Regents

December 13, 2010

Dr. Butch Baker, ISU Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, (515) 294-9358
Dr. Locke Karriker, ISU Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, (515) 294-2283
Dr. Pat Halbur, ISU Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, (515) 294-6970
Ms. Tracy Ann Raef, Veterinary Communications, (515) 294-4602, traef@iastate.edu


Ames, Iowa – During its meeting last week, the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, approved a new Swine Medicine Education Center at Iowa State University.

The center will be the first in the nation dedicated to providing veterinary students and practicing veterinarians from across the United States and around the world with extensive hands-on experiences and education in swine health and production. As the top hog-producing state in the country, Iowa is the perfect location for a center focused on keeping pigs healthy. “Veterinary medical education in North America is evolving towards a model where the core curriculum is taught in each of the 28 veterinary colleges during the first three years and then those students who chose to specialize have the option to go to other veterinary colleges for a portion of their clinical education in the fourth year,” said Dr. Pat Halbur, chair of the Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine at Iowa State. “Most of the colleges of veterinary medicine, including ISU, provide outstanding clinical education in companion animal medicine; however, many of the veterinary colleges that are not in states with intensive livestock production face a challenge having enough food animal focused faculty and access to appropriate modern production operations to provide the type of education students need. The approval of the Swine Medicine Education Center at ISU will further enhance our current program and provide the capacity for ISU to be a national resource for education, outreach and applied research in swine production medicine.”

Partnering with the swine center will be an Iowa-based, nationally recognized veterinary practice with extensive expertise in modern pork production. Many of the education modules produced by the Swine Medicine Education Center will be taught in various stages of the pork production chain in facilities owned by the Audubon-Manning Veterinary Clinic. “That’s a tremendous opportunity for students to gain practical, real-world experience in modern pig production,” said Dr. Butch Baker, senior clinician at Iowa State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “Learning to treat and manage disease in large pig populations is a critical skill for new graduates to have. The center will provide Iowa and the country with some of the most highly trained new graduates focused on pig health.”

The need for a center is urgent, as the shortage of food animal veterinarians continues. Many veterinary colleges are not replacing swine-focused faculty as they retire or leave their universities. During the past few years, ISU has seen a rise in the number of veterinary students from other U.S. colleges seeking more education and training in swine medicine. That trend will continue as students try to obtain experience and training outside the curriculums offered at their institutions.

The veterinary college at ISU is unique in that it is one of the few veterinary colleges that offers a comprehensive food animal medicine education. Although the center’s focus will be on swine medicine, the college has several programs and partnerships designed to provide students with practical experience and training in beef, dairy and small ruminant production medicine. In speaking before the Board of Regents, Dr. John U. Thomson, dean of the college, emphasized the college’s commitment to training students in all areas of food animal medicine, including swine medicine.

Now that the Regents have approved the proposal, the next steps will be modifying facilities to accommodate students, organizating and structuring of the curriculum, and fundraising efforts. “When the center is fully operational, the annual cost will be approximately $250,000, at least half of which will need to come from the pork industry,” said Dr. Locke Karriker, center director and associate professor of production animal medicine at ISU’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The center is expected to accept students in the 2011/2012 academic year.