Michigan State University is working hard to promote food animal medicine among its veterinary students. Its Food System Fellowship Program, now in its 4th year, allows for a training experience for veterinary students in food-animal practice or with organizations such as the Michigan Department of Agriculture, USDA, etc. working on programs like tuberculosis or scrapie eradication. The program is funded by a grant from the university in addition to industry partners such as animal health companies, USDA, the MVMA, Michigan Farm Bureau and other companies and organizations. Read more here .

Karen Bastek is a 3rd year veterinary student at Michigan State who participated in the Food System Fellowship Program. Bastek, who had no farm background, volunteered to work on a dairy for a summer for experience before she went to veterinary school. She notes that the veterinarian who worked for the dairy she volunteered at was very influential in her decision to pursue food animal medicine.

Bastek received a degree in Animal Science and then in veterinary school participated in the Fellowship program, interning with the Michigan Milk Producers Association where she learned about the dairy industry and worked with MMPA on tuberculosis and milking procedures projects.

Third year veterinary student Tracy Petzke also had no previous farm background and has an animal science degree. She interned with MMPA and says she was able to visit numerous dairy farms and veterinary practices. She surveyed dairy farms and says she learned everyone’s role on the dairy from the milker to the cow movers and more.   She also worked at the MSU beef farm doing breeding soundness exams and research.

This is an invaluable program for the food animal veterinary industry as it allows students to get firsthand knowledge of careers in veterinary medicine. What I like about it is that it’s not geared solely toward a food animal practice career, but it also showcases other careers veterinarians with food animal medicine backgrounds can participate in such as industry and governmental organizations.

MSU veterinarian Dan Grooms, DVM, told me that there is funding for two more years of this program, but he’s not sure of its future after that. It would be a shame to lose such a program when it is obvious that it is giving veterinary students – whether they have a previous farm background or not – a real look at food animal medicine and the different career opportunities it has.

Geni Wren
Bovine Veterinarian Magazine