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A weekend of learning isn’t enough

Utah’s lack of schools makes meet a teaser

SHARE A weekend of learning isn’t enough

Carrie Galyean looks forward to this weekend when nearly 3,000 veterinarians from around the globe will visit Salt Lake City to educate themselves about their profession.

Now if Galyean could just persuade a handful to stick around for the next few years and teach her what she needs to know to become a licensed veterinarian.

No matter how much fun those vets have at the 137th annual convention of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Saturday through Wednesday, that isn't likely to happen.

So, Galyean will continue to do what every would-be vet from Utah must do — attend veterinary medical school outside the state.

Galyean, an Alta High School and Utah State University graduate, will return to Pullman, Wash., this fall for the second of four years of graduate school she'll need before becoming a full-fledged vet.

Washington State University is one of a handful of Western colleges where Utah's top veterinarian candidates usually end up. Colorado State University in Fort Collins attracts a number, as does Oregon State University in Corvallis, the University of Kansas in Lawrence and the University of California-Davis.

In all, 27 U.S. colleges and universities offer programs in veterinary medicine accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. But none are in Utah.

"It's a concern, especially because you want to be considered a resident so you don't have to pay out-of-state tuition," said Galyean, who is spending the summer as an assistant to Draper veterinarian D.T. "Buzz" Marden. "I will come back here (to practice) when I do finish."

Galyean is one of several pre-veterinary students graduating in 1999 who qualified to have the out-of-state portion of her tuition paid for by the state of Utah.

The program, managed by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), helps Utah students in veterinary medicine, optometry and podiatry attend out-of-state colleges without having to pay out-of-state tuition. The three schools that participate in the professional student exchange program for veterinary students are Washington State, Colorado State and Oregon State.

The program is a huge help that saves Galyean about $10,000 a year, she said.

"Most veterinary schools will not accept you unless they have a pretty good indication you have some (financial) support behind you," said Clell Bagley, an extension veterinarian, student adviser and professor in Utah State University's pre-vet program.

"They don't want to take you without money."

The average vet goes to medical school for four years, which can cost as much as $150,000, in addition to the expense of an undergraduate degree, Bagley said. A first-year vet can expect to make no more than about $35,000, he said, although annual salaries higher than $70,000 are possible down the road.

USU now has about 120 students in its pre-vet program through its department of animal, dairy and veterinary sciences, Bagley said.

Of the half-dozen students who graduated from that program last year, all but one now attends veterinary medical school at Washington State, Galyean said.

Brigham Young University has a similar pre-vet program.

Warren Hess, president of the Utah Veterinary Medical Association, said there has been no serious effort to start a veterinary medical school in Utah. The lack of one has not prevented Utahns from pursuing the profession, and there is no shortage of vets in the state, he said.

"I don't think the fact that there is not a veterinary school here is a deterrent by any means," Hess said. "Utah doesn't have a dental school and we don't have a shortage of dentists, either. They (pre-vet students) can certainly get accepted places."

E-MAIL: zman@desnews.com