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The inaugural class of the Integrated Beef Cattle Program. Photo by: Taylor Bacon

OSU Vet Med expands rural veterinary interest/knowledge with IBC program

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Media Contact: Kaylie Wehr | Coordinator, Marketing and Public Relations | 405-744-6740 | kaylie.wehr@okstate.edu

Veterinarians play a critical role in animal health, food safety and supply, public health and education. The current shortage of rural veterinarians has brought many challenges to Oklahoma communities, but the Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine administration and faculty have worked diligently to overcome these challenges and provide effective solutions.

In 2019, the OSU CVM received a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture Veterinary Services grant which led to the establishment of the Integrated Beef Cattle Program for veterinarians to enhance practice management, services, leadership and communication.

“OSU’s Integrated Beef Cattle Program is a cross-disciplinary partnership across veterinary medicine, animal science, agricultural economics and extension,” said Dr. Rosslyn Biggs, OSU CVM director of continuing education and OSU Extension beef cattle specialist. “This program addresses the current challenges in veterinary medicine and puts 20 practicing veterinarians learning alongside 20 veterinary students to help them develop various skills.”

The inaugural class began in January 2022 and finished in October 2022.

“Although we are early in the program, we are starting to see impactful connections between the participating veterinarians and our students,” Biggs said. “Students are participating in externships with veterinarians they met through the program.”

Mandy Lawson, second-year OSU veterinary student, participated in an externship with a DVM she met through the program. Additionally, the program helped fourth-year veterinary student Wyatt Catron prepare for his next steps after completing his degree.

“The benefits I’ve seen from this program have been networking with established veterinarians who are doing the same type of medicine I’d like to practice and the knowledge I’ve gained from the presentations,” Catron said. “Overall, it’s been a really beneficial program and I believe I’ll be a better veterinarian for it.”

Students weren’t the only ones who capitalized on the program’s networking component.

“I don’t know of any other program I could be a part of where I would get to meet so many different people in the beef industry,” said Dr. Megan Beavert. “I now have connections I can call when I need. I know I don’t have to be an expert in everything because I know experts in those fields I can contact. As a new graduate, that helps me better serve my producers.”

In addition to networking connections, veterinarians learned practical skills they can use in their practices.

“The Integrated Beef Cattle Program taught me how to be value-added, not only to our practice but more importantly to our clients and their bottom line,” said Dr. Dalton Newell. “Along with leadership and networking, I look forward to presenters who talk about veterinary medicine as a business. Our job as veterinarians is to take care of people through the treatment of their animals.”  

Students in the program learned valuable, real-world information they can pair with classroom instruction.

“This program has been foundational in bringing real-world production medicine back to the classroom,” Lawson said. “It’s going to be extremely beneficial to have these resources and connections to go back to as I complete my DVM.”

As we look to the future, the need for rural veterinarians is a global issue we must address. OSU’s Integrated Beef Cattle Program seeks to provide greater support and knowledge to the veterinary community in a multi-faceted approach to addressing the rural veterinary shortage.

“We are currently accepting applications for Class II of the program, which is set to launch in early 2023,” Biggs said. “Veterinarians from within the state and outside of Oklahoma are encouraged to apply.” 

For more information or to apply, contact Dr. Rosslyn Biggs at (405) 744-8587 or rosslyn.biggs@okstate.edu. Applications are also accepted online at Integrated Beef Cattle Program Application.

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