State Investment in LSU School of Veterinary Medicine Helps Address National Vet Shortage
March 07, 2023
Widening the Veterinary Education Pipeline
An initial $2.2 million state investment in the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine is propelling the school toward a bold goal of almost doubling admissions by next year from 120 to 200. Increasing admissions would help to meet a critical workforce need with clear implications for not just health, but also for a safe and sustained food supply, state and national security and Louisiana’s thriving horse industry, estimated at over $2 billion.
By the end of the decade, the United States is expected to be short at least 15,000 veterinarians. While this shortage of care and expertise isn’t great news for pets and those who care for them, the wide-ranging work that happens at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine hints at much broader ramifications. In research and service, the school supports the second-largest driver of Louisiana’s economy—agriculture—where the biggest contributors, after forestry, are chickens and cows for food, and horses for recreation. Animals large and small, including livestock, pets and wildlife, receive treatment for disease and injury at the school, which also provides diagnostic testing to keep herds healthy and guard against animal-borne diseases crossing over to humans.
The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine is the only veterinary school in Louisiana. Many clients become supporters, donors and advocates. One of them is Kathleen Clucas, who closely follows what she calls “LSU’s groundbreaking research” on laminitis as she had a horse with the life-threatening condition. Another is Eric Sunstrom, who is on the dean’s advisory board.
“The LSU vet school provides an essential service to the community and a workforce that is very loyal to Louisiana,” Sunstrom said. “Three-fourths of our state’s veterinarians are LSU alumni. So, the more LSU can graduate, the more we can keep and spread out to rural areas where it can be very hard to find a veterinarian.”
“I spent 37 years protecting our country, facing down adversarial forces around the world, but the LSU vet school takes on a different mission: It goes after and protects us from what we can’t see, can’t smell and can’t hear. That’s why we need to not just sustain but grow out the capacity of the vet school to meet the challenging needs of the state of Louisiana, and from a national security perspective. We know future pandemics will come from animals, just like bird flu, monkey pox and swine flu. Without the LSU vet school, we’d be at risk.”
Lieutenant General Russel Honoré