MADISON, N.J. — Nov. 17, 2010 — For the past two years, Pfizer Animal Health has helped to increase interest in livestock animal medicine by giving first- and second-year veterinary medicine students some “hands-on” training in the field.
“We have students who were not previously considering practicing in rural communities and certainly not working with food animals,” says Dr. Mike Nichols, Beef Veterinary Operations, Pfizer Animal Health. “After their externship, the response they give is that this is an area of practice they were previously unaware of. They are appreciative of the opportunity and are now strongly considering entering that type of practice.”
Pfizer Animal Health strongly believes that veterinarians are irreplaceable in the cattle industry. To increase support of this critical profession, the program is aimed at helping first- and second-year veterinary medicine students with a potential interest in large-animal medicine gain the “hands-on” training that they will need to be successful. The first- and second-year veterinary medicine students are placed at participating veterinary clinics to expose the students to the “real world” aspects of this type of practice.
“The first students went out on externships in the summer of 2009,” Dr. Nichols says. “We supported more than 100 students that summer and continued in 2010 with the support of 112 students.”
The program is available to students at every veterinary school and/or college of veterinary medicine in the United States, and gives them the ability to work with accomplished veterinarians across the country. Not all veterinary school programs have many options for working with large animals, and Pfizer Animal Health is working to change that.
“They do a lot with small animals at the UT,” says Rachel Buffkin, third-year veterinary student at the University of Tennessee. “We do a little bit of large animal, but it’s good to be able to get additional large animal experience out here. It’s nice to get out on the farm and work with great practitioners.”
The externship program is part of Pfizer Animal Health’s Commitment to Veterinarians, an initiative supporting veterinarians through training and education, research and development, and investment in the future of the veterinary profession.
In addition to the externship program, Pfizer Animal Health also provides scholarships to third-year college students who are nearly ready to enter the work force. This spring, Pfizer Animal Health offered a 1-percent rebate to local veterinarians, who then could donate those funds to the American Association of Bovine Practitioners Foundation scholarship program.
“We want to be there to support them with scholarships to help offset educational expenses,” Dr. Nichols says. “The cost of veterinary education is enormous. This year at the 2010 AABP Convention, Pfizer Animal Health awarded $147,000 in scholarships to 29 students from across the U.S. specifically pursuing bovine practice. These veterinary students are now in their final year of studies and will become practicing veterinarians after graduating next spring.”
Pfizer Animal Health has also partnered with the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) for a national scholarship program that will provide $2 million over its first three years. In the first year, 222 second- and third-year U.S. veterinary students were awarded $2,500 each in scholarships. Recipients were selected based on several criteria, including academic excellence, leadership, diversity and potential for contributing to food-animal or food-safety veterinary medicine.
To look beyond the university level, Pfizer Animal Health, along with its veterinary and distributor partners, also provides funding to FFA chapters across the nation. Veterinarians have the opportunity to direct their own
1-percent rebate to their local FFA chapter.
“Through the FFA program, we’re encouraging agriculture as a whole, we’re encouraging livestock production and we’re encouraging those high school students to take a look at what the opportunities for them will be in agriculture in the future,” Dr. Nichols says. “Since 2008, Pfizer Animal Health has committed more than $2.3 million to those FFA and AABP programs.”
About Pfizer Animal Health
Pfizer Animal Health, a business of Pfizer Inc., is a world leader in discovering and developing innovative animal vaccines and prescription medicines, investing an estimated $300 million annually in animal health product research and development. For more information about how Pfizer Animal Health works to ensure a safe, sustainable global food supply from healthy livestock and poultry; or helps companion animals and horses to live longer, healthier lives, visit www.PfizerAH.com