For the first time since 1950, students from China are being supported by their home country to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the United States -- and it's happening at Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.
China has the world's fastest growing populations of livestock and companion animals, according to Jishu Shi, director of the U.S.-China Center for Animal Health at Kansas State University. The demand for better care of animals and safer food products has increased significantly because of a rapid increase of living standards in China. Although China has made significant progress in animal production and food safety in the last few decades, improvement in veterinary services is needed to meet the increasing demand, Shi said.
To advance veterinary education and practice standards in China, the U.S.-China Center for Animal Health and China Scholarship Council have jointly established and coordinated a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program that will train 50 Chinese students in the next 10 years through American Veterinary Medical Association-accredited Doctor of Veterinary Medicine programs in the U.S.
Through this joint program, as many as 10 students from agricultural universities in China can be selected annually to study pre-veterinary courses at Kansas State University for a year, helping them acclimate to education and culture in the U.S. The U.S-China Center for Animal Health provides scholarship to the one-year pre-veterinary program. These students then apply to Doctor of Veterinary Medicine programs at Kansas State or a partnering veterinary college at the University of California, Davis; Iowa State University; University of Minnesota; University of Missouri; or Oklahoma State University. The China Scholarship Council has committed more than $13 million to support the Chinese veterinary students for their four-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine training. Upon receiving their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees, the Chinese students will return to China to serve the animal health community.
"The current Chinese veterinary medical education is weak in the area of hands-on clinical training compared to the veterinary education in North America, said Jia Youling, president of the Chinese Veterinary Medical Association. "This program fills the gap in China's veterinary education. It will advance the veterinary profession in China and promote global standards of veterinary practice."
Four Chinese students studied pre-veterinary medicine at Kansas State University in the 2012-2013 school year, with three of the students -- Yaoqin Shen, Bo Liu and Jing Li -- opting to attend the university's College of Veterinary Medicine, while the fourth student -- Yi Ding -- will study at the University of Minnesota.
"The next generation of the U.S.-trained Chinese veterinarians will serve as effective catalysts to enhance veterinary education and quality of veterinary care for companion and food animals in China," said Ralph Richardson, dean of College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University.
At an Aug. 25 event at Kansas State University, the program celebrated the first group of Chinese students entering American veterinary medicine programs since 1950. Distinguished guests included Liu Jinghui, secretary general of the China Scholarship Council; Jia of the Chinese Veterinary Medical Association; and Zhao Weiping, China's Chicago-based consul general to the Midwest. Also attending were representatives of the American Veterinary Medical Association; the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief veterinary officer; Zoetis, formerly Pfizer Animal Health; Banfield Pet Hospital; the Kansas Department of Commerce; and representatives from Kansas State University and other participating veterinary colleges in the U.S.
"The pre-vet-D.V.M. program we are celebrating today has created a very good new model of veterinary cooperation between China and the U.S., which will have far-reaching significance in forging the close link between the veterinary communities of our two countries," Zhao said. "I hope that this program will also help enhance a China-Kansas partnership. The recent successful visit to China by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has laid a solid foundation for the cooperation between the two sides in various fields, including agriculture and animal husbandry."
"The Chinese government has been attaching great importance to the cooperation and exchanges in education and culture, especially in student and scholar exchanges," Liu said. "We are eager to partner with top veterinary colleges in the U.S., which provide the most advanced veterinary education in the world, to support students from China as they pursue their four-year D.V.M. program training. Through this partnership, the future leaders of animal health and food safety in China and the U.S. will become colleagues and friends now."
"The university's mission is to foster excellent teaching, research and outreach that advances the well-being of Kansas, our nation and the international community," said April Mason, provost and senior vice president of Kansas State University. "This program is an excellent example of Kansas State University's commitment to collaboration. The success of this program will strengthen our commitment to internationalization."
The International Veterinary Collaboration for China, or IVCC, is a consortium that includes Zoetis and leading veterinary medical schools, including Kansas State University; University of California, Davis; Iowa State University; the University of Minnesota; the Royal Veterinary College; and the University of Nottingham. The consortium has provided financial support for the first group of Chinese students' one-year pre-veterinary study at Kansas State University through grants to the U.S.-China Center for Animal Health.
"As a global animal health company, Zoetis is proud to have such a unique and close collaboration with our distinguished academic partners," said Michelle Haven, senior vice president, Corporate Development, Alliances & Solutions, at Zoetis. "Zoetis and the other IVCC partners will continue to work closely with the U.S.-China Center for Animal Health at Kansas State University and the Chinese animal health community to advance veterinary education and animal health in China."