March 6, 2023
As Mirabella residents settle into their homes and begin exploring ASU’s vast ecosystem in earnest, we have discovered that Mirabella residents are not only learners and mentors on campus, but they are also highly skilled advocates for students. As they get to know students and faculty, and embed themselves in departments and programs across campus, they are carving out new valued roles that add layers of support to students.
Dr. Tom Walton, a resident with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), PhD, and DSc degrees and 50+ years of private and public veterinary practice with the US Public Health Service, NIAID, NIH; the USDA Agricultural Research Service; and the USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, approached the ASU engagement office with an interest in supporting veterinary student preparation and readiness. He thought he might be willing to volunteer in a classroom or offer a guest lecture in a class or two, but didn’t know what the pre-veterinary program at ASU entailed.
So, we arranged to meet with several faculty and students from the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts to learn more about the ecosystem of opportunities and resources for students pursuing degrees with the pre-veterinary medicine concentration in applied biological sciences, as well as understand the gaps and needs of the students. Dr. Tom doesn’t drive any longer, so he used his ASU SunCard to hop on the ASU intercampus shuttle and head to the Polytechnic campus in east Mesa on a February afternoon.
Through his discussion, he discovered that ASU has 842 current pre-vet students and is expecting to have more than 1300 by 2027. With an increased attrition rate of veterinarians who leave the field due to mental health and burnout, there is a need to support these students to prepare and navigate the range of options in the field. Due to the outsized demand for veterinary services, one specific need that he identified was the lack of opportunities for students to shadow and gain experience in a clinical setting as well as obtain recommendations from practitioners. He also gathered that students need to learn and explore other professions in the animal sciences earlier in the undergraduate curriculum instead of only after they have been accepted into veterinary school or embarked on the rigorous profession practicing in a clinical setting.
Dr. Tom left with several next steps to deepen relationships with Arizona’s two veterinary schools, and several ways to support undergraduate pre-vet students. He will continue his discussions with the Dean and faculty of CISA or the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts and work to leverage his network and influence to support the next generation of veterinarians and make an impact at ASU.
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