Province & Vet-Med Association launch student mentorship program
The provincial government and the Saskatchewan Veterinary Medical Association (SVMA) have teamed up to give a shot in the arm to the development of rural veterinarians.
And the move will also add a practical dimension to veterinary training for a number of Veterinary Medicine students at the U of S.
In a Nov. 21 ceremony at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, Saskatchewan Agriculture, Food & Rural Revitalization Minister Clay Serby presented $50,000 to SVMA President Sandra Stephens, to help fund a new mentorship program that will place 10 qualifying students into rural livestock or mixed-animal vet practices across the province next summer.
"The province needs good veterinarians working in the food animal sector in rural Saskatchewan - and this funding will increase the retention rate of graduate veterinarians working in rural livestock or mixed-animal practices," Serby said.
The summer work terms will also introduce some students to mixed veterinary practice opportunities earlier in their educational program.
The mentorship opportunities will be given to Saskatchewan resident students who will have completed their first or second year at WCVM. Each participating veterinary practice must give the student 14 weeks of broad-based experience related to as many areas of livestock and agrifood practice as possible.
The funding will allow the SVMA to pay each mentorship student $6,000 for the 14-week program. The veterinary practices will have to pay for the student's living accommodations up to $400 per month and pay a wage of at least $500 per month.
SVMA President Stephens said, "Veterinary practice owners have a huge stake in the outcome of this program. Hiring summer students and providing them with a good experience is an investment. We hope this program will create a future opportunity for practice owners to hire a professional who may want to become a partner down the road."
She said a goal of the mentorship program is to have the students practice in rural Saskatchewan.
Stephens said a 1999-2000 SVMA survey showed that at least 25 per cent of veterinarians serving industry in Saskatchewan were 55 year old or older, and said they couldn't find anyone to take over their practice.
She said there are currently 117 veterinarians in the 74 mixed veterinary practices in rural Saskatchewan.
Dr. Jeremy Bailey, Associate Dean (Academic) of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, said he welcomes the announcement of the mentorship program.