Pork production’s future in the United States will continue to rely on access to qualified veterinarians and a new effort is working to ensure that challenge is met.
The Swine Medicine Education Center, Ames, Iowa, is a joint collaboration between AMVC, Audubon, Iowa, and Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. The objectives are to synthesize, collect and disseminate best clinical practices to stakeholders to improve swine health, ensure pork safety, maintain sustainability and conserve resources.
“We have already had 48 veterinary students from seven veterinary schools come through the center,” says Locke Karriker, DVM, SMEC director. “Through our custom training modules we’ve reached stakeholders in 11 countries and hosted 17 international veterinarians for on-farm training opportunities here in Iowa.”
The center encompasses a wider audience than just veterinarians or veterinary students, however. “An important objective is to provide educational opportunities to all swine production stakeholders as well as the general public and media,” notes Josh Ellingson, DVM, SMEC staff veterinarian.
The center features access to commercial operations, as well as contract research and field-trial services, literature reviews and summaries. There also is a wide variety of customized training programs for stakeholders.
Currently, online training modules and two-week clinical rotations are offered to fourth-year veterinary students and veterinarians to help hone medical skills and evaluate production practices. The charge for the two-week rotation is $1,150 for non-Iowa State students but the fee includes room and board and all necessary materials and supplies, according to Ellingson.
Another long-term goal is to make funding available to help cover expenses of veterinary students for the two-week training rotation. “This support would ensure all domestic students interested in swine medicine would have a means and a source to access needed training,” Ellingson says.
SMEC depends on external funding from pork industry stakeholders, pork production companies and others. “Fundraising efforts are ongoing, but we are off to a great start thanks to the generosity of numerous supporters who share our mission. Ultimately, the center’s success and sustainability will rely on backing by stakeholder partners,” Ellingson notes.
SMEC’s board of directors includes Daryl Olsen, DVM; Jason Hocker, DVM; Rodney “Butch” Baker, DVM; Locke Karriker, DVM; Darin Madson, DVM; and Pat Halbur, DVM.