Sitting (L-R): RUSVM National Director of Admissions and Training Lisa Dougherty, RCGC President Frederick Keating and RCGC Vice President of Academic Services Linda A Hurlburt; standing (L-R): RUSVM Assistant Director of Admissions John Nwafor, RUSVM Senior Associate Director of Admissions Erin Healey, RCGC Associate Professor of Biology Emily Allen and RCGC Dean of STEM Brenden Rickards.|
Earning admission to a graduate program in veterinary science can be more difficult than getting accepted into medical school. In New Jersey, the competition is even tougher since of the 46 states that house educational facilities for aspiring doctors, only 25 provide locations for learning veterinary medicine — none of which are located in the Garden State.
According to U.S. News & World Report, less than 30 universities nationwide offer doctorates in veterinary science compared to 153 medical schools that award either M.D. or D.O. degrees. This might seem disappointing for local college-bound students who dream of becoming veterinarians; however, Rowan College at Gloucester County (RCGC) has teamed up with Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (RUSVM) to make this dream a reality.
On Sept. 11, the two institutions penned an articulation agreement that gives graduates of RCGC's equine science program special consideration when applying to RUSVM. The university will reserve three seats per semester for outstanding RCGC students.
"This partnership is the first of its kind in New Jersey. For a two-year community college to have an affiliation with a university that offers a graduate degree in veterinary science is an amazing opportunity for our students," said RCGC Associate Professor Emily Allen, program coordinator of equine science.
"Rowan College has a very specific, hands-on equine science curriculum that gives its graduates unique insight. This approach to teaching is very much in alignment with the curriculum at RUSVM," said Associate Director of Admission John Nwafor, who recruits for the university. "At RUSVM, students gain practical experience early in the program to prepare them for the future."
Since its founding in 1982, RUSVM has graduated more than 3,000 veterinarians. The Doctor of Veterinary (DVM) Program consists of seven semesters of pre-clinical training on its campus in St. Kitts, West Indies, and clinical training at a veterinary program affiliated with the American Veterinary Medical Association in the United States or Canada. RUSVM does not require students to possess a bachelor's degree prior to admission. Students can apply after they earn 48 credits and meet prerequisite coursework at an accredited college or university. Rowan College graduates must maintain a 3.2 GPA, earn "C+" or better in all prerequisite classes and score at least a 300 on the GRE exam.
This partnership affords Rowan College students a number of educational opportunities, including preferential admission and tuition savings. Graduates are guaranteed an entrance interview and all application and transfer fees are waived. RUSVM agrees to reserve seats for up to nine students per academic year.
"The opportunity to enroll in a doctoral program right after earning an associate degree is a huge deal. Our graduates will get a head start and save substantially. This pathway enables them to grow both personally and professionally and to continue their education," said Dr. Brenden Rickards, dean of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
According to Allen, students can move seamlessly from Rowan College to RUSVM because the equine science program mirrors its prerequisite requirements. Biochemistry is the only course that is not included in the associate degree core curriculum; however students will be advised to take it as an elective.
"This transfer partnership is a great option for South Jersey students because they know what they need to do from day one," said Allen. "Whereas it normally takes students eight years to finish veterinary school, Rowan College graduates can complete their studies in as little as five and one-half years."
"RUSVM wants to create a more streamlined approach. Classes run in trimesters, in which Rowan College graduates can begin their studies in January, May or September," said Nwafor. "Students attend classes all year round, saving them time and money."
Rowan College graduates who are admitted to RUSVM can expect to participate in a research-focused program. In 2012, the school began to refresh its research strategy, extending its collaborations and making several strategic appointments to ensure that RUSVM is providing opportunities for its students to engage in research and benefit from teaching by research leaders in their field.
RUSVM provides housing and requires new, incoming students to live on campus. Pets are also welcome, proving a unique and unorthodox privilege for those enrolled.
"The hard work of Emily Allen and John Nwafor has drastically expanded the educational opportunities of South Jersey students," said Rickards. "This can literally open up a world of possibilities."