Texas Tech University is establishing Texas’ first veterinary school in 100 years. Located in Amarillo – the heart of our nation’s livestock industry – this innovative school of veterinary medicine is purpose-built from the ground up.
We are building the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine on an innovative and tremendously successful trailblazing model established by the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. We will build upon this community-serving, collaborative veterinary school – which was established to address a similar critical workforce need currently faced in Texas – by strategically selecting students most likely to return to agricultural communities, offering them a curriculum tailored to agricultural practice, affording them real-world experiential learning in a network of partnering sites, and then providing the support structure to facilitate their lifelong professional success.
In order to address rising educational debt for veterinary medical students, we’ll increase the affordability of world-class education by partnering with and investing in practitioners and livestock producers in order to create an environment of immersive experiential learning. These partnerships will allow us to provide an affordable, hands-on education and eliminate one of the largest costs to the students and the state–the on-campus teaching hospital. In order to guarantee the success of this approach, we will implement an innovative and transformative curriculum that instills clinical competencies, professional and communication skills and contextual knowledge.
The school will be comprised of two state-of-the-art buildings, the first of which will serve as the academic headquarters alongside the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Northwest Amarillo. Located two miles northwest, the second structure will include spaces for infrastructure; clinical, surgical, and husbandry skills development; and large-animal housing.
Veterinarians in Texas
Texas employs the second most veterinarians in the United States, but more than 27 percent are over the age of 60 and may leave the profession in the next decade. Moreover, the veterinary job market is expected to grow at more than double the rate of other professions.
Since 1990, the number of licenses issued by the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners has increased from approximately 120 per year to over 450. Graduates of the sole existing veterinary education program in Texas once accounted for almost 80 percent of licenses issued annually. Graduates of the program now account for only approximately 24 percent of licenses issued.
The demand for veterinarians in our great state has grown beyond the capacity of any singular program. Texas Tech is prepared to implement an innovative, complementary program to provide for the veterinary workforce demands in our state.
Agriculture accounts for 8.6 percent of Texas’ state GDP and healthy herds are critical for national and global food security. Texas has the largest cattle population in the nation, yet ranks last among the 10 most populous states for the ratio of cattle to veterinarians.
Further, the region of Texas that serves as a national epicenter for food and fiber production is seriously lacking in adequate veterinary services. There is a concentration of feedlots and dairy farms in the Texas Panhandle; concentration of these centers of agriculture and animal-needs is disproportionate to the distribution of veterinarians. As veterinary graduates predominantly move to urban areas, this workforce shortage is worsening.
Texas Tech is on a mission to produce career-ready veterinarians with the skills and desire necessary to serve small and agricultural communities to ensure the prosperity of these vital communities and industries.
Addressing Educational Challenges
Texas’ sole existing veterinary medical education program is at capacity and, consequently, turns away more qualified applicants than it can enroll. The average qualified applicant-to-enrolled student ratio for the last three years at the existing state program is 4.37-to-1.
Moreover, because of a lack of alternative veterinary medical education options in Texas, more and more students are forced to enroll in out-of-state and out-of-country programs where they are exposed to greater risk of debt. The average debt borne by graduates from an out-of-state program is in excess of 20 percent greater than the debt for in-state students.
Texas Tech is poised to provide more substantial opportunities for Texas students to pursue their education in their home state while focusing on providing a cost-efficient program to reduce the potential debt of program graduates.