The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at
Virginia Tech has moved its
Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine from
College Park, Maryland, to Blacksburg.
The center, which has more than two decades of experience
training veterinary students for fields outside of
traditional private practice, will continue as one of the
distinctive programs differentiating the college from its
"The move allows the center to have a closer relationship
with the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program in Blacksburg
with greater access to students pursuing the public and
corporate veterinary medicine track," said Dr. Valerie
Ragan, director of the center.
In 2009, Ragan took the helm of the center following more
than two decades of experience in public and corporate
veterinary medicine. She and Dr. Bess Pierce, who was
previously an associate professor of community practice in
the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, are
joining the college's Department of Population Health
They will continue the center's work to teach courses,
advise students, coordinate senior veterinary student
clerkships, assist veterinarians wishing to transition into
public practice, and develop programs to advance the
veterinary profession in government, industry, and the
"We'll continue to have a big footprint in both states,"
Ragan said. "We're here and available for students on the
Blacksburg campus interested in public and corporate
veterinary medicine, but the college will still maintain
operations in College Park with its close presence to the
nation's capital. Veterinary students will continue to have
opportunities for clerkships in Washington, D.C., and the
important state and federal agencies employing veterinarians
in the area."
According to Dr. Cyril Clarke, dean of the veterinary
college, the move will decrease the need for frequent
faculty travel between the college's Maryland and Virginia
The move to the Department of Population Health Sciences
will also strengthen the center's connections with the
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Public Health
programs and advance the college's commitment to One Health,
which brings together experts from various disciplines to
address human, animal, and environmental health issues.
Clarke explained that the reorganization will establish a
strong foundation for the center.
"We recently established a memorandum of understanding with
the American Veterinary Medical Association and the National
Association of Federal Veterinarians to help increase the
demand for public practice veterinarians and to provide
training to prepare veterinarians for careers in public and
corporate veterinary practice," Clarke said.
"The center will be key to achieving this goal, as it
enhances and expands its activities in the areas of public
health, public policy, international veterinary medicine,
organizational leadership, and the One Health initiative."
In order to maintain its Washington, D.C. presence, the
center will keep three faculty positions at its College Park
Dr. Nathaniel Tablante, associate professor of veterinary
medicine at the University of Maryland, will work with Dr.
Siba Samal, associate dean for the college's Maryland
campus, to advance the center, advise pre-veterinary
students, and reenergize the college's engagement with
corporate poultry medicine.
Ragan will continue to coordinate the college's
international activities related to public and corporate
veterinary medicine, including a long-standing partnership
with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign
Agriculture Service and the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture
to improve veterinary infrastructure and build capacity in
Pierce, who is also one of the highest ranking veterinarians
in Europe with the U.S. Army Reserve Veterinary Corps, will
assist with the center's international activities and
continue to serve as director of the college's Center for
Animal-Human Relationships, which conducts research and
outreach on the human-animal bond.
The veterinary college has a tracking curriculum that allows
students to choose from one of five tracks that build on
their general veterinary education. Although many students
choose the small animal, food animal, equine, or mixed
species track, students interested in veterinary careers
outside of traditional private practice have the public and
corporate veterinary medicine track available to them with
courses taught by faculty members at the center.
According to Ragan, the center will continue to revisit its
curriculum with assistance from key stakeholders over the
next few years.
"We have an active advisory board with monthly phone calls
and annual face-to-face meetings with key stakeholders who
are advancing the public and corporate curriculum," said
Ragan, who explained that the 10-person advisory board
included representatives from the U.S. Department of
Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security, private practice, and
In 2010, the center made several curriculum changes,
including the addition of a problem solving course,
following a survey of the college's alumni who followed the
public and corporate veterinary medicine track in veterinary
school. Ragan is planning for the center to undergo a new
strategic planning process to guide activities and focus
areas for the next five years.
"We know from American Veterinary Medical Association
surveys that about 25 percent of veterinarians are working
in the public/corporate area and about 30 percent of
veterinarians are looking to change their careers paths,"
Ragan said. "This presents a tremendous opportunity for the
Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine to be at
the forefront of a changing profession."
Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine is a
leading biomedical teaching and research center, enrolling
more than 700 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, master of
public health, and biomedical and veterinary sciences
graduate students. The college is a partnership between the
land-grant universities of Virginia Tech and the University
of Maryland. Its main campus in Blacksburg, Virginia,
features the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and large animal
field services which together treat more than 79,000 animals
annually. Other locations include the Marion duPont Scott
Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Virginia, and the
Gudelsky Veterinary Center in College Park, Maryland.