Animal Health Scholarship Program Surpasses $6 Million

Scholarships help give students a leg-up as they start in the profession. ( iStock )

The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) and Zoetis recently announced the awarding of $630,000 in scholarship funds through the Zoetis Veterinary Student Scholarship Program for 2018. Now in its ninth year, the program awarded scholarships in the amount of $2,000 to 315 second- and third-year veterinary students representing 33 colleges of veterinary medicine.

The program has awarded $6.1 million over the past nine years, helping to offset education expenses for more than 3,000 veterinary students.

Scholarships provide a way to address the financial challenges associated with pursuing a veterinary education. Research shows the average debt load of veterinary students is more than $160,000. Since student loans are a primary source of stress for veterinarians entering the business, scholarships are critically important as a way to offset their financial liability.

Lizann Guzman, a student enrolled in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, Calif., said the award made a significant impact on her educational experience. After not being accepted to the veterinary college in her home state, Guzman faced a difficult financial choice.

“One of the hardest decisions of my life was moving out to California for vet school, knowing that I would be in so much more debt than if I waited a year to reapply in-state,” she said. “This scholarship greatly helped me out financially and gave me extra motivation to work hard in pursuing my dream.”  

“Easing the economic pressure on students like Guzman is the purpose of the Zoetis Veterinary Student Scholarship Program,” said Christine Jenkins, chief medical officer and vice president of veterinary medical services and outcomes research at Zoetis, in a news release. “Many veterinary students face decisions similar to Lizann’s choice… Earning a veterinary medical degree is challenging enough without the added stress of debt. Our goal with this scholarship is to help alleviate the financial worries faced by student veterinarians.”

More than 1,700 applicants from universities throughout the U.S. and Caribbean were evaluated for academic excellence, financial need, diversity, sustainability, leadership and career interest. Scholarships are awarded to students in all areas of professional interest, including food animal medicine, small animal clinical medicine, research, government services, public health, and organized veterinary medicine.

Among the 2018 awarded scholars:

• 36% are from racial and ethnically diverse backgrounds

• 33% are studying mixed animal medicine

• 11% are studying to practice food animal medicine

• 24% are going into small animal practice

• 4% are going into equine exclusive clinical practice

• 16% are entering academia, public health, government, & industry

• 11% will go into other areas such as lab animal, zoo/exotic animal, wildlife or other

“Debt can impact a veterinarian’s finances and life choices for 20 years or longer,” said Dr. Andrew Maccabe, Chief Executive Officer of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, in the release. “We are proud to partner with Zoetis to award these scholarships to many exceptional veterinary students and help ease that burden.”