Programs Offer Training in Both Public Health and Veterinary Medicine

By Keith Poehlman

Published on July 9, 2014

Today, public health veterinarians can be found in a wide variety of organizations, including the food industry; local, state, federal, and international health agencies; as well as many colleges and universities.

The University of Iowa and Iowa State University now offer joint Master of Public Health (MPH) degree programs for veterinarians and veterinary students who would like to combine it with their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (DVM) to pursue a career in One Health.

MPH for Practicing Vets

The idea for an MPH program for veterinarians came about largely due to the work of a few veterinarians doing research at Iowa State University’s Center for Food Security and Public Health, who were also pursuing a public health degree at the University of Iowa.

“After a number of fellows graduated from the MPH program, we decided that there was an unmet need for a distance-based program for this professional group,” says Mary Aquilino, College of Public Health associate dean for MPH and undergraduate programs.

The MPH program is available to veterinarians who have a DVM degree and features two separate two-week institutes, one at the University of Iowa the first summer, and the second at Iowa State University the following summer.

“We have a great collaborative relationship with the faculty at ISU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and some of their faculty have adjunct appointments in the College of Public Health,” says Aquilino. “It also is very feasible to work with another Iowa regent university in terms of administrative coordination and the proximity of our campuses.”

Combined DVM/MPH Degree

In order for students to become involved in the DVM/MPH dual degree program, they must be accepted into the DVM program at Iowa State University. Providing public health training for current and future veterinarians is still a relatively recent opportunity.

“There are few U.S. programs that offer combined DVM/MPH degrees, and even fewer distance-based MPH programs for practicing veterinarians,” says Aquilino. “We now have graduates throughout the world, many in public health leadership positions in governmental, non-governmental, and academic settings.”

Aquilino has seen growing interest both in the MPH for practicing veterinarians program and the combined DVM/MPH degree program.

“I think both of these MPH options are extremely important as we learn more about the intersection of human and animal health—the One Health concept,” she says. “Veterinarians are in a unique position to be effective public health care professionals in a world concerned with zoonotic infectious diseases, food security, bioterrorism, and environmental health.”