June 14, 2021 8:26 AM

Beginning Monday, June 14, 2021, the MSU Veterinary Medical Center will allow clients into the building with patients. Find details here.

Any patient presented to the MSU Small Animal Emergency Service will undergo an initial medical evaluation to determine if urgent care is needed, and whether hospitalization is warranted. The MSU Small Animal Emergency Service will only hospitalize patients that our clinicians consider to be unstable or to have life-threatening conditions.

12 years of adding value to the student experience.

By Jamie DePolo

Created to fill the twin needs of offering well-paying, real-world experiences to veterinary students and attracting more students to work in the food animal industry, the Food Systems Fellowship Program (FSF) gives students the opportunity to work for 10 weeks in a non-clinical setting in the food industry.

“Since the program started in 2006, we’ve had 24 different industry partners provide summer jobs for our students,” says Dan Grooms, chair for the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, who founded and continues to coordinate the program. “Some of the initial partners are still part of the program, and we’ve forged both national and international connections for our students.”

Students have to apply for the program and prioritize the opportunities. The College oversees the application process and forwards the information to the partners, who make the final selections. The costs of the students’ summer salaries are split between the partner and the College. Typically, 30 to 40 students apply for the approximately 10 positions, so the program is extremely competitive.

“I wanted to participate in the program because I plan to practice production animal medicine upon graduation, and this was a great chance to experience different sides of veterinary medicine that most students never get exposed to,” says Colleen Potter, class of 2020, who was part of the 2017 Food Systems Fellowship Program. “I worked for Merck Animal Health, so I was able to experience different production systems from the pharmaceutical industry perspective. I had the awesome experience of traveling around the country, and especially traveling into the heart of beef country, an industry I had had very little exposure to before. I learned a ton about the economic side of food producing industries and the role of tech service veterinarians from Merck.”

“One key aspect I learned through working at Neogen was the role of veterinarians in an industry setting,” says Andrew Brummitt, class of 2019, who worked in the Neogen Corporation Pathogen Detection Research and Development Laboratory during the 2017 program. “Many DVMs are portrayed as companion animal veterinarians. However, while working at Neogen, I learned there are many different possible career paths for veterinarians. Veterinary medicine provides a very broad education that can open many different job opportunities.”

“After spending a summer working through the Program, I realized that I grew not only on a professional level, but also on a personal level,” says Lora Gurley, class of 2018, who was part of the 2015 program. “I worked for a company that sent me to a different state every week, and they had me work with some of the largest feedlots, dairies, and calf ranches in North America. As a result, I was afforded the incredible opportunity of working with a wide variety of clients. I improved my communication skills, gained an appreciation for and understanding of the cattle industry, and drastically enhanced many of my clinical skills. I also had the opportunity to practice speaking Spanish with ranch hands, which has proven to be invaluable as I continue to work in production medicine. The Food Systems Fellowship position laid the groundwork for a vast networking web, one that I still use routinely.”

“The Food Systems Fellowship Program helps students to improve communication skills, network with current industry professionals, practice clinical skills, and much more.”
— Lora Gurley

The Food Systems Fellowship Program partners are just as enthusiastic about the program.

“NorthStar Cooperative and Antel BioSystems serve the food animal production industry,” says Todd Byrem, director of Antel BioSystems. “So, we strongly consider any opportunity to grow, support, and promote this industry. The Food Systems Fellowship Program is designed to introduce and attract talented veterinary students to various facets of the food animal industry, and through NorthStar and Antel BioSystems, we enjoy teaching students our role in the dairy and beef industries.

“In return, we get very cost-effective access to talented minds and eager souls to help us in our research and development program,” he continues. “The quality of the applicants grows each year and we are able to put their experiences to valuable use in both field and laboratory research. Compared to other new employees, the training requirements are often minimal and FSF students are able to hit the ground running on some very intricate and relevant projects.”

“The benefits of participating in the Food Systems Fellowship are twofold,” says James Averill, state veterinarian and director of the Animal Industry Division of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “One, we are able to show a veterinary student the value, role, and responsibilities of working in regulatory medicine so they will advocate on our behalf as a veterinarian. Second, the veterinary student is an additional resource to help tackle key animal health issues and policies we may be addressing. I would strongly encourage a company or organization be involved, as a young and intelligent veterinary student who is willing to tackle the real world always brightens your day. The students can be a breath of fresh air, share generational perspective, and will become a lifelong friend and colleague.”

Food Systems Fellowship Symbol

To give the students an opportunity to talk about both the rewards and challenges of their positions, Food Systems Fellowship students meet monthly as a group, with most attending remotely. They also work together on a community-service project, creating an exhibit for the annual Great Dairy Adventure, a free event each summer at the MSU Pavilion that gives attendees an inside look at Michigan’s dairy industry.

Students who have participated in the program also have the opportunity to apply for a special scholarship.

“Merck Animal Health, one of our initial partners, provides three $5,000 scholarships each year to alumni of the Food Systems Fellowship Program,” Grooms explains. “It’s only open to those students, so it’s another very nice perk of the program.”

“The Food Systems Fellowship Program helps students to improve communication skills, network with current industry professionals, practice clinical skills, and much more,” says Gurley. “The program also provides a healthy compensation package that is commensurate with the work [a veterinarian] will be doing. Lastly, since all participants of the program are eligible to apply for the FSF Merck Foundation scholarship, this is another opportunity to offset the cost of veterinary school.”

“I would definitely recommend this program to students who are interested in production animal medicine,” adds Potter. “They will experience a side of food animal production systems that most veterinary students are never exposed to. It is also a great way to make connections and learn about different pathways you can take after veterinary school. I met so many people this summer who all taught me about being the best veterinarian and person I can be, and how to succeed in my career later on.”

Also in this Issue:

The Dean’s Perspective Read More
Learn Read More
Greener Pastures

College and farm partner to improve veterinary education and the dairy industry of tomorrow.

Read More
Investing in the Future

MSU Donors’ Impact on the Dairy Industry.

Read More
Food Systems Fellowship Program

12 years of adding value to the student experience.

Read More
Not Just Medicine

Clerkship Series Teaches Professional Skills To Food Animal Veterinary Students.

Read More
Who will keep food safe? Spartans Will.

This Spartan is One of a Kind.

Read More
Experts Revamp Food Protection and Defense Course Read More
Online Continuing Education Emerges from the MSU Online Food Safety Program Read More
Discover Read More
Quality Milk Alliance

Prioritizes Mastitis Preventatives and Training.

Read More
Researching New Therapies and Preventatives

to Mediate GI-Triggered Autoimmune Disease.

Read More
Reducing Early-Life Adversity for Pig, Human Health Read More
Slowing Down Antibiotics and Speeding Up Herd Recovery Read More
Wake Up: Treating Tuberculosis by Stopping Dormancy

Treating Tuberculosis by Stopping Dormancy.

Read More
Heal Read More
Healing the Herd

Hospital Focuses on Prevention for Welfare and Food Safety.

Read More
Scholarships Empower

2017 Alumnus to Succeed in Dairy Herd Health Medicine.

Read More
Protect Read More
Food Safety and Public Health

Veterinarians Are Integral to the Process.

Read More
Defining and Fighting Food Fraud Read More
College Welcomes New PDI Chair, One Health Ambassador Read More
New curriculum offers opportunity for food animal students Read More
Class of 2021 Profile Read More
Alumni News Read More
In Memoriam Read More
Why Scholarships? Why Now?

Students are the lifeblood of the College, which is working to ensure that MSU is the top choice for prospective veterinary students.

Read More
Homecoming 2017 Read More
Celebration of Generosity 2017 Read More