CALS/Ross University agreement increases vet school opportunities for N.C. State students

Date posted: October 5, 2011

Sean Powers (right) of Ross University talks with N.C. State pre-vet students.Photo by Terri LeithSean Powers (right) of Ross University talks with N.C. State pre-vet students.

The odds of being accepted into veterinary school have recently gotten better for pre-veterinary track students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University. That’s because the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and the College have signed an articulation agreement designed to streamline the application process for N.C. State students interested in attending vet school at Ross. The pact ensures that students who meet the required academic criteria, established by Ross and CALS faculty, will be offered admission to Ross in an expedited manner.

Ross University is located at Saint Kitts, an island federation that is part of the British Commonwealth, in the eastern Caribbean. Founded in 1982, the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine is the first Caribbean veterinary school to receive accreditation by the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA). Moreover, its veterinary teaching hospital has earned accreditation from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), a first for any college outside of the United States.

Photo by Terri Leith

Dr. Shweta Trivedi (left), director of VetPAC, hosted the seminar and reception at Riddick Hall.

The guaranteed placement agreement was facilitated by the College’s Veterinary Professions Advising Center (VetPAC) and its director, Dr. Shweta Trivedi. It became official with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between CALS administration and the Ross University deans of admissions and was launched Sept. 29 as a part of VetPAC’s Fall Seminar Series, followed by a reception in the hearth of Riddick Hall.                  

Approximately 60 CALS students attended the seminar, where Trivedi introduced Sean Powers, national director of admissions for Ross University School of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine; Ross admissions officer Erin Healy, who would conduct student interviews; and Dr. Jennifer Carter, a Ross DVM alumna and a board certified anesthesiologist, who is now a member of the Ross veterinary faculty.

Powers said that while Ross is an international veterinary school, “98 percent of Ross students are from the United States, with the majority of other students being from Canada. We have nearly 2,800 graduates, and all but 20 live and work in North America – and 14 of those 20 are on the Ross faculty teaching at Saint Kitts.”

Photo by Terri Leith

Divya Sreenivasan, a CALS junior in animal science, fills out a Ross University information card. She was one of 60 students attending the event.

Most importantly, Powers said, Ross adds to the educational options and opportunities for students who want to be veterinarians. “There are 6,100 applicants each year to 28 U.S. vet schools (29, when a second vet school in Tennessee opens) for only 2,600 seats. So, clearly, 3,500 people are left out.

“Ross brings in 100 new students three times a year, at three different start dates — September, January and May – so students don’t have to wait till September to start.”

Not only do vet students at Ross start sooner, they can finish faster – in 40 months as opposed to 48 – thanks to the Ross system of trimesters, with two-week breaks and no summer break.

That was just the beginning of the Ross advantages CALS students heard about.

They learned that Ross offers the equivalent to U.S.-based curricula, with hands-on clinical training; has technologically advanced facilities; has licensure in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico; and offers financial aid via U.S. loans.

Photo by Terri Leith

Veterinarian and Ross faculty member Dr. Jennifer Carter (right) told students about the vet school's campus and curriculum.

And students take their 12-month clinical rotations in U.S. veterinary schools, after seven semesters, or 28 months, at Ross, which is affiliated with 23 of the U.S. veterinary schools, including N.C. State’s College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM).

In fact, Ross alumna and faculty member Carter, who spoke at the event, did her clinical rotation at the CVM.

“Ross is here to give you the chance to be a veterinarian,” Carter told the students.

There are more than 60 highly qualified faculty members, holding DVM, Ph.D. or equivalent degrees; the clinical faculty hold specialty board certification; and the faculty members are accessible to students, she said. “You aren’t just a face at Ross. The faculty is there to teach.”

Photo by Terri Leith

Ross University's Erin Healy (right) elaborates on the admissions process and requirements with an N.C. State student.

Ross’ 50-acre campus is currently home to more than 1,000 students. It has the latest academic, clinical, laboratory and animal care facilities, and there has been extensive investment in multimedia technology in classroom and labs. “We don’t hesitate to put money into teaching facilities,” Carter said.

Its outdoor learning facilities include hundreds of livestock – sheep, donkeys, horses – as well as domestic animals, with which students practice their animal care skills. 

“Ross University has been around for 29 years and in that time has made an amazing impact,” Powers said. “Saint Kitts has the infrastructure you need, is an English-speaking nation and is not overrun with tourists. And it’s a direct flight from Charlotte.”

Noting that 69 of Ross’ alumni DVMs are in North Carolina, he said, “Most of our graduates go right into practice, but if you want to go into post doctoral training for board certification, we prepare you for that, too.”  

Photo by Terri Leith

After the VetPAC seminar, Sean Powers, Ross admissions director, meets a CALS pre-vet student at the Riddick hearth reception.

Powers said that it is Ross’ admissions policy that “any individual with the requisite ability, character and desire to become a veterinarian deserves the opportunity to pursue his or her dream.”

Carter cautioned that while the Ross admission standards may be flexible, it is just as hard to stay in [as in other vet schools] and move successfully to graduation. “There is attrition at Ross. You have to work hard to stay in – no room for slacking off!” she said. “But four out of five people who start at Ross finish with their class.”

The Ross representatives provided the students with details of the application and interview process of the expedited admissions, as well as the minimum criteria for consideration. These criteria include an overall undergraduate grade point average of 3.25 or higher; a GPA of 3.0 or higher in required pre-requisite coursework; no grade of F, D or C- in  required pre-requisite coursework; score of 1,000 or higher on GRE; positive recommendation from the VetPAC director or an N.C. State faculty member; and a positive recommendation from the Ross interviewer.

Photo by Terri Leith

Dr. Ken Esbenshade (in foreground), joined in the reception after taking part in the VetPAC seminar and the announcement of the CALS-Ross agreement.

(The VetPAC office and website have additional details on the guaranteed placement program that pre-veterinary student will have access to.)

Under the expedited program, the student should hear within a day after the interview if she or he has been accepted, Powers said.

However, he added, if students don’t qualify for the streamlined acceptance but are still interested in Ross, they can go through the regular committee review channels. “So if you like what you’ve heard, you can still apply to Ross,” he said.           

Dr. Ken Esbenshade, CALS associate dean and director of Academic Programs, said, “We’re excited to take part in this, because we want to create opportunities for students. We know we have students who want to situate themselves for vet school acceptance, and I know that Ross University graduates are respected within the profession. It’s an accredited vet school, so graduates have opportunities within the United States and worldwide after graduation. The guaranteed acceptance means you have that choice when you do things right. We need at NCSU for our students to have that choice. Our administration has signed the MOU along with the administration of Ross, so we’re good to go.” – Terri Leith

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