Woman in a medical lab

Many students who are pursuing their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree are also interested in larger issues of epidemiology and policy and therefore also want to obtain a Master of Public Health degree. Many institutions offer general MPH degree programs both in-person and online, but few offer a MPH with a veterinary emphasis.

And even fewer (less than five) accredited institutions offer the MPH with a veterinary emphasis online. As of this semester, Mizzou became one of these institutions. This means that students across the country who are pursuing their DVM can also enroll in Mizzou’s online MPH with a veterinary emphasis simultaneously to supplement their DVM with veterinary public health knowledge.

Kaylie Shaver is one of the first students to be enrolled in this program, and she chose Mizzou precisely for the online veterinary public health emphasis. Currently enrolled in her third year of her DVM program at Washington State University, she is now taking online MPH courses with a veterinary emphasis through Mizzou.

We talked to Shaver about her experiences in the program so far:

How did you hear about Mizzou’s online MPH degree program?

We discussed various options for MPH programs during my intro to public health course at WSU—many of them were more focused on human public health and did not have the veterinary emphasis that I was interested in—Mizzou’s MPH with that emphasis was exactly what I was looking for.

What made you decide to pursue an MPH in addition to a DVM?

I worked as a veterinary technician for several years before starting vet school and decided that clinical practice was not where I wanted to end up. I have always been interested in emerging diseases and the public/wildlife/veterinary interface so public health was very appealing to me. An MPH seemed like a good supplement to my DVM that could help me to find the career opportunities I was interested in.

What are your career goals and aspirations? How do you think having both an MPH and a DVM will help you succeed in your future career?

I am especially interested in emerging diseases and outbreak investigation so my ultimate career goal is as an epidemiologist.

The great thing about a DVM degree is that it provides relatively broad education and training and is useful in a number of fields, not just general practice. I chose to do an MPH in addition to my DVM degree because it will provide me with additional tools and education for the career opportunities I am interested in.

How is the semester going so far?

The semester is going well so far, after two years of a strict veterinary curriculum it is nice to have classes focusing on other topics. I started my third year of vet school this fall and it is a balancing act to keep up with both programs. A lot of my time during the week is spent in lectures and labs for vet school so I set aside time each night to work on my MPH classes and on the weekend if necessary. While it took me a few weeks to get used to the work load, it has actually helped me to streamline my studying and be more efficient.

Are you enjoying anything in particular about your MPH classwork? What are a few interesting things you’ve learned so far?

The MPH coursework has been a pleasant break from the veterinary curriculum. I feel like it’s easy to get tunnel vision while in vet school and be so focused on your coursework and exams that you forget the bigger picture, especially in 3rd year when we start focusing on more clinical aspects of medicine. One of my current MPH classes focuses on public health and the environment. It’s nice to look at large scale issues such as a disease outbreak rather than focusing on the minute details of that disease’s pathophysiology.

Is there anything that Mizzou could improve upon as far as this program goes or the tools you use to receive information and submit assignments?

I’ve been really impressed with my courses so far. They are very organized so I always know what I need to get done each week and when the assignments are due. The assignments are also very relevant, and I feel like I get a lot out of them. The professors are easy to contact and get back to you quickly and they offer individual feedback on each assignment, I love that they take the time to reach out to the students even in an online classroom.

Is there anything you’d like to add about your experience with getting your DVM from WSU and online MPH from Mizzou?

I wish I had been more aware of an online MPH option earlier in my DVM curriculum. I would like to finish my MPH around the same time as my DVM to make myself more competitive for post-docs/fellowships/job openings etc. Starting the MPH program sooner in my vet school curriculum may have allowed me a little more flexibility in my scheduling while still finishing my MPH and DVM concurrently.