Since 2016, the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine has provided a 100 percent online, asynchronous master’s degree program in biomedical sciences with an emphasis in veterinary sciences. The format of the program, directed by Laurie Wallace, DVM, MVSc, DACVIM, allows students from around the country and world to earn a master’s degree from the CVM. This made it possible for Jing Li, DVM, to participate in the program from his home in Beijing, China, and facilitated international collaboration between faculty at the CVM and veterinarians in China.
Li, who will graduate from the program this month, earned his DVM from the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He then returned to China where he serves as a faculty member in the China Agricultural University’s Veterinary Training Program. During the past two years, Li conducted research focused on identifying biomarkers of respiratory disease in cattle, a project that prompted Wallace to ask two CVM faculty members to serve as his advisors: Brian Shoemake, DVM, MS, a former assistant teaching professor of food animal medicine at the CVM, and Pamela Adkins, MS, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, an assistant professor of food animal medicine and surgery. “Dr. Li does work with food animals and large animals in Beijing, so I contacted Dr. Shoemake and Dr. Adkins,” said Wallace. “They were game to give it a try and agreed to be his advisors.”
Shoemake and Adkins provided support and advice for Li because his project fit into their areas of expertise. There were a few small technical difficulties, as the 13-hour time difference meant that scheduling Zoom meetings was a challenge, but in general, most class work and written communications were completed without problem. Adkins gave credit to Wallace for the organization of the online master’s program that made this possible. “The whole program is set up to be open to these types of opportunities,” said Adkins. “Dr. Wallace has made it really smooth and done a really good job of advertising. She does all the behind-the-scenes work and we just focus on working with the student.”
In serving as one of Li’s advisers, Shoemake, who now is a clinical assistant professor of veterinary large animal clinical sciences at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine, was himself provided an opportunity to present and collaborate with Chinese cattle producers, veterinary students and veterinarians. This took place during two separate sessions that were set up by Li, who had an interest in learning more about bovine respiratory disease. “They would see the clinical manifestations, but still not have all the answers they were looking for,” said Shoemake. “I think Dr. Li just wanted a general discussion to introduce the topic into Chinese production medicine and agriculture, so he requested I do this, we got the details figured out, and went from there.”
With the use of a translator, the lectures provided an opportunity for Shoemake to share knowledge internationally. This collaboration led to other positive developments. At least one student from Li’s institute has already enrolled in the biomedical sciences online master’s program at Mizzou, and some of the information from Shoemake’s lectures is being quoted in reference material being developed by veterinarians who attended. Adkins attributes this additional outreach to the response that Li had to his experiences with the program. “Dr. Li has been so positive about the program as a whole and has stated multiple times that people around him are looking into it,” said Adkins. “He was really impressed and excited about the program, so I think that this has created more opportunities for future collaboration.”
Shoemake says he hopes more people see value in this program and it grows in the future. “It’s such a unique opportunity within veterinary medicine,” said Shoemake. “It breaks down a lot of the barriers to an advanced degree in veterinary medicine. It’s innovative and I hope that more students begin to recognize this opportunity.”
By Nick Childress