GLASSBORO — There's not one accredited veterinary school in the Garden State, but Rowan University continues its push to change that in the years ahead.

The university's board of trustees on Wednesday approved plans to proceed with the creation of the School of Veterinary Medicine.

It'll become official on March 1, but student participation won't begin until at least 2025.

"We have a very long arduous process to go through to become an accredited program," Matthew Edson, dean of the school, told New Jersey 101.5.

Rowan is planning a cohort of 60 students for the inaugural class; the plan is to eventually increase the student count to 90.

There's a need for veterinarians nationwide, but with just 33 accredited vet schools in the U.S., there are only so many seats available.

"It's not easy to generate more students," Edson said. "It's not uncommon to have 1,500 applicants for 100 seats in an average school."

Ideally, when this school launches and offers the state's first Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, wannabe vets will stay here in New Jersey and likely pay more affordable tuition rates than they would out of state, Edson said.

"A lot of folks want to enter the profession, it's a noble profession to be in, but the debt to income ratios have always been a problem for us in the veterinary field," said Edson, founder and owner of Rancocas Veterinary Associates.

Currently, leaders are working on development of the building layouts. Among the new construction on the university campus will be a pre-clinical teaching building and a small-animal teaching hospital. The majority of students' clinical education will take place at Rowan's veterinary facilities, with a small percentage occurring at affiliated practices.

"A focus of our curriculum is going to be access to early clinical skills," Edson said. "We want to make sure we have a very diverse class of workforce-ready graduates."

According to Rowan, applications for veterinary medical colleges have been on the rise in recent years. During the 2020-21 admissions cycle, the number of applicants rose by 19%. In 2006, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges predicted a shortage of 15,000 veterinarians in the U.S. within two decades.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com

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