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Gentle Doctor (3)

Site improvements that accompany the new facilities — new access roads, parking lots, gates, and ramps — have attracted new clients.

“We’re seeing a lot of equine patients now from Minnesota. They say it’s easier to drive farther because access is better here.

That matters if you’re hauling horse trailers. We even get horses from as far away as Florida,” says Bagley.

More than anything else, the hospitals represent the face of the college to most Iowans. They’ve also been historically helpful in supporting the facilities, which for years operated self-sufficiently, with fees, donations, and tuition paying for all salaries, research, and overhead.

Today other aspects of the college better represent the future, if not the present. The college’s national rank in research funding has increased from 22nd to 9th in the last five years.

“IT [information technology] is the present and the reason we needed the upgrades,” explains Bagley.

The new complex accommodates the latest advances in radiology and tomography, as well as physical therapy and surgery.

The college’s research services have attracted one of the largest concentrations of animal health institutions in the country.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Disease Center, the National Veterinary Services Laboratories, and the Center for Veterinary Biologics are all located in Ames.

Because of technological savvy, third-millennium veterinarians look as much like lab scientists as like Petersen’s kind doctor.

“Our students today rarely come from farms and almost never from diversified family farms. Over 70 percent are female now.

Forty-five percent of our graduates go into exclusive food animal practices,” explains Dr. Patrick Halbur, Executive Director of the college’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

That’s inspired changes to both the facility and teaching curriculum. In addition to the two hospitals, the new complex includes a new Veterinary Field Services unit.

Three fully equipped veterinary trucks (“clinics on wheels”) and eight clinicians provide individual animal and herd health services for beef and dairy cattle, swine, sheep, goats, alpacas, and llamas.

“We teach mostly outside the walls of this building,” explains Halbur. “Students will go out to [food animal] facilities and see 500 patients in a day.”

(Read more about The Gentle Doctor)

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