Penn Vet expands timely dual degree during COVID-19 pandemic

Interdisciplinary education is the bedrock of new academic programs forming at Penn Vet. The school has created and received approval for two distinctive dual degree programs with the School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) and the School of Arts and Sciences. The new dual degrees, the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (VMD)—Master of Social Work (MSW) and the VMD—Master of Environmental Studies (MES), will prepare future, multidisciplinary veterinarians to assume leadership roles within the environmental, social services, and public health sectors.

Jennifer Punt and four students stand discussing something, two students put on latex gloves.
Jennifer Punt and One Health in Practice students. (Pre-pandemic image: Penn Vet News)

“Veterinarians have always played important roles in public health, human health, and welfare. Current events have only underscored the importance of our profession in interprofessional efforts to tackle these complex health challenges,” says Jennifer Punt, associate dean of One Health and professor of immunology. “Our new dual degrees join the visionary VMD-PhD, VMD-MPH, and VMD-MBA programs, and they reflect the novel need for veterinarians to engage in interdisciplinary problem solving at the critical juncture of human health, environmental health, and animal health and welfare.”

The training of veterinarians in human health care and social services, which Penn Vet deems “One Health in Practice,” is a very new, nascent approach to achieve health care equity and access for vulnerable or underserved human populations. Veterinarians can be—or, in some cases are—the conduit to a wide range of human health care and social services. The VMD-MSW dual degree prepares students for the growing field of veterinary social work that supports the needs of humans who take care of animals of all kinds.

This story is by Martin Hackett. Read more at Penn Vet News.