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Dual Degrees Mean More Work, More Rewards
by Jonas Siegel

Like the amphibians he studies, Craig Miller thrives in many types of environments. The third-year DVM student can manage the clinical and research demands of the College’s joint-degree program, and just about anything else that he encounters along the way. It takes hard work to achieve two degrees simultaneously, but certain students take on the challenge because they enjoy the diversity of activities and opportunities that expanded study provides.

“The more I have going on, the more I am motivated,” says Casey Cadile, another third-year DVM student, who decided the summer after her first year of veterinary school to also work toward a master’s degree in veterinary clinical medicine. As part of her master’s work, she is completing research on the correlation between the presence of telomerase in tumors and the tumor’s degree of malignancy. 

Enrolling in the joint-degree program has added 10 to 20 hours of lab work and extra course work weekly to her already-busy DVM schedule. But she says the extra load hasn’t affected her DVM class work adversely. 

More marketable
Miller began his joint program the spring term of his first year. He came to the College with an interest in wildlife medicine and soon learned that his best opportunity to get involved in that area was through research. 

Miller’s pursuit of a master’s degree allows him to complete research on the decline of amphibian populations, which serve as indicator species for their ecosystem. His research has given him the added experience of writing grant proposals and doing in-depth data analyses. 

[Miller Time!]Before coming to the College, Miller was awarded a Watson Fellowship that funded a year of research on captive animal breeding throughout the world. He traveled to 10 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia to gather data, a process that helped him decide to pursue wildlife conservation in his subsequent studies.

Craig Miller visited the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minn., in 1998 while he was in the state to attend the summer Envirovet intensive short course.

“The DVM is a great degree,” says Miller. “There are so many opportunities beyond private practice.” The master’s degree makes a person even more marketable, he says. 

More experienced 
Pursuing a joint degree also allows students to learn more about a wider range of subject matter. Tony Goldberg, a fourth-year DVM student, is completing a master’s degree in epidemiology, fitting his research and course work in any time he can, during the summer, at night, and on the weekends.

[Goldberg]Goldberg came to the College in 1996 after completing a Ph.D. in biological anthropology at Harvard University. As part of his Ph.D. research, Goldberg studied primate genetics in the rain forests of Uganda and Zaire. Being in those countries has affected his research goals. “I saw first-hand how quickly humans are encroaching on those ecosystems and how little time we have to study them,” says Goldberg. The poverty and civil conditions of the people and societies in Africa also opened his eyes to ways in which Americans take for granted basic freedoms. 

He decided to veer from the traditional post-doctoral student career route and attend veterinary school. The College’s joint-degree program was an opportunity for him to continue doing research, which he thoroughly enjoys, as well as to receive his DVM. Goldberg’s present research on molecular epidemiology, specifically in pigs, has been well received, in part, he thinks, “because I have been able to apply some of the techniques I learned studying primates.” 

The college’s joint-degree program caters specifically to this type of interdisciplinary experience of its participants. The program’s very nature provides opportunities for diverse study by requiring students to participate in research as they learn clinical procedures. 
While completing his DVM degree, Goldberg has gained invaluable experience working with real animals and live viruses as opposed to just reading about them. Getting close to what you study allows you to learn the intimate details and makes academic material come alive.

It can also be terribly frightening, as in the case of Cadile. Last year she was diagnosed with cancer and left school for a year of treatment.

More opportunities
[Cadile over the mountain]Since she returned to class-es this year, Cadile has found that her research on oncology has been intensified by her own experiences with cancer. She returned to the same hectic class and research schedule and is hoping through her renewed involvement to see how animal research and treatment of cancer measure up to human treatment practices. 

Casey Cadile learned to climb mountains in Alaska in August 1999 soon after recovering from cancer treatment.

Participants in the DVM/MS joint-degree program need to fulfill all of the master’s degree requirements, including research and publishing, on top of the DVM demands. After they are accepted into each individual program, students work with advisors to customize a schedule that allows them to meet the requirements and to figure out if any courses meet requirements in both programs, according to Dr. Gerald Pijanowski, associate dean of Academic and Student Affairs. 

Dr. Pijanowski says that the purpose of the joint-degree program is “to get those students who have an interest in academic medicine and research jobs to participate in the program.” This has worked out well for Goldberg, who will be joining the epidemiology faculty of the College when he completes both of his degrees next fall. 
After Miller finishes both degrees, which he estimates will take another two years, he would like to go into private practice for a while and eventually wind up in wildlife conservation, as he originally intended to do. 

Cadile, on the other hand, plans to complete an oncology residency on her path to becoming a veterinary oncologist. 

For all three, the dual degree option offers a lot of opportunities—just right for people who thrive on more of everything.

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