Cornell U spotlights veterinary profession on Nat Geo reality TV show

Sept. 19 will usher in the premiere of a brand-new reality TV show designed to introduce viewers to the challenges, heartbreaks and even the occasional fun of veterinary school. The series, Vet School, to air on Nat Geo WILD, follows vet students over one full academic year at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Cornell's Lorin Warnick

The school's faculty considered the opportunity to participate in the show valuable on several levels. "We viewed this show as a fantastic opportunity to raise the profile of the veterinary profession and to help the public understand the rigorous education leading to a veterinary degree," said interim Dean Lorin Warnick in a press release.

The show portrays a variety of classroom and clinic experiences. In one episode, a faculty member teaches students "the hand-washing dance," a song-and-dance routine meant to ensure sanitary practices in the clinic. In another, the class is brought to a sheep farm to learn how to tip a sheep to draw a blood sample.

The series shows students rotating through many different academic disciplines from equine dentistry to canine cardiology. Three first-year students and four fourth-year students are the stars of the show.

Vet School is sure to bring some positive attention to a field that sometimes struggles to attract students. It's not just the academic rigor that turns students off to veterinary school. A study from Kansas State University earlier this year reported that average student debt for new veterinarians is $170,380, but the average starting salary is only $64,678. In March, 66 students from 26 veterinary schools went to Congress to address tough topics like student-loan debt and the lack of qualified veterinarians in rural areas.

Although Vet School is the first reality series to feature the academic side of the veterinary profession, working veterinarians are becoming a staple on cable TV. Nat Geo WILD's The Incredible Dr. Pol, which spotlights a vet practice in rural Michigan, is now in its seventh season on the network.

- access the Cornell press release here
- view clips from the show at Nat Geo WILD