By Nilo E. Colinares
A cursory look at the exclusive condominiums and townhouses with residents strolling by with their favorite dogs—shit-tzu, lasha apso, labrador, golden retriever, pitbull, doberman, English bulldog—implies that there are enough jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for Veterinary Medicine graduates in our country. Add to this setting the mushrooming of veterinary medical clinics in big city malls and private homes, and the K-9 charges of men in uniform, and you portray a bright future scenario for the few who have chosen or may choose to take a crack at this six-year course for college education.
But why only the few?
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has identified Business Administration, Nursing, Teacher Education, Information Technology, and Hotel and Restaurant Management as oversubscribed courses. Undersubscribed are Science and Technology, Agriculture, and Fisheries, which subsumes Veterinary Medicine. In fact, of the 2,374 higher education institutions in the country, including the state universities and colleges and their satellite campuses, only 21 offer Veterinary Medicine—three private, and 18 public. Of course, few schools offer courses that do not appeal to many students.
But in terms of employability, VetMed graduates are easily absorbed by the job market for the profession. As Dr. Basilio Siervo, a veterinarian owner-manager of a private clinic revealed, he finds it very hard to look for an assistant. This implies, he concluded, that our graduates easily land in some place of work after graduation. The truth is, according to Dr. Ronaldo Amit, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Eastern Philippines (UEP), he has been receiving requests for CVM graduates from the Bureau of Animal Industry for 30 veterinarians; with the military asking for 20. Other SUCs make similar requests. Cavite State University, for instance, offers the position of assistant professor I to veterinarians even without a master’s degree for the moment. The position (SG 15, 3rd tranche, step 1 among SUCs) comes with a monthly take of R29,010, more than good enough for a newly-hired fresh graduate.
Perhaps due to the lengthy course duration—six years compared to the run-of-the-mill four-year degree programs—and the expensive laboratory facilities and equipment required to open the degree course, very few higher education institutions have decided to engage in this academic venture.
But those who feel the need for the field in their locality do not hesitate to establish one. Thus, in 1961, the College of Veterinary Medicine of UEP was put up, the second oldest veterinary school in the Philippines, offering a full six-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program.
The UEP had for its beginnings linkages with the now established universities, the first institutionally-accredited state universities in the country, such as the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) and the Visayas State University (VSU). History tells us that the Catarman Farm School (CFS), now UEP, had its first batch of students undergo secondary level training patterned after that of the Central Luzon Agricultural School (now CLSU) in Munoz, Nueva Ecija, whose CVM is Level IV-Re-accredited, and further identified and awarded for a few consecutive times by CHED as Center of Excellence for Veterinary Medicine. Needless to say, their graduates now occupy high positions in the government and in the private sector.
As for UEP’s CVM, their graduates are now veterinarians in the majority of the provinces and cities of Region VIII. To cite a few, UEP CVM alumni Antonio Cinco and Julie Dayap are city veterinarian of Catbalogan City and provincial veterinarian of Western Samar, respectively. Eunice Alcantara is city veterinarian of Tacloban and Arnel Corong is city veterinarian in Ormoc while Suzette Apura is provincial veterinarian of Biliran, Leyte.
Others have gone as far as Luzon, like Tarlac veterinarian Ma. Lorna Baculanta and San Pablo City veterinarian Jean Farah Orsolino. In Mindanao, Tagum City veterinarian Jesus Edullantes and Salvador City veterinarian Fernando Buna are there to prove that Veterinary Medicine graduates are highly employable anywhere in the country.
Veterinary Medical practice is, indeed, a lucrative trade, as evidenced by the various veterinary clinics owned and managed by graduates of the CLSU CVM, the 17 SCUs, and the three private HEIs offering the coveted course.
For UEP, now in its 100th year of service to education and the community, there is an alumnus veteran practitioner, previously mentioned in this article, who has built a name in Parañaque and Taguig, after 26 years of successful veterinary medical practice in the area. Dr. Siervo, in fact, has been so attached to the community that he has labeled his clinic as Palanayag, the original name of Paranaque. Beginning in a small clinic with a rental of R1,500 just after graduation, his expanded workshop now commands a rental of R51,000. Here he performs vaccination, treatment/confinement (diseased pets), grooming, minor surgeries like castration, ovariectomy, cyst removal, etc. He also maintains a pet shop, which sells different kinds of pet food, vitamins, and accessories.
Another successful private practitioner is Dr. Rebecca Costuna Goyena, who has expanded her VM Veterinary Clinic Petshop and Spa in Antipolo City with branches in Concepcion Uno, Parang, and Lakandula in Marikina City. Both Dr. Siervo and Dr. Goyena have sustained the traditional culture of giving shelter to provincianos when they come to the city. They both offer free board and lodging to graduating students who have their OJT in their clinics for a week. Dr. Siervo even challenges the faculty-in-charge, Dr. Nieta C. Amit, to have the students stay for even four weeks with free room and board, to give them more hands-on experience.
Other graduates banded together to form a sort of mini-corporation of a clinic, as in the case of the Pawsitive Animal Clinic trustees Drs. Romeo Sholto Magan, Faith Tenedero, Agustin Ganading, Jr., and Jean Rebuke. As of today, there are some two dozen veterinary medical clinics and hospitals owned and managed by UEP CVM graduates all over Metro Manila, engaged in the lucrative trade of veterinary medical practice.
These UEP CVM graduates, together with those of the Level IV-accredited CVM of CLSU, those 17 other SUCs, and the private institutions of Araneta-DLSU, the Virgen de la Milgrosa in Region I, and the Southwestern University of Cebu, are living testimonies to the fact that Veterinary Medicine graduates are not only employable, they are engaged in profitable ventures of their own, as a result of their college training.