Educators in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University received a $20,000 gift from the Mid-America Alpaca Foundation to create the world's first Web-based continuing education program focused exclusively on llamas and alpacas.
These members of the camelid species require specialized medical training and knowledge. Growing interest in camelids and the emergence of 6,000 alpaca farms nationwide has prompted the need for veterinarians to broaden their expertise in working with these valuable animals, said Dr. David Anderson, professor and head of agricultural practices at K-State's Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital and program co-creator.
This "virtual training" program will allow veterinarians from anywhere in the world - Kansas to California to Peru and beyond - at any time of the day or night to gain access to critical training information at their leisure or in times of crisis.
"Veterinarians may need immediate access to information to better care for or diagnose life-threatening conditions in llamas or alpacas," Anderson said. "The partnership with the Mid-America Alpaca Foundation is vital to our ability to provide up-to-date, accurate information in a growing global market."
Veterinarians often cannot afford to spend critical time and resources attending in-depth continuing education programs dedicated to one species.
"A program of this caliber allows us to broaden our teaching mission while solidifying the Alpaca foundation and K-State as leaders in veterinary education innovation," he said.
Pete Caffrey, Mid-America Alpaca Foundation president, said K-State was the logical partner given the renowned faculty experts and shared commitment to education. "Our foundation has made educating veterinary students about alpacas a top priority because the health of members' herds rests squarely with the quality of medical care these animals receive." This program launches the second phase of the foundation's effort, Design for Education.
Dr. Meredyth Jones, assistant professor and coordinator of the Alpacas on Campus program at K-State, said demand is high for this information.
"We receive phone calls daily from practicing veterinarians with questions regarding camelid cases needing the latest information available in camelid medicine and surgery," Jones said. "We very much enjoy this interaction with practitioners and see this as another way to serve them."
Anderson and Jones are collaborating with Dr. Dusty Nagy at the University and Missouri and Dr. Melanie Boileau at Oklahoma State University, internal medicine experts who share an interest in veterinary education and alpaca health issues.
More information about this program is available online by visiting K-State's Veterinary Medical continuing education office at www.vet.ksu.edu/CE.