The U.S. Department of Agriculture this month announced more than 40 awards to help veterinarians repay a portion of their veterinary school loans in return for their service in areas of the United States that lack sufficient veterinary resources.
The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) made the awards through the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP). The VMLRP has been among AVMA’s top appropriations requests since it was authorized and the governmental relations division works persistently to ensure Congress continues to fund this important program.
As a result of AVMA’s and its partners’ efforts to secure funding for the loan repayment program, the USDA will award approximately $4.6 million to veterinarians who serve in 30 states. In exchange for these awards, the veterinarians sign three-year contracts with the USDA to provide much needed services in the agency’s designated veterinarian shortage areas, such as food animal medicine, public health, epidemiology, and food safety.
Veterinarians are critical to America’s food safety and food security, and to the health and well-being of both animals and humans. However, there is a shortage of food animal veterinarians in certain areas of the country, which the USDA listed as “Designated Shortage Areas.” A leading cause for this shortage is the heavy cost of four years of professional veterinary medical training, which can average more than $150,000, according to the latest AVMA survey of graduating veterinary students.
Since 2010, 558 veterinarians have applied to the VMLRP and 170 of them have received VMLRP awards.
NIFA has illustrated a map on its website that shows all designated veterinarian shortage areas across the United States and the areas that have been filled through the program.
For more information on AVMA’s advocacy efforts on educational debt and veterinary workforce issues, contact Gina Luke at firstname.lastname@example.org.