AVMA advocacy efforts help secure funding for rural veterinarians

Veterinarian examining a dairy calfBecause veterinarians play a critical role in protecting human and animal health, the AVMA is focused on addressing the persistent maldistribution of veterinarians in some rural areas. Our aim is to bolster veterinary care and strengthen public health throughout the United States.

The AVMA dedicates significant resources to raising awareness about the importance of rural veterinarians and helping fill needs where they exist. We’ve already made headway on this issue through our work with other leaders in the veterinary medicine community to help Congress pass the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, which helps repay educational debt incurred by veterinarians who serve in designated shortage areas. But that’s far from our only effort. Just last month, the AVMA’s hard work – in concert with the work of other advocates and associations – resulted in a new victory to bolster rural veterinarians: the issuance of 12 grants through the Veterinary Services Grant Program (VSGP) to promote lasting solutions for rural shortage areas. The AVMA was instrumental in securing $2.3 million in funding for these grants.

Rural veterinarians and those who aspire to practice in rural areas deliver great medical care and veterinary services. But sometimes they need more support to reach the clients who need them most – whether that means funding to grow their practices or increased access to training opportunities. That’s exactly what the Veterinary Services Grant Program does by providing $2.3 million in funding to 12 grant recipients, including veterinary clinics, colleges of veterinary medicine and veterinary associations.

This funding will go to an array of initiatives such as helping veterinary clinics invest in new equipment so they can serve more clients. For instance, Town and Country Veterinary Clinic in Nebraska, one of four rural veterinary clinics that received grants to increase their service capacity by purchasing mobile equipment or other resources, will be able to expand its service area by 20 to 40 miles because of this grant.

Other recipients will use their grants to focus on increasing the pipeline of rural veterinarians and improving training opportunities. The American Association of Bovine Practitioners is planning workshops to help rural veterinarians learn financial best practices and how to develop profitable business plans. Kansas State University will create online modules and conferences to facilitate career development for rural production animal veterinarians.

“This grant allows rural veterinarians the opportunity to learn about endemic, emerging, transboundary and zoonotic diseases. Rural veterinarians are our first responders working on the frontlines of animal health to reduce the potential impact of disease – local or foreign – on production systems. Our conferences and online modules will provide knowledge and skills allowing rural veterinarians to focus on doing what they do best: helping animals and their clients,” said Dr. Jürgen A. Richt, representative from Kansas State University.

Other grant recipients include Colorado State University, University of Georgia, University of Minnesota, Utah State University, University of Wisconsin, Betsy the Vet, Lewistown Veterinary Service LLC, Squared Circle Veterinary LLC and the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association. The full list of grantees and information on their projects can be found here.

This first grant cycle is an important step toward solving our nation’s need for veterinarians in rural areas – but our work is far from over. We have an opportunity to boost funding to the Veterinary Services Grant Program to its authorized level of $10 million, which will help deliver veterinary care and services across the country where they are desperately needed. You can play an important role in securing this funding. To learn more about the AVMA’s efforts to support this program and other initiatives to bolster rural veterinarians – and what you can do to help – stay tuned to our advocacy page.

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