USDA looking for veterinarians to practice in shortage areas

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced 2018 veterinary shortage areas for the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP). In total, NIFA has designated 187 areas across the country as having inadequate access to livestock and public health veterinarians. Now, NIFA is accepting applications for veterinarians who want to apply for a VMLRP award to serve in one of these areas.

AVMA worked closely with Congress and USDA to establish the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, which provides a total of $75,000 in student loan repayments to qualified livestock and public health veterinarians who serve at least three years in designated shortage areas. This program helps relieve the student debt burden of veterinarians and enables them to pursue rural practice without sacrificing financial stability.

Veterinarians interested in applying can read about the qualifications and application process on NIFA’s website. You can also can view all 2018 shortage areas eligible for awards. Applications are due March 16.

While Congress has not yet finalized the program’s funding level for 2018, there has not been enough funding to meet demand for the program in past years. That’s why the AVMA is urging Congress to expand the program by passing the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act. This legislation would remove a withholding tax imposed on program awards, thus allowing the program to help more communities within the current funding level. Expanding access to rural veterinary care is vital to maintaining the health and welfare of livestock, which protects the livelihoods of ranchers and farmers.

If you’d like Congress to expand the program, please use our online tool to send an editable, pre-written letter to your lawmakers asking them to pass the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act. If you’re a current or former participant in the VMLRP – or hope to participate in the future – you also can share your story with us. Your stories are invaluable in helping us demonstrate the importance of this program to Congress.

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