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AVMA, AVMF announce new food-animal veterinarian incentive program

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Mar 12, 2010
By dvm360.com staff
Schaumburg, Ill -- The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) announced a new initiative March 12 that aims to help veterinarians who pursue careers in food-animal medicine.

The Food Animal Veterinarian Recruitment and Retention Program is a joint effort of the AVMA and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF). It also will be funded by several industry partners, which will provide financial incentives like student loan debt forgiveness for veterinarians who promise to serve for four years in the food-animal veterinary medicine field.

"The AVMA has been working on Capitol Hill for years to generate attention, pass legislation and fund programs that would directly address the food-animal veterinarian shortage, and we are very pleased that the federal loan repayment program is seeing the light of day," says AVMA Chief Executive Officer Ron DeHaven. "But we also know that we can’t rely solely on government funding; we also have to step up and do our part."

The new program is meant to complement the federal Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, which will soon be accepting applications.

The need for such programs is critical, according to AVMA, with about half of all practicing food-animal veterinarians over the age of 50 and ready to retire. Similarly, only about 15 percent of veterinary students, who are faced with upwards of $120,000 in student debt, pursue careers in food-animal medicine. At that rate, AVMA estimates food-animal veterinarians will fall short by 4 to 5 percent annually through 2016.

AVMA hopes to support about 50 rural food-animal veterinarians over the next five years by providing payments of up to $100,000 per practitioner to be applied to their student loans.

The new program was announced at the annual meeting of the Student American Veterinary Medical Association in Madison, Wis.