The recent American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) 2013 Veterinary Workforce Report acknowledges the challenges in the veterinary profession such as salary decreases and tuition increases. It also suggests there isn’t a shortage of large animal veterinarians, but a shortage of large animal medical services in certain geographical areas. That being said, applications for the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) are being accepted through May 31. The program places veterinary graduates in underserved areas and in turn helps repay educational loans.
Shortage areas as defined by the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Act and determined by the secretary of agriculture are based on which geographic and disciplinary areas have diminished services. Efforts are focused on the areas of food animal medicine, public health, epidemiology and food safety. “Priority is given to agreements with veterinarians who practice food animal medicine in areas where there is a shortage of private practice veterinarians serving the food supply sector,” states a release from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.
The program pays eligible veterinarians up to $25,000 per year for a three-year contract to serve in a NIFA-designated shortage area. Loan repayments may consist of payments of the principal and interest on student loans that go toward tuition and other reasonable education expenses such as fees, books and laboratory expenses garnered during veterinary school.
U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., with the support of U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla.--both veterinarians and founding members of the Veterinary Medicine Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives--recently introduced the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act. This legislation provides a federal income tax exemption for financial awards received under the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, which are currently taxed at 39 percent. No action has been taken on the bill at this time.
The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program application package is available at www.nifa.usda.gov/vmlrp . For more information, interested veterinarians are encouraged to call Gary Sherman, NIFA national program leader, veterinary science, at (202) 401-4952 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.