By Malinda Larkin
Posted Oct. 17, 2009
Rising student debt, a lack of diversity within the profession, and fewer practicing rural and production animal veterinarians are among the most serious challenges facing veterinary medicine today.
The American Veterinary Medical Foundation and Pfizer Animal Health aim to address these issues by teaming up to create the Pfizer Animal Health Veterinary Student Scholarship Program.
Pfizer plans to award $2,500 scholarships to more than 225 veterinary students studying at AVMA-accredited schools in the United States. The scholarship program, announced Sept. 29, will be administered by the AVMF and involve a hand-in-hand working partnership with Pfizer and the veterinary schools and colleges.
By January 2010, Pfizer will determine the total amount of funds available for the scholarship pool, which is projected at $600,000 to $700,000. Funds should be awarded by spring.
Applications may be downloaded at www.avmf.org and are due by Nov. 13.
Second- and third-year veterinary students are eligible, regardless of their career ambitions.
Approximately 30 percent of scholarship recipients will be from diverse backgrounds, taking into consideration factors such as age, gender, physical disability, ethnicity, and other underlying characteristics, including sexual orientation, religion, and national identity.
Also, at least 40 percent of awardees will be students likely to enter food animal medicine or rural practice.
Applications will be initially reviewed by the Foundation with consideration to the stated criteria. Qualifying student applications will then be forwarded to each college's representative, who will make the final determination on which students receive scholarships. The final decisions will be made on the basis of the total amount of scholarship dollars available for disbursement and the college's enrollment.
Dr. Angeline Warner, associate dean for academic affairs at Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, said scholarship assistance is acutely needed by veterinary students in the current economy.
"I am pleased that the criteria for the Pfizer-AVMF scholarships will help us encourage both diversity and interest in a food animal medicine career among our students," Dr. Warner said.
Michael Cathey, executive director of the AVMF, said, "With one of our strategic priorities being veterinary student education and enhancement, the (Foundation) is very pleased to be partnering with Pfizer Animal Health on this exciting new scholarship program, which will provide significant impact across the country for veterinary students.
"Thanks to the generosity of Pfizer Animal Health, this new scholarship program is a tremendous leap forward in not only addressing the rising veterinary student debt but also addressing the other challenges to the profession of diversity and food animal veterinary medicine."
The scholarships are part of Pfizer's efforts to recognize veterinary students on the basis of academic excellence and leadership as well as help students with a defined financial need. The pharmaceutical company annually donates millions in support of veterinary school programs, collaborative research, fellowships, and internships as well as donating products and granting discounts to veterinary teaching hospitals. Pfizer also has led other initiatives to incorporate more diversity in the profession, including sponsorship for four years of the Diversity Symposium during the AVMA Annual Convention.