An organization that created business education courses for rural veterinarians plans to hand over the courses to others to maintain and update.
Gary Clapp, PhD, project manager for the National Food Animal Veterinary Institute, said federal funding for the institute is expected to run out at the end of June, and he hopes by then to have agreements through which the American Association of Bovine Practitioners and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture will ensure that the courses remain relevant and available for purchase. The five business courses developed by the NFAVI have been available from the AABP and the Beef Cattle Institute.
Dr. Clapp said the Academy of Rural Veterinarians also has been invited to help with work on the courses and has expressed interest in making them available to members.
Volunteers with the institute and contributors from universities and veterinary organizations developed the courses on the basis of holes in the veterinary curriculum, Dr. Clapp said. The 25 modules in the five courses cover topics such as personal financial literacy and the process of starting a business.
The NFAVI volunteers wanted to give veterinary students and veterinarians access to education without adding to existing coursework or debt burdens, he said.
“We wanted to give them an opportunity to do this at their pace, at their time, and to provide value to that rural veterinarian food animal individual who is trying to create their own business,” he said.
The NFAVI was created at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph following an agreement in fall 2010 among the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Missouri Department of Agriculture, and Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. The USDA had agreed to provide $500,000 for a pilot program to train animal health professionals.
In an announcement at that time, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said the agreement would help the nation address a shortage of large animal veterinarians vital to producing a reliable food supply and to maintaining animal health.
The NFAVI likely will persist as a volunteer organization after June but will not have any assets, Dr. Clapp said. He expects the volunteers within the organization will help the AABP and NASDA review and develop the educational courses in the future.
Creating a successful food animal practice remains costly and difficult for graduating veterinarians, Dr. Clapp said.
“We need to find a way to help continue to protect our food source, and these people are our front-line defense,” he said. “And they have a high debt coming out right now, and it’s difficult to make a living in those communities unless you’re doing mixed animal practice.
“We have to find a way to help them. It helps us.”