Do you live or work in a rural community where more veterinarians are needed? The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is looking to identify areas where offering student-loan repayment and other financial aid can improve veterinary service coverage.
Until November 9, 2020, state animal health officials can submit nominations for areas to be designated as USDA veterinary shortage areas. Designated areas become eligible for assistance through the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) and the Veterinary Services Grant Program (VSGP).
These two programs work together to help alleviate veterinary access gaps in rural, agricultural communities, and in public health veterinary practice. Each year, USDA solicits veterinary shortage information from state animal health officials before ultimately announcing USDA veterinary shortage areas to be mitigated through VMLRP and VSGP awards.
State animal health officials can now submit their areas' veterinary shortage information for 2021. Veterinary professionals can work with state and local veterinary medical associations and state animal health officials to nominate possible shortage areas. Find detailed information and the nomination form on the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) website.
The final USDA veterinary shortage areas are expected to be announced in February 2021, when the VMLRP application window will open.
NIFA is currently finalizing the VMLRP awards for this year. The agency has extended 76 VMLRP offers to veterinarians in 33 states for 2020. In September, NIFA issued $3 million to support 17 projects with grants under the VSGP program. These included 10 awards to support rural practice enhancement and seven awards to support education, extension, and training efforts in designated shortage areas.
AVMA is a leading supporter of funding for the VMLRP and VSGP programs, along with others in the veterinary community. AVMA also continues to drive support for the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act, which would extend the program’s impact to reach more communities in need.