The Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine is directing a program to strengthen veterinary services to underserved rural populations in Kentucky through a grant provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Services Grant Program and in partnership with Kentucky veterinarians.
The $237,233 grant allows the college to create a program to “develop, implement, and sustain private veterinary services through education, training, recruitment, placement and retention of veterinarians and students of veterinary medicine,” said Dan Givens, DVM, Ph.D., associate dean for academic affairs at Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine. It is one of 13 grants by USDA’s National Institute of Food & Agriculture.
Objectives of the grant are:
- Connect veterinarians serving in rural geographic areas where additional veterinarians are needed with veterinary students interested in working in those areas;
- Provide quality educational opportunities for veterinary students in business management and sustainability in rural veterinary practice;
- Provide quality continuing education at a reduced cost to veterinarians serving in designated rural areas of unmet needs;
- Provide business management education and practice sustainability consultation to rural veterinary practitioners in underserved areas, and
- Facilitate and create networking opportunities that assist graduating veterinarians with transitioning into sustainable careers in rural underserved areas.
The grant will match senior veterinary students interested in large-animal veterinary medicine with rural Kentucky veterinarians in locations where additional veterinarian help is needed. Veterinarians will mentor senior veterinary students and can have their practice participate in the business practice management program.
“The long-term goals of the program are to assist veterinarians currently serving in rural underserved areas as well as to work with current students to transition into sustainable careers in rural areas,” Dr. Givens said. “Adequately supporting current veterinarians and recruiting future veterinarians into sustainable careers will meet the needs to maintain the health and well-being of cattle, sheep, and goat populations and ensure the provision of a safe and wholesome food supply.”
The areas identified are based on high cattle-to-veterinarian ratios, demographics indicating that many of the current food animal veterinarians are older and have limited their practice or are retired and the number of practices that have a significant food animal focus but only one veterinarian despite recruitment attempts.