The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Assn. has launched an initiative designed to increase the number of veterinary students who go into and stay in underserved areas of the veterinary profession.
Project Pennsylvania would establish a targeted loan forgiveness program which helps take off a portion of debt for each year a newly graduated veterinarian remains in the underserved region or sector. The program would also target recruitment of students interested in these areas and on-the-job mentoring for new graduates.
“Pennsylvania has a shortage of large-animal veterinarians in certain geographic regions, as well as a shortage of practitioners in less traditional areas such as biomedical research, public health, regulatory medicine and academia,” said Robert Fetterman, VMD, the association’s president and large animal practitioner. “Using loan forgiveness as an incentive to fill these voids is an investment in the state’s agricultural industry, as well as in food safety and even national security.”
A Project Pennsylvania coalition will be established. It will educate the public and policymakers on the issue and will also develop industry partnerships and advocate for legislative initiatives.
Organizations that are already lending support are the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, PennAg Industries, Pennsylvania Society for Biomedical Research, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Pennsylvania State Grange and the Pennsylvania Dairy Stakeholders Group.
Other agricultural states such as Kansas and Nebraska have already begun similar programs.