April 30 is recognized as World Veterinary Day, created by the World Veterinary Association in 2000 to celebrate the veterinary profession and promote the amazing work that veterinarians do.
USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Veterinary Services Grant Program (VSGP) and the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) support the needs of the veterinarian career field. Learn more on the impact made by each program and read about a few grant recipients.
Veterinary Services Grant Program
Food animal veterinarians are critical to maintaining a healthy, secure and safe food supply. VSGP is designed to help mitigate food animal veterinary service shortages in the U.S. and its territories. The goals of the VSGP are to support the resilience of food animal veterinary medicine through education, Extension, and training (EET) funds for accredited schools and organizations; and through rural practice enhancement (RPE) funds for veterinary clinics that provide services in veterinary shortage situations.
Approximately $3 million was awarded in fiscal year 2021 to seven EET grantees and 10 RPE grantees. VSGP has provided 89 grants and awarded over $15 million since the inception of the program in 2016. For more information visit the FY 2021 VSGP Annual Report and the VSGP Historical Report 2016- 2021.
Dr. Jacqueline Nolting is a VSGP grant recipient who works as a research scientist in the Animal Influenza Ecology and Epidemiology Research Program at The Ohio State University. Currently, Dr. Nolting is leading a NIFA-funded project titled, “Moving from Meows to Moos; Recruiting Teens to Food Animal Veterinary Medicine Through Education, Experience and Engagement,” aimed at building awareness of careers in food animal medicine to high school students. Learn more about Dr. Nolting here.
Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program
The VMLRP helps qualified veterinarians offset a significant portion of the debt incurred in pursuit of their veterinary medical degrees in return for their service in certain high-priority veterinary shortage areas. Approximately $7.6 million was awarded in FY2021. The distribution of student debt for the 78 awardees in FY2021 shows most awardees were those with over $100,000 in student loan debt.
Since the inception of the VMLRP in FY2010, NIFA has received over 1,900 applications from more than 1,300 applicants and awarded support to over 600 veterinarians across the country with new and renewal contracts.
Dr. Racheal McKinney is a veterinarian at Urban Livestock and Equine Veterinary Services in San Tan Valley, Arizona. She is a previous VMLRP grant recipient who was able to start her own mobile veterinary clinic that focused on helping farm animal species after graduation. She was one of only two practices in the Phoenix area treating species such as swine and ruminants.
Dr. McKinney is also a recent recipient of NIFA’s FY2021 VSGP- Rural Practice Enhancement. Learn more about Dr. McKinney here.