The frequently asked questions may assist you in commonly asked questions regarding the VMLRP program, shortage nomination form, award process and other resources. If you have additional questions, please email us: VMLRP.
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VMLRP Program FAQs
What is VMLRP?
The VMLRP is an educational loan repayment program for veterinarians (i.e., individuals who earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (or equivalent) from an accredited college of veterinary medicine). In return for loan repayment, VMLRP award recipients provide veterinary service in a designated veterinary shortage situation for three years. The intent of the program is to strengthen the nation’s animal health infrastructure and supplement the Federal response during animal health emergencies. We encourage applicants to reach out to us if they have any questions about the application process or the program in general.
Visit the VMLRP website at https://nifa.usda.gov/grants/programs/veterinary-medicine-loan-repayment-program for information regarding the VMLRP program. Please contact the VMLRP program office by email at email@example.com if you have any questions.
Who funds NIFA and the VMLRP?
NIFA and the VMLRP are supported by annual congressional appropriations. The Federal budget line-item designation for the VMLRP, within appropriations to the USDA NIFA, is National Veterinary Medical Services Act (NVMSA).
How many applications do you receive annually? How many awards are given out?
On average VMLRP receives about 150 applications and issues approximately 70 awards each year. However, the number of awards depends on a few unknown factors such as the amount of appropriated funds, eligible debt held by successful applicants and the quality of applicant pool, but our intent is to maximize the number of awards within the funding available for awards under this program. Each shortage situation area can only be awarded to one applicant.
Where can I find information on how often new graduates receive this award?
On an annual basis, a report is created to provide information about the applications, awards, and designated veterinary shortage areas. The VMLRP Annual Reports are found at VMLRP Reports and Statistics.
How are applicants selected for VMLRP awards?
Applications are evaluated by a panel of peer reviewers who are selected based upon training and experience in relevant veterinary clinical medicine, veterinary science, or veterinary Page | 6 specialty area fields. In carrying out their review, the members of the peer review panel consider the quality of match between an applicant’s professional training and experience and the circumstances and needs of the designated shortage situation it proposes to fill. The evaluation criteria used by the panel can be found in Part III of the Request for Application (RFA).
When will applicants be notified about their awards?
VMLRP applicants will receive notice of award funding by September 30th following the application deadline.
Will the VMLRP be offered next year?
NIFA intends to hold an application cycle for the VMLRP each year. However, funding is contingent upon the availability of appropriations each fiscal year. It is not possible to predict potential appropriations for this or any other program prior to appropriation action each year.
Who should be contacted if a person is interested in serving as a reviewer on the panel?
If you are interested in participating as a panelist, we ask that you complete the USDA NIFA Peer Review System Panelist Recruitment. Panelists are selected based on their expertise, credentials, and NIFA panel needs. For more information, contact the program staff listed in the Request for Applications for the program you are interested in serving.
Who is eligible? Who is not eligible to apply for the VMLRP?
You are eligible if you:
- Possess a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM (or equivalent)) degree from a college of Veterinary Medicine accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Education (COE).
- You have qualified educational loan debt of a combined minimum of $15,000.
- You are able to secure employment in a designated veterinary shortage situation within 90 days of award notification.
- You meet all other terms and conditions of the application process.
Individuals who owe a veterinary service obligation, have a federal judgment lien against their property arising from Federal debt, or have total qualified debt that does not meet the debt threshold are not eligible to apply for the VMLRP. Please visit the VMLRP Eligibility website for additional details.
How do I know if I have an outstanding service obligation?
You need to contact the institution that awarded you a grant, award, or scholarship with an associated service obligation to ascertain if there is any remaining obligation. An individual who owes a service obligation for veterinary service to an entity (e.g., Federal government, State government, or institution) is ineligible for the VMLRP unless the obligation will be completely satisfied prior to the beginning of service under the VMLRP. If you are still interested in the VMLRP after you complete your service obligation and continue to meet the eligibility criteria, you may apply for a VMLRP award in a future application cycle.
Does participation in scholarship or loan forgiveness programs (such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program) make me ineligible to participate in the VMLRP?
If your participation does not incur a service obligation and you still maintain a qualified amount of educational loan debt, you remain eligible to participate in the VMLRP. However, we would encourage applicants to reach out directly to the Department of Education, or other program sponsor, for additional information on how participation in VMLRP may impact their PSLF status, qualifying payments, etc.
Can I receive VMLRP repayment for more than three years?
If you continue to meet VMLRP eligibility requirements, you may apply to renew your VMLRP agreement for as long as it takes to repay all your DVM debt. Renewal awards can be for one, two, or three years depending on the amount of debt (See Section VI-G). Like new applications, renewals are competitive and are reviewed using the same criteria applied to new awards, with an additional element. Renewals are also reviewed on the progress made during your initial award. Additional information on renewal applications can be found in the RFA and on the VMLRP Renewals Application Guide.
Can I receive credit toward my service obligation for the service already performed if I am employed in a designated veterinary shortage area?
VMLRP services are not retroactive. The services required for the VMLRP begin on the starting date of the service agreement.
Do I need to have a DVM (or equivalent) degree before I apply?
Individuals are required to possess a DVM (or equivalent) degree from an accredited college of Veterinary Medicine by July 1 of the respective application year from a college of veterinary medicine accredited by the AVMA COE. Please review the Eligibility information within the RFA for further requirements.
I am graduating this year, and I don’t have my APHIS accreditation certification date, what should I put on my application where it asks for this information?
I completed the course but am not licensed in any state. If you are graduating this year and are waiting on a state license and APHIS accreditation you can put ‘pending’ in those areas of the form. You must show proof of graduation from a U.S. AVMA-accredited College or School of Veterinary Medicine, offering either a DVM or VMD degree, by July 1, of the year you apply for VMLRP. It is understood that if you are graduating in the same year that you are applying to the VMLRP, you may not have your degree yet. Therefore, the VMLRP provides that additional time needed to finish your final semester. You will be required to provide a copy of your certification and/or license prior to executing a service agreement.
Is the VMLRP for new graduates only?
Anyone with a DVM degree (or equivalent) from a college of veterinary medicine accredited by the AVMA COE is welcome to apply. Both new and experienced veterinarians with eligible educational debt are welcome to apply.
Do I have to move if my practice is in the county that borders a county designated as a shortage situation area to be eligible to apply?
The VMLRP is a national program, thus the objective is to fill shortage situations with veterinarians best able to mitigate these shortages. There is no requirement that applicants live, or be based, in the same county or state as the shortage situation. It must be clear in your application how you will provide services to the shortage situation applied.
Can I apply if I already have an established practice in a designated veterinary shortage situation area?
The VMLRP includes veterinarians with established practices in shortage areas as a form of retention in addition to the recruitment of veterinarians to shortage areas. Competitiveness may also depend upon the evaluation criteria stated within the RFA to determine the relative severity of the veterinary shortage situation; and the practicality and logistical feasibility of applicant’s plan to address the specific shortage.
Can I still apply if I received my DVM from a college that is not accredited by the AVMA?
Federal regulations dictate that, to be eligible for the VMLRP, eligible loans must be received for the individual’s attendance at a college of veterinary medicine accredited by the AVMA COE. The AVMA COE is a specialized accrediting agency that is recognized and authorized by the U.S. Department of Education. The list of veterinary schools accredited by the AVMA COE can be found at: https://www.avma.org/education/accredited-veterinary-colleges.
Am I eligible if the US veterinary school I attended became accredited* by the AVMA?
The VMLRP will only repay debt incurred at an institution that is accredited at the time of attendance and graduation. The school was accredited the first day of attendance and the VMLRP will repay debt incurred at that institution during the time of your attendance, up until graduation. This includes any scenario involving an individual transferring from a non-accredited institution to an accredited institution. Individuals with a degree from an institution that was not accredited at the time the degree was conferred remain ineligible for award. Individuals who attended an accredited institution prior to transferring to a non-accredited institution from which they received their DVM are not eligible for VMLRP.
Regarding accreditation of foreign schools, VMLRP will repay debt incurred at an institution during the time that institution was accredited, which could be several years after the establishment of that school. If an institution received accreditation status during your attendance at this institution, only the portion of veterinary school loans that were disbursed after the institution’s date of accreditation shall be repaid by the VMLRP. If you received your DVM degree from an institution that was not accredited at the time the degree was conferred, you remain ineligible for a VMLRP award. For example, Ross University established their veterinary school in 1982, but did not receive their accreditation until January 2011. Only veterinarians who graduated from Ross University in 2011 and later would be eligible to have their loan paid back only for the years the school was accredited.
Which loans are eligible for loan repayment?
Loans qualify for repayment if they are or have been issued by any U.S. government (federal, state, or local) entity, accredited U.S. academic institution(s), and/or commercial lender(s) that are subject to examination and supervision in their capacity as lending institutions by an agency of the United States or the state in which the lender has its principal place of business. Loans must have been used by the applicant for tuition expenses, or other reasonable educational or living expenses, while attending a college of veterinary medicine accredited by the AVMA Council on Education resulting in a DVM degree (or equivalent).
Are my undergraduate loans eligible for repayment through the VMLRP?
No. The VMLRP will only pay for loans that were received for attendance at an AVMA Council on Education accredited veterinary school resulting in a DVM (or equivalent) degree.
Are loans consolidated with undergraduate loans eligible for repayment through the VMLRP?
If you consolidated your veterinary school loans with other educational loans (e.g., undergraduate), you may apply for the VMLRP; however, only the eligible portion of the consolidation (veterinary school loans) will be eligible for the VMLRP if you are selected for an award. The VMLRP Loan Consolidation website has an example of how the amount of your award is calculated if your DVM loans were consolidated with other educational loans. The VMLRP Loan Document Tutorial has detailed information on each type of loan document for each loan listed in your application. Please visit the RFA for further application requirements and deadlines.
Individuals who consolidated their DVM loans with non-educational loans, such as a home equity loan or personal loan, or loans belonging to another individual, such as a spouse or child, are ineligible for VMLRP repayment
I consolidated my student loans. Do you need me to send promissory notes for the original loans?
No. You need to provide at least the consolidation loan promissory note (must show list of every loan included in the consolidation). A Master Promissory Note would suffice if it included the consolidation loan.
I have an online account with my lender. Can I send a printout of my account statement?
Yes. Please be sure the printout shows your name, current balance and date, loan type, and repayment status
Is the interest accrued on my DVM loan debt eligible for the VMLRP?
Interest accrued on DVM loan debt does count towards the VMLRP. However, interest accrued during the program does not count towards the VMLRP as this is classified as new DVM loan debt. It would be applicable if an applicant chooses to renew their agreement. The total awarded amount and repayment schedule for each applicant is determined by the DVM loan debt.
When do I need to start employment in a shortage area to be eligible? Can I apply if I have not secured an offer in one of the designated shortage situation areas?
You may apply even if you have not secured an offer of employment or started a practice in a designated shortage area. You will be given 90 days from the notification of your award to secure employment or establish a practice in the designated veterinary shortage situation. Failure to secure employment or establish a practice in the designated veterinary shortage situation within the given timeframe may result in withdrawal of the award offer
What is a shortage situation and who determines an area as a shortage situation?
Shortages are defined through implementation of a shortage nomination process. State Animal Health Officials (SAHO), or their designees, submit nominations to designate specific shortages and NIFA uses an external panel of veterinary experts to review these nominations. Shortage situation areas are nominated each year. Each state is allocated a number of shortage nominations they can submit per year based on state land area and total farm-gate value of animals and animal products, as reported by the National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS). Each year, the SAHO can choose to carry over the previous years’ nominations or designate new shortage areas. A NIFA panel reviews all submitted nominations to ensure they meet the required criteria and recommends each shortage designation for either recommended or recommended with resolution as a designated shortage situation. To address changing conditions, NIFA assesses the relative demand for reprioritization of shortage situation distribution within the States on an annual basis
Prior to the opening of an application cycle, a map showing all designated veterinary shortage situations is shown on the VMLRP website. Potential applicants can view designated shortage situations for the current application year by filtering by Fiscal Year (FY). For shortages within a particular state click the state of interest on the U.S. map.
How many nominations did NIFA receive and how many received designation as a shortage situation?
Each year, NIFA receives approximately 200 nominations from across the country. NIFA provides an opportunity for recommendation with resolution, so that each nomination submitted will be designated. This offers an opportunity for the nominating official to address any areas of concern before being designated and published.
If you get awarded the VMLRP one year, how does it work getting it the following two years? What if your shortage area does not qualify as a shortage area the following year?
The award for new applicants lasts for three years to provide services in the shortage area to which you applied. Every SAHO handle awarded shortage areas differently depending on each individual situation. Some will consider the VMLRP awardee as filling the shortage and will nominate a new shortage area the next year. If a SAHO feels there is still a need for additional food animal practitioners in that area, they may renominate the same area the following year, or a new area with some overlapping territory. Regardless of the SAHO’s nomination decision, if you accept an award with the VMLRP as a new applicant, your obligation is to provide services in the shortage situation area in which you were awarded for three years.
Will the VMLRP shortage situation areas for this year be available next year?
Shortage situation areas are nominated by the SAHO each year. SAHO’s are allocated a specific number of shortage nominations they can submit for their respective states each year. Each year, the SAHO can choose to carry over the previous years’ nominations or designate new shortage areas. This decision is handled differently by each SAHO and is based on a multitude of factors individual to each state.
How often will NIFA solicit nominations from SAHOs?
We presume that, over time, the shortage situation priorities of a state will change due to veterinarians relocating to fill critical areas designated by the VMLRP. We will also be mindful of spontaneous shifts in perceived threats to animal health in time and space. To address changing conditions, we will assess the relative demand for reprioritization of shortage situation distribution within the States on an annual basis. However, we reserve the right to solicit nominations from SAHOs on a biennial basis to save administrative costs and to adhere to the aggressive annual program schedule and/or to respond to funding fluctuations.
How do I know if a certain area qualifies as a shortage situation for the VMLRP?
Prior to the opening of an application cycle, a map showing all designated veterinary shortage situations is shown on the VMLRP website. You will be able to view designated shortage situations for an application year by filtering by Fiscal Year (FY). For shortages within a particular state click the state of interest on the U.S. map.
Why does my state or area not have a designated shortage situation area?
The SAHO of each state is the authorized nominator of shortage situations for the respective state. Stakeholders with interest in providing data in support of a case for a shortage situation in a particular area may contact their SAHO. It is important to keep in mind that the number of shortage situations is capped for each state, based on state land area and total farm-gate value of animals and animal products, as reported by the National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS). Therefore, the nominating official, or their designee, is responsible for prioritizing the severity of shortage situations and submitting nominations based on that prioritization. There is no guarantee that a SAHO will prioritize any given position high enough to make the final list. Nevertheless, it is also anticipated that SAHOs would find input from stakeholders very helpful as they undertake this prioritization process in response to periodic solicitations by NIFA for new nominations. If there are no designated shortage situations in your state or area, it may be that no shortage situation nominations were submitted by the state, or shortage situation nominations were submitted by the state, but the external review panel did not recommend them for official designation.
Can I apply for multiple locations that may be of interest to me?
No. Each applicant may choose only one shortage situation. Select your best match, make your best case, and be strategic
On the Shortage nomination form, there is a 'must cover' and 'may cover' species list. For type I/II shortages, does this mean that the FTE service requirement can include any of those species versus only the 'must cover' category?
Must serve species or species type are those animals a veterinarian MUST be prepared, willing, and committed to provide services for to mitigate the shortage situation. May serve species or species type are those animals a veterinarian MAY provide services for to meet the required percent full time equivalent (FTE). This recognizes that not all food animal species require the same level of services year-round, and a veterinarian may need the flexibility to provide services to other species during the "off season" to meet their percent FTE. The VMLRP Program requests justification in your service log if such events were to happen. Any challenges with fulfilling these requirements need to be discussed with the VMLRP as soon as they are discovered to avoid a breach of agreement.
How does NIFA know whether an award recipient is fulfilling his or her agreement in accordance with the terms and conditions of the agreement?
NIFA requires you or your employer complete and submit a quarterly verification of service format attesting to the statements that you are meeting the terms and conditions of your agreement. NIFA is authorized to perform audits and site visits of participants should the need arise. Your quarterly loan repayment disbursements will not be released until this verification is provided to NIFA.
Do I have to stay and serve the same area for the entire three years of the VMLRP agreement?
Yes. A transfer from one VMLRP designated shortage situation to another will not be authorized.
Will NIFA help me find employment in a shortage area?
No. This program is only a loan repayment program. It is up to the applicant to find or create a veterinary position in the designated area, and thereby mitigate the shortage.
Under what circumstances will NIFA allow an award recipient to be released from the service obligation before the end of the agreement?
Early termination of an agreement will not be considered a breach in cases where such necessary release is beyond the control of the award recipient. For example, a state may determine funding for a Type-III position (Public Practice shortage) is no longer available or a veterinary practice might unexpectedly close in a shortage area leaving the award recipient without employment or the ability to open their own practice.
Who can be a recommender for a VMLRP application?
There are no specific requirements on who a recommender may be, it is up to the applicant to choose who they think will write the best recommendation for their application. We do encourage applicants to choose their recommenders based on the case they made in their personal statement and represent their ability to serve the specific requirements that are listed in the shortage nomination form. The recommenders should be able to speak to your ability to serve that shortage area. These recommendation letters will be used by the panel to assess your application and your ability to fulfill the shortage situation area to which you applied. We encourage applicants to reach out as early as possible to their recommenders, to ensure that recommendation letters get submitted by the deadline.
Is it best to have recommenders send their forms directly to you or for us to include it into our entire application?
You can include your recommendation letters in your application, or you can have your recommenders send their recommendation letters directly to us; whichever is more convenient to you. You must have 3 recommendation letters by the deadline to be considered for the program. It is always the applicant’s responsibility to contact and follow up with recommenders to ensure all required recommendations are completed and submitted in accordance with the applicable instructions. Recommenders will receive verification of receipt of an emailed recommendation from the VMLRP program team.
Is an electronic signature on the application form acceptable or does it need to be printed and signed?
Both electronic signatures and ink signatures are acceptable on the forms.
When can I submit a renewal application?
If you have at least $15,000 of qualified DVM education debt and continue to meet the eligibility criteria at the end of your current VMLRP award, you may apply for a renewal award during the application cycle that immediately precedes the last day of your current service agreement or the following year. For example, if your service agreement is scheduled to end on December 31, 2020, then you should submit a renewal application during the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 or 2021 application cycle. Please visit the VMLRP News & Timeline for updates on timelines and news. The VMLRP Request for Applications (RFA) will describe which years are eligible for a renewal award.
What shortage situation code do I use for a renewal award?
Renewal awards are based on your current (original) shortage situation. Therefore, the shortage situation does not need to be on the designated shortage situation map for the current application year. If the area you are serving is designated for the current application year, be sure to use the five-character shortage identification code for your original award. You can find your shortage identification code on any of your service verification forms or, if you received your award in 2016 or later, on your VMLRP agreement. Additionally, shortage situations can be found at the VMLRP Shortage Situation map; filter for the state and fiscal year (FY) applied.
How will my renewal application be evaluated?
Renewal applications will be evaluated with the same criteria as new applications. In addition, reviewers will examine the progress you made during your original VMLRP service agreement and plans for continued progress in relieving the shortage situation. Please review the Evaluation Criteria of the RFA.
How is the length of the award determined for a renewal?
If you have $15,000 to $25,000 remaining eligible debt, then you are eligible to receive a oneyear renewal award. If you have $25,001 to $50,000 remaining eligible debt, then you are eligible to receive a two-year renewal award. If you have more than $50,001 remaining eligible debt, then you are eligible for a three-year renewal award. NIFA reserves the right to determine the length of renewal awards based on its budget and funding priorities.
How is the award amount determined for a renewal award?
For a renewal award, VMRLP requires a new loan statement from your servicer be submitted for updating of original application information submitted to determine the renewal eligible amount. VMLRP will review the loan statement submitted to ensure the currently eligible amount is at least $15,000 of DVM education debt. Please visit the VMLRP Renewals webpage for additional information.
Will you be available by email for questions if things come up as we continue the application process?
Yes, we encourage applicants to reach out to us if you have any questions about the application process or the program in general. For Program and application questions please email: VMLRP.Applications@usda.gov. For Loan, Financial, and Award Administration questions please email: VMLRP@usda.gov.
Where is the service log template?
You can find guidance for filling out the service log and links to the templates for Type I and Type II or Type III shortage service on the website https://www.nifa.usda.gov/vmlrp-program-guidance-awardees.
Can you describe the type of service activities we can record on our service log?
The service log should address the Must-Serve species and the required activities stated on the shortage nomination form for your service area. The activities that can be recorded are types of procedures or medical treatments (such as vaccination, deworming, fertility checks, regulatory testing), telehealth consultations, confirming data/data review, or presentations to producer groups, which includes presentation and preparation time. The program allows that for each hour of presentation time you are allotted a maximum of 2 hours of preparation time. The amount of service time recorded is from when you get out of your vehicle on the premises where the veterinary services are provided to when you get back into your vehicle and is not just the time spent on treatments or procedures. Include the time you take to answer questions while at the farm which are related directly to animal health. “Windshield time” is allowed and is defined as the time it takes to travel to and from the premises where the services are provided. A total of 25% of your time commitment can be used for drive time or windshield time. For example, if you are 50% Full Time Equivalent (FTE), you are required to provide 20 hours of service that aligns with your shortage nomination form per week. Of the 20 hours, you can account for up to 25% of that time as windshield time. This equates to 5 hours per week.
What considerations are there for including "on-call time"?
We do not have time set aside for just being on call or being available. We consider time of traveling to the farm, providing services, or providing telehealth over the phone as applicable to service time. We do not allocate FTE for on-call time.
How does a Type III document their drive time?
Travel time is included for work that is regulatory or meets the description of the activities described on the shortage nomination form. You should indicate the nature of your job that requires travel time and document that travel on your service log.
When are the service verification forms required to be submitted?
The service verification process has changed. In the past, these service verification forms were sent to your employers each quarter. Now your employer will receive all of the service verification forms for the entire contract period or for the remainder of your service commitment. A quarterly email reminder will be sent with instructions on when to submit the completed service verification to VMLRP staff.
What is the process of being selected for a programmatic review?
A group of program participants will be randomly selected each quarter from all program participants for a programmatic review. If selected, you will be sent a notification letter requesting documents from your entire service period. Once we receive your documents, we will review a random selection of the quarters submitted. This will require all service logs to be accurate and up to date.
How long after the service period is up can we expect to potentially be audited for our service period? Do we need to continue filling out a service log for the year after our contract ends?
A programmatic review can be requested up to 1 year after your contract ends. You are only obligated to maintain records while you are under contract. After your contract ends, you are required to retain service records for a period of 1 year and provide them to VMLRP staff upon request.
Besides the service log, what other data/documents will we need to have available for review?
Other documents other than the service log are:
- Quarterly proof of loan payments received
- Proof of tax payments made
- Service verification forms
The Must-Serve/May-Serve animals may differ from the area description/services described on the shortage nomination form. Should we include services provided with the description of services in need or strictly adhere to the Must/May-Serve species?
Our main guidance is the nomination form from the State Animal Health Officials (SAHO). We will be looking for services that match the nomination form to count. We do suggest including any food animal species or equine you may have provided services for that are a minor percentage of your service time. During your three-year commitment the animals you serve in an area may change. The VMLRP Program and SAHO’s understand that changes may occur within the shortage nomination area. Including the animals that are not listed on that form gives us an indication that the needs of an area are changing, and it is important for us to know.
Should we include in our service logs the counties that we serve that are not included in our designated shortage area?
No. The nomination form submitted by the SAHO defines which areas are listed as priority needs. You can document the counties identified outside the designated shortage nomination area however that time will not be counted towards your %FTE.
Some of my dairy herds have barns on either side of the county line (cows, heifers, dry cows, calves, etc.). Will this be an issue when it comes to my service hours?
This will not affect your service hours. Record the county of the producer’s headquarters or location that is in your service area jurisdiction. VMLRP cannot give you credit if you record hours in areas that are entirely outside of the service area you are required to serve as listed on the shortage nomination form.
As a Type III awardee, it is my job to attend meetings, attend the annual USAHA meeting all week, and meet with colleagues. Aside from Covid-19, for continuing education (CE), would this time be allowable on my service log?
VMLRP provides a continuing education allowance for licensing which is prorated based on your %FTE. Licensure is not required for all Type III positions. However, if attending events or conferences is part of your position or job requirements as described by the SAHO, you may include those hours in your service log.
Will our service logs need to be signed off by our supervisor?
No, the service logs do not require your supervisor’s signature.
Can you please clarify the difference between an audit and a programmatic review?
VMLRP established the programmatic reviews to support our awardees. Our National Program Leaders assist awardees who are having issues meeting the time and service requirements by assessing types of work efforts that will meet the obligations of the contract. For example, some awardees spend time in the phone consultations with clients and are not aware or do not know how to record that time on the service log. The review process provides guidance for a successful outcome. We work with awardees to support them through the programmatic review. An audit is a regulatory action that we do not use within the VMLRP program service logs.
I am half a year into my renewal award, would a programmatic review include my initial and renewal award time served?
The programmatic review will only include your current contract. The programmatic review will not go back into your previous contracts or service logs.
How much time can you count for a continuing education (CE) event? If you are presenting at a continuing education event can you record the time it takes to prepare for the presentation?
VMLRP allows for a percentage of continuing education (CE) hours to be counted toward service time. The average CE hours required by states to maintain veterinary licensure is 15 hours per year. CE hours are therefore determined with the following calculation: %FTE multiplied by 15 hours. If presenting at a CE event, VMLRP allows for 2 hours for preparation for each 1 hour of presentation to be recorded on your service log. The title or description of the presentation must be included.
For example, if you have a 50% FTE service agreement. 50% FTE x 15 hours (Average CE) = 7.5 continuing education hours allowed per year.
|Based on Average CE Among U.S.
|Total Hours of CE Claimed/Year*
|*Calculation: %FTE multiplied by 15 (average CE) = Total Hours of CE Claimed/Year
Say we have some student loans (for example, the Loan for Disadvantaged Students & Health Professionals) that we have been making minimum payments on during the contract. What do we do if these loans will be paid off before the end of our contract?
Please contact us at VMLRP@usda.gov 30 days before your loan is paid off to speak with our awards administration and our financial staff to work with you on options moving forward.
Food animal work varies season to season in mixed animal practice where I am located. Some weeks I have little food animals/equine work and others it’s all I do. Is the time averaged across the quarter?
Within a quarter we will look at the variation for balance, but ultimately you will need to meet the hours and service requirements for each quarter.
When we record time to the farm, is it round trip time?
Windshield/Drive time is the time it takes to travel from the clinic to the farm or home base (for a mobile clinic), or from one farm to another farm and then back to the clinic or home base.
What happens if a programmatic review reveals that the hours are not being met to fulfill the shortage situation as indicated in nomination form?
We will collaborate with our policy and finance team to determine options, such as prorating payments. Start conversations with VMLRP staff early, e.g., if you see this as an issue at the beginning of a quarter, then contact program staff at the beginning of the quarter. Do not wait to meet with program staff at the end of a quarter if you see the issue arise in the first few weeks. Each awardee situation is unique, and it is best to communicate with our VMLRP Program team as early as possible. Our goal is to work with you to get the issue resolved before it escalates.
Would you include equine as service commitment? Can you define work horses?
Horses are considered farm animals for services that support agricultural activities, for example, service animals in preparation of crops, supporting beef operations, or other farm-related activities.
What percentage of time should go towards must cover species compared to may cover species?
Must-Serve species or other agricultural species are those animals a veterinarian must be prepared, willing, and committed to provide services for to mitigate the shortage situation. The priority and majority of the service time is intended to service the Must-Serve species. For example, if beef is a must cover species and there is no success of obtaining beef clientele within the shortage area, then on the service log you must have demonstrated an effort of obtaining beef clientele such as marketing to beef producers “A, B and C” of veterinary medical services in counties “X, Y and Z”.
May-Serve species or other agricultural species are those animals a veterinarian may provide services for to meet the required percent full time equivalent (FTE). The FTE is the number of working hours that represents one full-time (100% FTE) employee during a fixed time. For the VMLRP, this equates to a 40-hour work week. This recognizes that not all food animal species require the same level of services year-round and a veterinarian may need the flexibility to provide services to other species during the "off season" to meet their percent FTE. When you are unable to fulfill your service obligation with Must-Serve species then it is appropriate to focus on May-Serve species to fulfill the obligation. The VMLRP Program requests justification in your service log if such events were to happen.
What about teaching or working with vet or vet tech students? If they are learning about food animals?
VMLRP encourages participants to work with veterinary technician and veterinary students but ask that you do that within your practice. You cannot set aside hours for special instruction for them but having them present when you are providing service for food animals is highly encouraged. We do not allow service hour credit or extra time for having veterinary technicians or veterinary students, or high school students ride along with you. You will get windshield time for the driving, but it does not count as “extra time” for just having them there with you.
I have field techs that execute my procedures (poultry vaccinations, regulatory swabbing, testing, etc.) under my standing orders and under my license/jurisdiction. This seems like reasonable included time. Is this officially included?
If you are not providing the services yourself, it does not count for your time.
I'm assuming veterinary student interactions, advising, and mentoring can be counted as service hours for Type III if it was in the position description?
Yes, if that is included in the shortage nomination description.
Should I assume that I can log my equine/llama/alpaca work that is marked as other under “may cover” even though the box isn’t checked?
Yes, include all species that are written in the “Other” category even though unmarked.
How do I address restricted work time/farm access due to pandemic restrictions?
Please contact us if you have any issues regarding health restrictions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each situation is unique and is treated on a case-by-case basis. The VMLRP staff will work directly with you to assist in these unique circumstances.
How do we address vacation time off on a service log?
The Program requires that an awardee fulfill their obligation for the number of hours contracted within each quarter. This means that, although an awardee may take leave, and a veterinarian’s employer may provide paid leave, the VMLRP still expects an awardee to fully execute all required hours per quarter.