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Building a Veterinarian Recruitment Toolbox for Rural Texas

Texas A&M AgriLife Research Seeks to Fill Gaps in Veterinary Service

Article by Blair Fannin AgriLife Today

In communities throughout Texas, the veterinarian serves as the cog of livestock and animal care, yet many rural areas are experiencing a historical lack of veterinary service.

A collaborative pilot effort between the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases and the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is underway to enhance recruitment of veterinarians to critically underserved areas of Texas.

The three-year project is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture – National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant.

“What we are trying to do is create a community template of recruiting (options) intended for use by communities that need a veterinarian and want to help attract one to their area,” said Dee Ellis, DVM, Texas A&M AgriLife Research veterinarian and part of the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Entomology

“For example, if a church wants to recruit a preacher, they often offer them a place to live. So, the question we are trying to answer is, ‘What can communities offer to veterinarians as incentives for them to relocate to their town?’”

Community Template Project

Ellis is joined by project co-members Dan Posey, DVM, clinical professor at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences who leads outreach efforts within the school’s Veterinary Education, Research and Outreach initiative in Canyon, and Jennifer Schleining, DVM, Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, ACVS-LA, head of the Department of Large Animal Clinic Sciences at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

“The ultimate goal of this grant is to help communities help themselves and be able to attract, recruit and retain veterinarians,” Schleining said. “In a lot of small communities, the veterinarian is also highly involved in driving the economy and is seen as a leader. So, it’s really an important part of the whole community atmosphere to have a veterinarian located there. We’re thankful to the USDA for recognizing that this is a much larger issue than just training and that they’re giving us the tools to be able to address it from a multifaceted approach.”

The community template project will not replace the supplemental loan repayment programs already in place, Ellis said.

Texas currently has both state and federally funded programs to help repay part of a veterinarian’s student loan debt if they relocate to an underserved area, Ellis said.


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