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AVMA Testifies at Senate Hearing on GAO Veterinary Shortage Report
Date:2/26/2009

ill critically important public health, food safety and animal health roles."

Dr. DeHaven told the subcommittee that the federal veterinary shortage has multiple causes. Specifically, he pointed to soaring veterinary student debt, noncompetitive federal salaries, limited ability to increase the number of veterinarians graduating from veterinary schools, and a demographic shift of students away from the rural farm settings that historically produced many food animal veterinarians as reasons for a declining applicant pool.

To address the critical shortage of federal veterinarians, the AVMA has sought legislation to provide increased funding to expand capacity at the nation's 28 veterinary colleges. The AVMA is also working with Congress to change the compensation for federal veterinarians so it is on par with other federal health professionals, and to reduce student debt through loan repayment programs.

The National Veterinary Medical Service Act (NVMSA), which exchanges student loan debt relief for graduates who commit to serving in the field of food supply veterinary medicine, was signed into law by Congress in 2003, but no benefits have been realized due to limitations in funding and delays in implementation.

"Our concerns about NVMSA are echoed in the GAO report, which indicates that officials from the USDA believe the money allocated to the program thus far is insufficient and would have minimal impact on the shortage," Dr. DeHaven said.

With a long history of working with Congress and federal agencies to address the veterinary shortage, the AVMA, according to Dr. DeHaven, remains dedicated to pre-empting challenges to public health. "I am confident that by working together, we can address these challenges, welcome more bright minds into the veterinary profession and provide our citizens the level of food safety and security they deserve and expect," he said.

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SOURCE American Veterinary Medical Association
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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