LANSING, Mich. — Michigan needs more veterinarians — especially in rural areas and in large animal medicine. These types of practices face a unique challenge as they may lack the ability to compete with salaries offered by clinics in more populous areas, which results in shortages.
To help solve this issue, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture offers programs such as the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) and the Veterinary Services Grant Program (VSGP). These programs serve to financially support veterinarians working on food supply medicine within designated shortage areas, which are updated annually and informed by feedback.
The VMLRP is a loan repayment program designed to help any veterinarian who has qualifying educational loan debt and provides service in a designated high-priority shortage area. The program compensates veterinarians by providing DVM-related loan repayment of up to $25,000 per year for three years. While VMLRP primarily provides compensation for student loans, it also accommodates loans used for educational materials or housing during a veterinarian’s time of study.
The VSGP goes a step further. This competitive grant program provides grants to those within designated shortage areas who want to establish or expand veterinary practices by equipping veterinary offices, sharing in overhead costs, and/or establishing mobile veterinary facilities.
Your Feedback is Needed
To take full advantage of these funding opportunities, it is crucial the designated shortage areas (the foundation of these federal programs) are accurately and appropriately identified.
In total, Michigan can nominate up to six shortage areas. Last year, the shortage areas included:
- Type II Shortages: Public Practice – Rural Area Food Animal Medicine.
- Saginaw and Shiawassee counties
- Allegan, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, and Van Buren counties
- Alger, Chippewa, Delta, Luce, Mackinac, Marquette, and Schoolcraft counties
- Alcona, Iosco, Ogemaw, and Oscoda counties
- Alpena, Montmorency, Otsego, and Presque Isle counties
- Type III Shortage: Public practice.
- State of Michigan
While these shortage areas can be re-nominated, your insights are needed to help refine these designations.
Sharing your insights will be pivotal to strengthening the veterinary profession in Michigan’s rural communities.
Once all feedback has been collected and the shortage areas are finalized, we will share these results with you, so you can apply as well as help to spread the word to others about these federal programs.
— Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development