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Oklahoma State University faculty members plan to teach veterinarians and veterinary students how to expand services for cattle-raising customers.
From January 21-22, the university is hosting the first of a quarterly series of two-day courses at the Roger J. Panciera Education Center of the College of Veterinary Medicine on the Stillwater campus. The assistant professor Dr. Rosslyn Biggs, who is the college’s director of continuing education and a specialist in beef cattle enlargement, said each class will include 20 vets and 20 vet students.
Dr. Biggs said Oklahoma state faculty members had planned to offer the first courses in 2021 but delayed them to ensure the veterinary college can safely offer face-to-face tuition. Meanwhile, she and her colleagues across the college have conducted surveys of vets, veterinary students, and beef cattle producers to determine what each group needs to ensure that rural veterinary practices thrive and provide the services that cattle owners want or need to become more profitable .
Dr. Biggs said the team plans to release the survey results within the next year. Preliminary results suggest the need for veterinarians in rural Oklahoma may be greater than expected, and she hopes the training program will help recruit and retain veterinarians in the beef cattle practice.
The program is funded by a $ 235,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Oklahoma state officials announced the start of the program in August 2020.
In that announcement, Dr. John Gilliam, Clinical Associate Professor of Food Animal Medicine and Field Service, said the main objective of the program is to increase the number, stability, and longevity of rural veterinary practices serving beef producers across Oklahoma.
Some veterinarians working in rural areas may also receive support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, an AVMA-winning initiative that has helped raise student loans for more than 600 veterinarians for work in areas since 2010 repay what is believed to be a lack of veterinarians in farm, mixed animal, or public practice. In the 2020 federal fiscal year, the program spent approximately $ 7.2 million in support of veterinary services.
The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture identified 221 areas of veterinary shortage in 2021, including seven areas in Oklahoma with a shortage of veterinarians in livestock and public practice.