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Student Loan Forgiveness Program Open to Veterinarians
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 02/14/2018

Pennsylvania State Veterinarian Dr. David Wolfgang encouraged eligible veterinarians to consider spending three years practicing in Pennsylvania in exchange for educational loan forgiveness.

"Pennsylvania livestock farmers need access to a veterinarian to ensure the health of their animals and the financial success of their operations," Wolfgang said. "Public practice vets are crucial in ensuring the safety of the state's food supply, particularly in the event of an outbreak of diseases like Avian Influenza, or African Swine Fever, or Hoof and Mouth Disease. We have areas in Pennsylvania where we lack sufficient veterinary coverage, but the harsh reality is that paying off student debt keeps many graduates from working in public or rural practices. Loan forgiveness can be a tremendous tool in addressing our workforce shortage."

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the average educational debt for 2016 veterinary school graduates was $143,757.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has announced the availability of funding to qualified veterinarians who apply to practice in six areas of Pennsylvania that have been identified as having significant shortages of veterinarians.

The six open positions eligible for loan forgiveness are:

- Public practice pathologist specializing in food safety, public health and pathology at Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System labs in Chester or Dauphin counties.

- Public practice pathologist specializing in food safety, public health, and gross pathology of livestock, wildlife and fish at the Pennsylvania Veterinary Laboratory in Dauphin County.

- Public practice as a veterinary medical officer for the state Department of Agriculture. Areas of focus include food safety, public health, epidemiology and disease surveillance. Locations are statewide, but practice is based in a regional office in either Meadville, Crawford County or Tunkhannock, Wyoming County.

- Private practice with at least 30 percent of time devoted to rural area food medicine specialist in beef and dairy cattle; small ruminants; and niche poultry. The practice is in either Elk, Forest, McKean, or Warren County.

- Private practice with at least 30 percent of time devoted to rural area food medicine. Specialist in beef and dairy cattle; small ruminants; and equine or camelids. The practice is in either Clarion, Jefferson, or Venango County.

- Private practice with at least 30 percent of time devoted to rural area food medicine. Specialist in beef and dairy cattle; small ruminants; and niche poultry. The practice is in either Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, or Northumberland County.

Applications, instructions for applying, and details of open positions can be found on the USDA's site. Veterinarians may apply for one opening, so details of the open positions should be reviewed before submitting. Questions may be directed to Dr. Wolfgang at 717-772-2852 or davwolfgan@pa.gov.

Learn about the department's work to safeguard animal health in Pennsylvania at agriculture.pa.gov.

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