Veterinarians Step up to Nation’s Public Health Needs
Note from Dean Bennie Osburn: The announcement below concerns the Veterinary Workforce Expansion Act (VWEA). This bill was introduced approximately one year ago by Senator Wayne Allard of Colorado (S-914), and a companion bill (H.R. 2206) was introduced into the House of Representatives by Representative Chip Pickering of Mississippi. The bill is in the Senate Agricultural Committee as part of the Agroterrorism initiative and is to become part of the larger bioterrorism bill. The VWEA bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in early May. If it passes here it will be one of the bills in Congress most likely to become law.
In order to assure this passage, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges organized legislative visits for the 28 veterinary colleges to encourage their Congressional representatives to sign on as co-sponsors and/or vote in favor of the bill when it hits the floor. We were very encouraged by the members' interest in either co-sponsoring or voting in favor of the bill once it comes up for vote.
What will the Veterinary Workforce Expansion Act do for veterinary medicine? Provide $1.5 billion over ten years for:
- new facilities to support expanded enrollments for veterinary public practice
- funding for new equipment for biomedical research
- funding for consortial centers for training the veterinary workforce
Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
March 14, 2006
WASHINGTON, DC—Coming on the heels of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges’ (AAVMC) annual meeting, the deans and department chairs of our nation’s colleges of veterinary medicine and departments of comparative medicine today made more than 120 visits to representatives and senators on Capitol Hill. The deans and chairs advocated for the Veterinary Workforce Expansion Act (S.914/H.R.2206), a bill to significantly increase the number of veterinarians serving the country in the areas of public health, public practice, and bioterrorism prevention. According to Dr. Lance Perryman, President of the AAVMC and Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University, "The unified support that the veterinary profession has for this legislation is demonstrated by the fact that today’s visits by the leaders of our nation’s veterinary colleges is the largest one-day visit by veterinarians on Capitol Hill."
The Veterinary Workforce Expansion Act creates a competitive grants program to increase the number of veterinarians to meet the demands of public health service. These grants will expand capacity and services at existing veterinary medical colleges including increased teaching laboratories, research facilities, and classrooms. This would be the first time in more than 30 years that the federal government has provided resources to increase the number of veterinarians serving the nation in these critical societal roles.
"Veterinary medicine touches the lives of every citizen of this country. Veterinarians are serving 24 hours a day to protect our food supply, looking out for foreign animal diseases, and developing and implementing plans for bioterrorism prevention and response", said Senator Wayne Allard (CO-R) the sponsor of the Senate bill.
The 28 U.S. colleges of veterinary medicine graduate only 2,500 veterinarians each year and are at full capacity. There is a critical need for more veterinarians to provide services in the following public health areas: Food safety and animal disease control biosecurity and homeland security, research on domestic and foreign animal diseases, public health service, animal diseases affecting humans, rural communities and urban centers without veterinary services, wildlife disease control animal care and welfare, and laboratory animal care and research.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Research Council of the National Academies, the USDA, the Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Institute of Laboratory Animal Research, and the American Pet Products Manufacturers’ Association have identified a current shortage of 1500 veterinarians in these areas. With today’s shortage, plus the projected need over the next 20 years, there will be a shortage of 15,000 veterinarians. The passage of the Veterinary Workforce Expansion Act will mitigate the current and future shortages of veterinarians in public health areas.
The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges coordinates the national and international affairs of all veterinary medical colleges in the United States and Canada. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for people and animals by advancing veterinary medical education, improving animal health and welfare, strengthening biomedical research, promoting food safety and security, and enhancing environmental quality.
For more information concerning the Veterinary Workforce Expansion Act, contact Brian T. Smith, Legislative Assistant, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, firstname.lastname@example.org
Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
1101 Vermont Avenue NW, Suite 301, Washington, DC 20005-3536
Phone: 202-371-9195 Fax: 202-842-0773 www.aavmc.org