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Beef Buzz News

Graduating Vets Stifled by School Loans

Mon, 15 Dec 2014 15:49:10 CST

Graduating Vets Stifled by School Loans
A veterinary education is extremely costly, sometimes leaving students with a stack of debt at the end of vet school. Dr. Michael Dicks specialized in ag policy at Oklahoma State University in the Agricultural Economics Department. At the beginning of 2013 he became the director of the Veterinary Economics division of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Dicks said having a lot of student loans can make it very difficult for graduates to start a large animal veterinary practice.

"The market for education is the start of that pipeline and whatever it costs those veterinarians to go to school when they become veterinarians, some how they have to be able to make enough money to pay off that debt," Dicks said. "The average veterinarian getting out of school today has about $130 - thousand dollars in debt. That's the average, but we also have kids that have up to $400-thousand dollars in debt."

Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays featured Dicks on the Beef Buzz feature. Click or tap on the LISTEN BAR below to listen to today's Beef Buzz.

Being a veterinarian isn't as financially lucrative as you might think. Dicks said veterinarians receive on average a salary of $66 - thousand dollars with the low end range at $40 thousand dollars annually and the top end receives about $85 thousand a year. He said this gives veterinarians a debt to income ratio somewhere between two and four and in most cases many would have to borrow money for the first five years in order to be a practicing veterinarian.

One of the problems is that some of the services that were once provided by large animal veterinarians are now being performed by other individuals and that cuts into the revenue stream. Dicks said part of that problem is that at one time there wasn't enough food-animal veterinarians, so somebody else moved in. Now there technicians that do artificial insemination, embryo transfer, preg-checking, ultra-sounding for carcass characteristics, ultrasounding for pregnancy, foot trimming, nutrition, among others. Dicks said a lot of those services the veterinarian doesn't do any more.

Dicks recommends new veterinarians consider expanding their capabilities to offer a wider variety of services to therefore increase their business income. He said in the long-run that benefits the veterinarian, their customers like cattle producers and it allows the veterinarian to pay student loans at a faster rate. There are also several programs that will assist veterinary medicine graduates repay their student loans.

The Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry has established the Large Animal Veterinarian Incentive educational loan repayment program. Up to two recipients will be selected to receive a grant up to $25 thousand dollars annually for a maximum of four years. To be eligible the veterinarian needs to be employed full-time in an Oklahoma community with a population of less than 25 - thousand according to the latest federal census. The application deadline is January 1, 2015. For more information or to apply contact chris.ross@okstate.edu

The US Department of Agriculture has also established the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) for food animal, mixed animal or large animal practitioners. The program through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture will pay up to $25,000 of school loans per year for three years to a practitioner who is practicing in an area that has a shortage of food animal practitioners. This could be an area that does not have a current practitioner, or an area that is currently underserved, but it can also be an area that is currently served, or partially served, by an older practitioner who is planning to retire in the next couple of years. Click here for the listing of designated underserved areas. Nominations must be submitted by January 20, 2015. Click here for more information and how to apply for the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program.

Veterinarians who submitted applications previously are encouraged to re-apply.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.



Ron Hays Beef Buzzes with Dr. Michael Dicks of AVMA
right-click to download mp3


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