“This award is so incredibly valuable to me. It’s very encouraging to know there is interest out there to support food-animal veterinarians and, thus, our farmers and food supply…
We often travel two, three and four counties away to reach
areas where few, if any, large animal vets practice.”
— SHAW PERRIN, DMV, AN INAUGURAL FAVRRP AWARDEE NOW PART OF A SIX-DOCTOR DAIRY PRACTICE IN INDIANA.
HE’S “PAYING IT FORWARD” BY SPEAKING TO 4-H CLUBS AND HOSTING STUDENTS.
patients to come down with respiratory ailments. How can
you tell in a cow? Same way you do in humans: eye and nose
gunk, and a good listen with the stethoscope. It’s crucial to
make sure any antibiotics given are well out of an animal’s
system, per USDA-mandated withholding times, before it’s
Morey, an FAVRRP awardee, works at the mixed-animal
Tallgrass Veterinary Hospital in Concordia, Kan., a long way
from his Connecticut upbringing but in other ways not so far.
He knew by high school that rural veterinary medicine was his
future, but not $200,000 in medical school loans.
“A lot of people don’t go straight through school like I did.
It just kept adding up,” says Morey, who attended Kansas
State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He now lives
the reason for the program.
“We are pretty spread out. There’s me and my boss and
30,000 cows in our county,” says Morey, who met his wife,
a veterinary school student, in 4-H. “I hear our clients say,
since our practice is fairly new, ‘We used to have to do this
“This award is huge. It cuts my debt in half and allows me
to keep working in this area.”
Morey says he has great respect for his patients, whose
optimal health means their death is near. He balances the
stress of being kicked and bitten by some of the others with
his favorite part of the job: delivering calves. “I grew up see-
ing it and fell in love,” Morey says.
He has renewed affection for the organization he joined in
veterinary school, too.
“I have such respect for the AVMF and its donors,” Morey
says. “Along with AVMA, they are the hub of the profession.
They hold everyone together. I hope to play an active role one
day. I hope this money gets me to that point faster.”
As the AVMF’s program came to fruition, so did the once-stalled USDA effort. The programs, which vary in structure,
even selected two of the same candidates (who were not
allowed to double dip). The government program gave awards
to 54 veterinarians in its first year compared with the Foundation’s five, and in two years 132 veterinarians have signed
contracts with the USDA’s program.
So there are questions about the future of the Foundation’s effort. Is this too much money for too little impact? If
the USDA program persists, is there a better use of Foundation and corporate funds?
Those who played a role in constructing the Foundation’s
recruitment and retention program aren’t sure what’s next,
but they have no regrets. They feel both efforts have created
“The problem is big enough that there’s not just one
solution,” says Gina Luke, assistant director of the AVMA’s
government relations division. “We won’t know the long-term
impact [of either program] until we can assess the retention
in these areas, but, regardless, while veterinarians are there
those animals are being serviced — and that’s a success.”
Pfizer Animal Health, one of several corporate donors to
make the program a reality, also is interested in retention.
“When people stay in food-animal or a mixed practice for
five years, they tend not to leave. They’ve made a choice,”
says Roger Saltman, group director for the pharmaceutical giant’s cattle and equine technical services department.
To Learn More
The American Veterinary Medical Association’s website, www.avma.org, is a great repository of information
for veterinarians, and also pet owners. The American
Veterinary Medical Foundation, www.avmf.org, provides
all animal lovers a host of ways to volunteer and support
animals in crisis.