Kansas State Receives Grant for Rural Veterinarian Training

January 9, 2017
Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN

A grant of nearly $240,000 has been awarded to KSU for training of rural veterinarians in a range of important areas.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded the Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine a $239,656 grant to train rural veterinarians in managing endemic, transboundary, and emerging diseases in production animals. Funds from the grant will be used by a research team at the college to conduct workshops and create online learning opportunities to boost career development educational events for veterinarians in rural settings.

The organized workshops will be held in Manhattan (Kansas), while the online modules will be available to both rural production animal veterinarians and anyone else who might have an interest in the subject. According to the research team, the goal of providing these educational opportunities is to increase awareness regarding the role production animal veterinarians play in making sure the food supply is safe and secure. They also hope to call attention to the protection of animal and environmental resources, as well as the economic viability of production animal agriculture.

In an article featured in the High Plains/Midwest AG Journal, the Kansas State research team emphasized the importance of production animal veterinary care in rural communities. They stressed that veterinarians working with these types of animals are often the first line of defense against emerging, zoonotic, and transboundary animal diseases that could have devastating effects on the production animal economy, including foot-and-mouth disease, classic swine fever, and avian flu.

Unfortunately, many rural areas are often underserved because they don’t have access to local veterinarians. One member of the college’s research team, Juergen Richt, DVM, PhD, noted, “This program will enable researchers to fill a gap in the ability of rural veterinarians to recognize and respond to emerging zoonotic and transboundary animal diseases, which are a constant threat to U.S. agricultural systems.”

Part of the grant funding will also be used to integrate hands-on training opportunities for rural production animal veterinarians. The objective of this training will be to teach these veterinarians how to provide additional services to food animal clients more efficiently. There will also be emphasis placed on expanding the veterinarian’s role as a first responder in the management of low-incidence, high-consequence diseases of production animals. Additionally, the focus will include management of high-incidence, low-consequence diseases because both types of problems are vitally important to the success of rural veterinary practices.