Improving the sustainability of rural veterinarians through mentoring, targeted education, telemedicine, and monitoring of disease syndromes
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A veterinary shortage in rural areas is a reality threatening livestock health and ultimately the economy of rural communities. USDA has admirably addressed this problem through the Veterinary Loan Repayment Program, however, changes in traditional veterinary practice are still necessary for the sustainability of rural practice. Veterinarians responding in a Fire Engine manner simply are no longer practicable. Ranchers must realize that veterinarians are able to contribute to producer profits by developing a comprehensive health management program. This proposal focuses on engaging veterinary/vet tech students and early career veterinarians in a disease syndrome surveillance program, which has been shown viable through a pilot project. Utilizing a phone App information will be forwarded to a central data base monitored by artificial intelligence and reviewed by a veterinary epidemiologist. Syndromic surveillance provides current information to veterinarians, livestock producers, and regulatory veterinarians and monitors for transboundary, emerging, and reemerging livestock diseases. This project proposes combining disease surveillance, continuing education, and mentoring of early career veterinarians to enable them to provide comprehensive animal health management programs. This program requires collaboration among those involved in veterinary medicine, animal science, animal behavior, agriculture economics, and ecosystems management. The use of telemedicine within the context of a valid VCPR is essential for the efficient delivery of leading edge veterinary services to rural communities.By creating a network of rural veterinarians linked together through virtual reporting and diagnostic tools, veterinarians in underserved areas will become a member of a larger group experiencing similar issues in production agriculture.