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Addressing The Shortage Of Veterinarians

FAZD, an acronym for National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense, has just launched a new educational initiative that addresses the shortfall of veterinary paraprofessionals. FAZD is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The new program will help ready school kids to embark on careers in the field of veterinary medicine.

Career Education 

This career education initiative has been named the One Health Career-Oriented Youth Educational National Program. It is hoped that the program will emphasize the study of regulatory aspects and the impact of exotic and zoonotic diseases on public health. By the end of the program, the students will be qualified as veterinary paraprofessionals and as a result, will have improved their prospects for securing related employment after graduation.

The name "One Health" makes reference to a worldwide initiative that hopes to integrate the fields of veterinary and human medicine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a minimum of 60% of known human pathogens can be transmitted between humans and animals. Both the American Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association have endorsed the One Health program.

Veterinary Science

The students will receive 75 lessons relating to both career education and veterinary science. The lessons are divided into three tracks and each track offers 25 lessons. The lessons will touch on many areas including One Health science and technology, clinical sciences, and diagnostic/laboratory research science and technology.

Two Forms

The curriculum will be published in two forms: on the web as an interactive e-learning course and as a handbook. It is hoped that by the fall of 2010, this will become a curriculum that all of the nation's youth can access. The course is called, "Veterinary Science: Preparatory Training for Veterinary Assistants."

Those students who participate in the program will be given the opportunity to apprentice in the field. The students will be allowed to observe professionals and will also work in the field for 120 hours under supervision.

Regarding the shortage of veterinarians in the U.S., AG (Agriculture and Forestry) Commissioner Mike Strain, DVM, says the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture is now accepting applicants who want to enter the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program. This program offers to repay student loans for veterinarians who will work in rural areas where there are shortages of qualified veterinarians. For a three-year commitment, NIFA will cover up to $25,000 of a student's loan debts for each year of service.

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