SCHAUMBURG, Ill., Oct. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In an effort to help U.S. veterinary students cope with rising school debt while reinforcing the importance of building a diverse profession and addressing a shortage of food animal veterinarians, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) and Pfizer Animal Health are introducing a new, annual scholarship program that will award up to $2 million through 2012.
The Pfizer Animal Health Veterinary Student Scholarship Program will be administered by the AVMF and funded by Pfizer Animal Health. It will award $2,500 scholarships to more than 225 veterinary students per year in U.S. veterinary schools accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Applications for the spring 2010 scholarships, available at www.avmf.org, are due by November 13, 2009.
"The American Veterinary Medical Foundation is very pleased to be partnering with Pfizer Animal Health on this exciting new scholarship program which will provide significant impact across the country for veterinary students," explained Michael Cathey, executive director of the AVMF. "Thanks to the generosity of Pfizer Animal Health, this new scholarship program is a tremendous leap forward in not only addressing the rising veterinary student debt but also in addressing diversity and workforce shortages in food animal veterinary medicine."
"Beyond the serious challenge of rising veterinary student debt, Pfizer Animal Health also sees a troubling record of insufficient diversity within the profession, as well as fewer practicing or skilled food animal veterinarians in rural America," said Clint Lewis, president of U.S. Operations, Pfizer Animal Health. "We want to not only help shape the future of our veterinary profession, while ensuring that livestock producers, wherever they are in the U.S., may access medicines and health care services for their herds."
Although the program is open to all 2nd and 3rd year veterinary students, at least 40 percent of the awardees will be students likely to enter food animal medicine or rural practice. Furthermore, approximately 30 percent of scholarship recipients will be from diverse backgrounds, according to age, gender, physical disability and ethnicity, among other characteristics.
These new scholarships have been warmly embraced by the educational community.
"Most, if not all, American veterinary schools are currently trying to answer the questions of how to encourage more young veterinary students to go into rural and large animal medicine, and this new scholarship program seems like a very direct and expedient way of answering that question," explains Dr. Chris Ross, associate dean for academic affairs at Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine. "Furthermore, diversity is a problem for all educational establishments, so direct measures, like these scholarships, are a great idea."
AVMA President, Dr. Larry R. Corry agrees. "It has been said that, 'Every animal needs a strong foundation.' This is equally true for the veterinarians who care for them. This program will provide a strong foundation to veterinarians by assisting them in graduating with less debt, provide more opportunities to practice in rural areas and enrich the diversity of the profession as a whole," Dr. Corry said.
For more information or an application, please visit www.avmf.org.
American Veterinary Medical Foundation is the charitable arm of the AVMA. For over 40 years, AVMF has been dedicated to protecting and advancing the well being and medical care of animals. Charitable contributions and support to the Foundation (AVMF), help veterinarians help animals. Funding priorities include state emergency preparedness, disaster planning, animal health studies and veterinary student scholarships. In the last decade, AVMF has awarded grants totaling over $7,500,000. For more information visit, www.avmf.org.
The AVMA and its more than 78,000 member veterinarians are engaged in a wide variety of activities dedicated to advancing the science and art of animal, human and public health. Visit the AVMA Web site at www.avma.org for more information.
Pfizer Animal Health, one of six business units of Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE), is a world leader in discovering and developing innovative animal prescription medicines and vaccines, investing an estimated $300 million annually. For more information on how Pfizer works to ensure a safe, sustainable global food supply with healthy livestock, or how Pfizer helps companion animals and horses to live longer, healthier lives, visit www.PfizerAH.com.