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Source: Ralph Richardson, 785-532-5660, rcr@k-state.edu
Photos available. Contact media@k-state.edu or 785-532-2535.
News release prepared by: Joe Montgomery, 785-532-4193, jmontgom@vet.k-state.edu

Monday, June 14, 2010

FIVE K-STATERS ARE FIRST GRADUATES OF STATE RURAL VETERINARY PROGRAM

MANHATTAN -- Several rural Kansas communities are getting a new veterinarian this year through a state program created to help ease the shortage of veterinarians who work in rural Kansas.

The 2010 graduating class of Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine included the first five graduates of the Veterinary Training Program for Rural Kansas. The program was passed by the state Legislature in 2006 to provide a financial incentive to bring new veterinarians to rural areas.

Program participants are eligible for up to $20,000 in loans per year to pay for college expenses and advanced training. Upon completion of their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, each student is required to work at a full-time veterinary practice in one of the 91 Kansas counties with fewer than 35,000 residents. For each year the student works in rural Kansas, $20,000 worth of loans will be forgiven by the state. Students can work a maximum of four years through program, receiving up to $80,000 in loan waivers.

"The funding from the Veterinary Training Program for Rural Kansas is going to alleviate some of the pressures off of us to find the high-paying jobs needed to repay our student loans," said Trent Glick, one of the new graduates of the program. "We're able to go to a rural community and maybe take a little less money so we can still pursue our goals."

Glick, who is originally from Pittsburg, has accepted a veterinary job in Oberlin.

Each student in the Veterinary Training Program for Rural Kansas is required to participate in additional activities beyond what is required for their veterinary degrees. The scholars spend their summer breaks learning about foreign-animal disease preparedness, natural disaster preparedness, rural sociology and public health.

"I have been able to see different parts of the United States and see how different levels of agriculture and the livestock industry is utilized. It gave me a greater appreciation for rural America," said Brock Hanel, Courtland.

Hanel is planning to work in his father's practice in Courtland. Lannie Hanel earned his veterinary degree from K-State in 1971.

Jessica Whitehill-Winter, Latham, hasn't accepted a position yet because she is expecting a baby in August. She plans to interview for jobs and then start working after the baby arrives.

"The Veterinary Training Program for Rural Kansas has allowed me to pursue my career as well as my dream of raising my family in a small community like my parents did for me," she said. "I have sent resumes to a 90-mile radius from where my Mom and Dad live. It's great to be able to go back home and have the financial assistance from the program, but it's also very nice to know I'll be serving an area that needs it."

New K-State veterinary graduate Nick Luke plans to work in Beloit, his hometown. He said the advanced training provided by the Veterinary Training Program for Rural Kansas will be very useful.

"This program has brought us in contact with people who have been involved with researching and responding to foreign animal diseases," Luke said. "We've made connections with the people who are going to be running the response programs."

Program graduate Kyle Berning, Lakin, agrees with Luke.

"Going to Iowa our sophomore year and taking part in the regional U.S. Department of Agriculture surveillance testing center was a pretty good experience," Berning said. "Some of the diagnostics and sample taking that we practiced the last four years will definitely come in handy."

Berning has accepted a veterinary position in Scott City.

Ralph Richardson, dean of K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine, said he's extremely pleased to see the Veterinary Training Program of Rural Kansas making an impact in Kansas.

"K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine is dedicated to supporting the livestock industry and we believe veterinarians create a positive influence on communities of all sizes, particular small rural communities," Richardson said. "This year's graduates are going to make an immediate difference in the communities where they will be working. These graduates bring a great skill set to rural areas, especially with what they've learned about foreign-animal diseases and public health. With more Veterinary Training Program for Rural Kansas classes following this one, the future looks bright for rural Kansas."