Creative Solutions to Share, Inspire & Provide Connections
The vet shortage is being felt by every state in the nation. The ultimate goal of graduating more veterinary students will take years. In the meantime, there are creative short-term solutions to increase spay/neuter capacity. From training and education to emulating model programs, we can ensure we are utilizing every possible resource. Student Loan Forgiveness is another tool that can benefit veterinarians who choose careers in the nonprofit or government sectors.
Scroll to the bottom of this page to view the full presentation from the Veterinary Shortage Task Force, as presented during the United Spay Alliance Online Conference in February 2022.
If your organization has pertinent information the United Spay Alliance should add to this page, let us know by emailing info@UnitedSpayAlliance.org.
Model Programs to Emulate
OKLAHOMA SPAY FIRST! offers several models to increase spay/neuter capacity, reach low-population areas, and engage communities, including private-practice veterinarians. Check out these models and click through to learn more.
1. RURAL AREA VETERINARY SERVICES (RAVS)
For more than two decades, the Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS) program has worked to expand access to veterinary care in underserved rural communities where poverty and geographic isolation make regular animal health services unavailable.
RAVS’ veterinary teams have treated more than 135,000 animals, providing a range of services valued at more than $26 million – all at no cost to the clients or communities we serve. In addition, our field training programs have provided life-changing service-learning opportunities for more than 8,200 veterinary and veterinary technician students and professionals.
The RAVS program expands access to animal health resources via three interconnected approaches:
- Direct care veterinary services provide immediate response to relieve suffering and promote animal and community health.
- Clinical training and mentorship for veterinary professionals and students to increase awareness of the issues, provide relevant clinical experience and empower individuals to help shape effective solutions.
- Community development support and project facilitation builds local capacity for community-based animal care resources and sustainable service programs.
Check the Clinic Schedule to learn more about field surgery and medicine teaching clinics with opportunities for volunteers of all experience levels.
Private Practice Partnerships are a collaboration between a private-practice veterinarians and a shelter or well-established nonprofit organization to make low-cost services possible without opening a new clinic or mobile unit. Using a private clinic on days in which they are otherwise closed – or blocking out a few hours each week – enables the both the clinic and the program to thrive.
Essentially, the private practice becomes a high-volume, reduced-cost clinic for families who are not their regular clients. This model occurs for a set period of time that does not overlap with regular business hours.
This program is ideal for areas where non-profit alternatives do not exist, and a local vet office has adequate time to add spay/neuter surgeries. Not only does this program increase spay/neuter capacity, but it also adds a revenue stream for the private veterinary practice.
M*A*S*H (mobile animal surgical hospital) clinics are ideal in areas that lack vet capacity and are too remote for transporting animals to a clinic. M*A*S*H refers to clinics in which equipment is brought to a public building, such as a gymnasium.
Two separate groups of people work together to make a M*A*S*H clinic successful: 1) A local rescue group or shelter serves as the host and is responsible for outreach, advertising, finding the location, supplying volunteers for check-in, and cleaning and recovery; 2) The visiting M*A*S*H team provides the actual veterinary equipment, supplies, and services.
Learn more about M*A*S*H programs, including organizing, budgeting, and locating suitable space. You’ll find plenty of downloads and helpful information to get you started and to ensure your clinics are successful.
Mini Clinics are another option. A Mini Clinic is a part-time stationary spay/neuter clinic, where equipment remains on site. This model relies on low-cost or donated space, veterinary staff that are available on a per diem basis, and a limited amount of volunteer support. The number of operating days depends solely on the level of demand.
This model is financially self-sustaining at low numbers and has the flexibility to ramp up to meet growing demand, it is an ideal model for serving low population areas. Mini clinics are designed for low to moderate-income working households where cost is the single greatest barrier to responsible pet ownership. For minimum wage households, spay/neuter must remain under $50 per pet.
Off Board Recovery Mobile Units: An “off board” recovery mobile spay/neuter unit is a great resource for bringing high volume spay neuter services to the areas of our nation that need it most. This program offers the convenience of a mobile unit and the flexibility of a M*A*S*H model.
The off-board recovery mobile unit enables the service provider to increase the number of surgeries based on the capacity of the veterinarian instead of the space restrictions for animal containment cages. This model is ideal for locations which are served through monthly clinics of 35 to 50 surgeries per day. Clinics can be extended for any number of days based on need.
Learn more and get in touch with Spay FIRST! for additional information.
Tribal Programs: Free-roaming dogs are an integral part of Native American culture and history. However, their large numbers have ballooned and pose a danger to people in the community. In any place with free roaming animals, high-volume spay/neuter is the foundation of humane population control. Spay FIRST! highlights six types of spay/neuter programs to serve Tribal Lands, including high volume, teaching programs, vacation programs, and faith-based services.
2. ASPCA SPAY/NEUTER ALLIANCE
The ASPCA Spay/Neuter Alliance in Asheville, North Carolina hosts a number of onsite training and externship opportunities, in addition to providing virtual training/consulting options, and open access to resources for any organization that provides high quality, high volume spay/neuter.
This comprehensive reference provides veterinarians with everything they need to know about performing surgeries such as spaying and neutering in busy animal shelters. It includes surgical and anesthetic techniques, perioperative procedures, reproductive medicine, and program management regarding dogs, cats, rabbits, and other small mammals.
At Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine, students are required to view training videos prior to their two-week rotation. Videos help prepare students for hand-on learning. Videos cover these topics: Critical Techniques, Full Surgeries, Helpful Techniques, Other Surgeries, and Handties (both right and left-handed.) You’ll also find PowerPoint information on Efficient Spay/Neuter Procedures for animal shelters.
Student Loan Forgiveness
Encouraging Government & Nonprofit Careers
Recruiting veterinarians can be its own full-time job. Large corporations employee professional recruiters and offer substantial signing bonuses. It can be difficult to compete in such a climate, but Student Loan Forgiveness can be just the tool you need to attract and retain veterinarians.
One significant advantage to working for a nonprofit or government organization is that such employment qualifies for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. This program forgives the remaining debt on eligible loans for borrowers who have worked at least 10 years in public service or the nonprofit sector. This report outlines the various programs and what qualifies for the PSLF.
The really good news is that the forgiven amount is not considered taxable income according to the Internal Revenue Service. Veterinarians who qualify for this program effectively get a pay bump by having their loans forgiven. For example, say an eligible veterinarian owes $200,000 after paying back their loans for ten years. When that amount is forgiven, it essentially constitutes an additional $20,000 per year pay boost for each of those ten years, since they will no longer have to pay that $200,000 back.
Check out the Veterinary Student Loan Forgiveness Report to learn more. This concise report is full of pertinent information and links to help navigate the program.
What else can you do to attract and retain veterinarians? An article by Today’s Veterinary Business, lists nine of the methods corporate groups utilize to effectively recruit veterinarians.
What else can you do to attract and retain veterinarians? An article entitled, How the Big Dogs Recruit, by Today’s Veterinary Business, lists nine of the methods corporate groups utilize to effectively recruit veterinarians.
New Program in Ohio
Ohio recently created the Veterinary Student Debt Assistance Program to help veterinarians pay student loans. House Bill 67 is the first of its kind the country, rechanneling unused veterinary license fee revenue back to veterinarians to help address the growing veterinary student debt burden.
Not only does this program help Ohio veterinarians, but it also serves as a model for advocates working in other states.