Examples of Federal Recruitment and Training

The primary requirement for the majority of federal positions is a DVM, but federal agencies are finding it difficult to hire new graduates who have basic training in public health that is required of these entry level government jobs or who have an interest in work in public practice. The committee’s assessment that multiple factors contribute to this situation, including a lack of awareness about public practice and few mentors in the field, the movement of curriculum away from the public practice sciences, and students’ need to pursue higher-paying jobs to service education debt. Although the salary levels in the federal government are lower for entry level jobs relative to the private practice sector, there are incentives that can be offered to candidates. Appendix E contains a list of recruitment tools that were identified for that purpose by USDA and the Office of Management and Budget. Given the number of women entering veterinary school, additional incentives to consider are those that could increase the recruitment and retention of women, such as policies that accommodate family formation, parental leave, and childcare (Williams and Ceci, 2012).

With the recent economic crisis and the attention that GAO brought to the status of the federal veterinary workforce, a steady improvement in the recruitment and retention offers has occurred, resulting in fewer vacancies in key federal departments, especially the FSIS. Some agencies have active programs to attract veterinary students. For example, FSIS established a program in 2001 that employs veterinary students for 6 weeks in the summer. The students are paid to work with a VMO in meat and poultry plants as well as in other parts of the agency, learning about food safety and animal welfare regulations (FSIS, 2010).

An FDA Veterinary Clerkship Program provides fourth-year veterinary students with work experience at the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, which approves new animal drugs, evaluates claims of new drugs, sets policies for the use of antibiotics in medicated animal feeds and conducts a number of other regulatory activities. Students participate in the program on a volunteer basis (FDA, 2010).

Several of the agencies told GAO that the positions for which they hire veterinarians require advanced training in laboratory animal medicine and pathology. As this is the same kind of expertise in demand by private industry, some agencies have recognized that if they want candidates with the advanced skills, they will need to provide support for that training. Two such programs are described below.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Support for Laboratory Animal Medicine

In 2008, CDC started a two-year residency program (Laboratory Animal Medicine Residency Program) designed to address a shortage of veterinarians



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