April 14, 2017

FDA and Congress Meetings

By Patricia Crystal

Our meetings at the FDA on Wednesday were really interesting – from understanding the way a drug is approved to the role of the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the FDA, it was an educational day. We met with four veterinarians involved in a variety of actives – from communications to international work.

Thursday was my first congressional meeting – I had the opportunity to meet with a staff member to discuss topics important to the AVMA. It is encouraging that there seems to be support from the congressman for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act and Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act (VMLRPEA).

Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act is important as it seeks to keep interest rates for student loans low, permit refinancing of student loans, require schools to increase financial and loan awareness, along with several other important points. The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program is a program that allows veterinarians to work in underserved areas, as deemed so by the USDA, in exchange for approximately $25,000 each year that goes toward loan repayment. The VMLRPEA seeks to prevent the 39% withholding tax from being taken out of the award amount. If the withholding tax were not in place, it would increase funding awards that could be given directly to qualified veterinarians.

I arrived slightly early for my meeting with a current AVMA fellow that afternoon, so I wandered around the Capitol grounds for a while. It was a beautiful day so I wanted to maximize my time outside. My meeting with the current fellow was insightful, since I’ve only spoke to previous fellows until now. Since Congress is on recess, she had her dog in the office – a rare treat to see a dog in a Senate building!

Last night we attended the One Health Academy’s monthly presentation. Dr. Jack Shere, director of APHIS, gave several updates on disease programs within APHIS. The talk was very informative and the event served as a great networking opportunity as well. I am excited with all the internationally focused contacts I was able to connect with.

I’m excited for the weekend to enjoy the beautiful weather outside!

Capitol Building