Source: TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY submitted to
IMPROVING THE SUSTAINABILITY OF RURAL VETERINARIANS THROUGH MENTORING, TARGETED EDUCATION, TELEMEDICINE, AND MONITORING OF DISEASE SYNDROMES
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
NEW
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
1023718
Grant No.
2020-70024-32369
Project No.
TEXN0091
Proposal No.
2020-03973
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
VSGPE
Project Start Date
Sep 1, 2020
Project End Date
Aug 31, 2023
Grant Year
2020
Project Director
Hairgrove, T.
Recipient Organization
TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY
750 AGRONOMY RD STE 2701
COLLEGE STATION,TX 77843-0001
Performing Department
Animal Science
Non Technical Summary
A veterinary shortage in rural areas is a reality threatening livestock health and ultimately the economy of rural communities. USDA has admirably addressed this problem through the Veterinary Loan Repayment Program, however, changes in traditional veterinary practice are still necessary for the sustainability of rural practice. Veterinarians responding in a Fire Engine manner simply are no longer practicable. Ranchers must realize that veterinarians are able to contribute to producer profits by developing a comprehensive health management program. This proposal focuses on engaging veterinary/vet tech students and early career veterinarians in a disease syndrome surveillance program, which has been shown viable through a pilot project. Utilizing a phone App information will be forwarded to a central data base monitored by artificial intelligence and reviewed by a veterinary epidemiologist. Syndromic surveillance provides current information to veterinarians, livestock producers, and regulatory veterinarians and monitors for transboundary, emerging, and reemerging livestock diseases. This project proposes combining disease surveillance, continuing education, and mentoring of early career veterinarians to enable them to provide comprehensive animal health management programs. This program requires collaboration among those involved in veterinary medicine, animal science, animal behavior, agriculture economics, and ecosystems management. The use of telemedicine within the context of a valid VCPR is essential for the efficient delivery of leading edge veterinary services to rural communities.By creating a network of rural veterinarians linked together through virtual reporting and diagnostic tools, veterinarians in underserved areas will become a member of a larger group experiencing similar issues in production agriculture.
Animal Health Component
0%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
(N/A)
Applied
(N/A)
Developmental
(N/A)
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
0013810117010%
0013310117070%
0013410117010%
0013610117010%
Goals / Objectives
To create a network of rural practitioners linked together through virtual reporting and diagnostic tools so that veterinarians in underserved areas feel more engaged and part of a larger group experiencing similar issues in production agriculture.To provide a sufficient supply of food animal veterinarians to serve livestock producers in underserved areas. Producers, once educated, will request more intensive health programs for livestock, which will be designed with major assistance from rural veterinary practitioners. Rural practitioners will be supported by Extension and research activities of the Texas A&M System and New Mexico State University.To provide quality continuing education in production medicine and participation in real-time disease surveillance, thereby providing practitioners, students, and veterinary technicians with an increased awareness of state and regional livestock disease issues.To improve communication and cooperation between the livestock industry and the veterinary profession to ultimately improve livestock health and economic sustainability for rural communities.To provide biannual continuing education that focuses on the needs of rural practitioners and livestock producers. We will provide the registration fees for veterinarians and faculty to attend the annual Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course and the Texas A&M International Beef Academy.To shift rural practitioners' focus from fire-engine to comprehensive herd health practices to mitigate metabolic diseases, overstocking, and respiratory and reproductive diseases.
Project Methods
To achieve the objectives of this proposal the following methods will be used:a. Stakeholder InvolvementExtension is intimately involved with livestock producers. Producer needs are assessed through one-on-one communications, county livestock committees, post-program surveys at Extension programs (including the Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course, which targets 2,000 attendees), statewide mail out surveys, and Extension's involvement in livestock organizations such as Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers and Independent Cattlemen's Association of Texas. Findings of a 2019 Texas A&M AgriLife study for development of a 10-year ranching roadmap for increasing sustainability and resiliency of ranching involved cognitive interviews with producers in all regions of the state. This grant is being submitted directly in response to stakeholder concerns about the shortage of rural veterinarians.The veterinary community, including private practitioners and the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), provided valuable input in the planning and evaluation of this proposal. One CVM faculty serves as a Co-PI, and others are collaborating.The veterinary technology program at Texas A&M Kingsville, based on their ongoing role of supporting rural veterinary practices, provided input on the perspectives of technician training and implementation.b. Coordination with Other Qualified EntitiesCoordination with animal health regulatory agencies in Texas and New Mexico is paramount to the success of this program. Each state veterinarian designates veterinary shortage areas in respective states. State regulatory veterinarians will have access to the disease surveillance database, giving them a better overview of disease patterns across their respective state. State veterinarians in Texas and New Mexico have agreed to collaborate on the project.Coordination with livestock organizations--such as Independent Cattlemen's Association of Texas, Texas Farm Bureau, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, and the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association--are essential. Some of these organizations have local chapters with numerous educational activities during the year.Coordination with Natural Resources Conservation Service and input from their county committees will focus on stewardship of the land, thereby contributing to more sustainable animal agriculture.c. Proposed Project ActivitiesDeveloping the mobile application for disease reporting. The Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Lifesciences' IT department will develop a mobile application for both iOS and Android devices to be used by veterinarians to enter their syndromic surveillance responses. The mobile application will interface with a web service that will save the responses to a Microsoft SQL database. We will also develop a web application that will allow veterinarians and researchers to view and print case logs built from the data saved in the database. The web service, web application, and database will be hosted on Division IT servers. Everything will be designed with security, accessibility, and usability in mind throughout the development process.Testing the design and application of artificial intelligence (AI) models to analyze incoming data. The importance of mathematical epidemiological models simulating animal infectious diseases has gained traction in the United States and Europe in the last decade, leading to the development of advanced platforms to provide solutions to minimize the life-threatening menace of infectious diseases to animals and humans. The quickest and most prominent step in developing an intelligent epidemiological model is likely through a hybrid knowledge- and data-driven modeling approach. Therefore, one goal of our proposal is to analyze the survey data to find methods to promote the development and/or improvement of an epidemiological decision support system using AI approaches, such as machine learning.Enrolling early-career veterinarians practicing in designated underserved areas. Respective state veterinarians are involved in the designation of underserved areas and will assist in recruitment for participation in the project. All veterinarians engaged in rural practice are encouraged to participate.Enrolling veterinary students and veterinary tech students to enter data into the disease surveillance app. Information entered into the app can be used to formulate case logs.Promoting continuing education that will include practitioners and livestock producers and will emphasize a team approach to developing comprehensive herd health plans. Educational programs will stress the benefits of telemedicine as an efficient adjunct to total herd health management within the VCPR.Developing new graduate mentorship, offering peer-to-peer communication in a chatroom format, and assisting with diagnostic decision-making, all of which are essential to the success of early-career veterinarians in rural practice.d. Techniques to Be Employed in ProjectThe employment of real-time disease monitoring is central to this project. For example, the livestock industry has labeled bovine trichomoniasis and bovine viral diarrhea as having a negative impact on livestock health, and many states have developed programs to control those diseases. Continuous monitoring of disease syndromes can provide information concerning the prevalence, distribution, and economic impact of livestock diseases, which is useful for developing and maintaining disease control programs. Monitoring submissions through AI is a novel approach that will provide a faster and less subjective approach to data analysis, thus allowing epidemiologists to deliver reports in a timely manner.Veterinary practitioners involved with the New Mexico Ag/Livestock Incident Response Team will be recruited to participate as reporting veterinarians in New Mexico. These veterinarians were involved in the Syndromic Surveillance Proof of Concept Project, under the direction of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and NM Cooperative Extension Service, which was completed previously.The concept of utilizing telemedicine will allow more efficient delivery of animal health services. Telemedicine used in the context of a valid VCPR will allow more comprehensive management of rural animal health issues, thereby lessening travel time.Early-career veterinarians will benefit from mentorship provided by experienced large animal practitioners.Allowing veterinary students and veterinary technician students to participate in disease syndrome reporting during clinical rotations and while on externships will allow them to maintain case logs in standard format and hopefully see the advantage of disease reporting.e. Plans to Communicate Results to Stakeholders and the PublicThe Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course, with an attendance in excess of 2,000 producers, is a perfect venue to broadly disseminate this information. Other venues include articles in popular press and posted on Texas A&M AgriLife Extension websites and social media. Results will be used in county and regional Extension face-to-face programming.

Progress 09/01/20 to 08/31/21

Outputs
Target Audience:Target audiences include rural veterinarians and livestock producers who attended a seven-hour continuing educational program focusing on bull fertility was held in College Station on July 31, 2021. Drs. Chance Armstrong (LSU) and Jennifer Koziol (Texas Tech), authors of the second edition of the Society of Theriogenology Manual for Breeding Soundness Examination of Bulls, led a hands-on demonstration of breeding soundness examinations on more popular breeds of bulls to include Brahma, Brangus, Red Angus, and Charolais. There were also presentations on the effects of nutrition on bull fertility and an overview of surgical procedures such as penile and preputial issues. The IT department of Texas A&M Agriculture and Life Science(COALS) developed an APP for disease surveillance (syndromic surveillance) that is currently employed in three states, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. All data is sent to a server created by COALS. A post-Doc DVM/Ph.D. in the Animal Science Department is applying artificial intelligence to monitor the server. In addition, an epidemiologist from the TAMU College of Veterinary Medicine working with the post-doc provides timely reports to veterinarians and state regulatory officials concerning the spatial and temporal distribution of disease syndromes. Two Extension faculty from the Department of Agricultural economics have joined our team. Dr. Rebbeka Dudinsing has expertise in rural economic development and Francisco Abello in Standard Performance Analysis (SPA) of ranching operations. These specialists will be invaluable in accessing rural veterinarians' contribution to the local economies. Producers in south Texas have expressed an interest in applying telemedicine in ranching operations. As a result, a continuing education program is scheduled in Webb County for January 15, 2022, to discuss concerns specific to south Texas ranching communities. Changes/Problems:There are no significant changes. Although Covid 19 has restricted travel and in-person meetings to some degree this first year, in 2022, there will be more opportunities for travel and in-person discussion. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?Target audiences include rural veterinarians and livestock producers who attended a seven-hour continuing educational program focusing on bull fertility was held in College Station on July 31, 2021. Drs. Chance Armstrong (LSU) and Jennifer Koziol (Texas Tech), authors of the second edition of the Society of Theriogenology Manual for Breeding Soundness Examination of Bulls, led a hands-on demonstration of breeding soundness examinations on more popular breeds of bulls to include Brahma, Brangus, Red Angus, and Charolais. There were also presentations on the effects of nutrition on bull fertility and an overview of surgical procedures such as penile and preputial issues. Veterinarians were allowed to attend nine hours of approved Veterinary CE at the Beef Cattle Shortcourse at a reduced rate. Producers were also encouraged to participate in these meetings. Topics centered on production medicine, such as internal parasite resistance to anthelmintics, control of reproductive diseases, diagnosis of infertility in cattle, and the effects of nutrition on reproduction. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Nothing Reported What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?Continue to implement the various components of this grant and began to measure economic impact

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? Producers in south Texas have expressed an interest in applying telemedicine in ranching operations. As a result, a continuing education program is scheduled in Webb County for January 15, 2022, to discuss concerns specific to south Texas ranching communities. Rural practitioners are identified and have participated in CE meetings focusing on producers' needs. We need to identify more rural veterinarians for participation in this project. An app and server developed by TAMU COALS IT for syndromic surveillance has been developed and is in use, and modifications and updates are being added as needed. A post-doc is applying Artificial Intelligence modeling concepts for the information collected and on the server. Rural practitioners are networking through ZOOM to discuss cases that may impact other areas of the participating states. Improving communication cooperation between the livestock industry and veterinarians is accomplished through Extension programming to include the Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course.

Publications