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Food Animal Veterinarian Shortage?

June 22, 2011
By: Kim Watson Potts, Beef Today
vet
  
 
 

For the last few years, there's been discussion within the agriculture community about a shortage of food animal veterinarians and finding solutions to help generate interest in the profession. Since then enrollments in many veterinary schools are up, but an American Association of Bovine Practioners' committee report says there actually is not a shortage of food animal veterinarians, but rather an issue of rural economies being able to sustain large animal practices.

Since the first reports on the shortage of food animal veterinarians, the economy has taken a downturn, including serious financial losses in the dairy segment, shrinking herd sizes and agriculture in general continuing to consolidate, explains Christine Navarre, Louisiana State University Extension veterinarian and AABP president. And some graduates are finding it difficult to find jobs.

"With the changing economy, the job market in general is tough," she explains. "This report served as a reality check, and found that there are pockets of under served rural areas but not necessarily a shortage of veterinarians to fill those needs."

The problem is that those under served rural areas are not able to sustain a veterinary practice. She explains it's similar to rural issues with human healthcare, and requires some examination of alternative solutions to serving those communities rather than flooding the food-animal veterinary field with qualified graduates and limited job openings.

To address the issue of providing veterinary care in under served rural areas, the AABP has set up three new subcommittees that will:

  • Identify alternative and sustainable business models in rural areas.
  • Develop tools to help veterinarians hone business skills.
  • Look at the role of veterinary technicians to fill this gap.

 

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RELATED TOPICS: Beef, Dairy, Livestock, Animal Health

 
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COMMENTS (4 Comments)

Bazooka619 - Blacksburg, VA
Nobody every mentions that they might be recruiting the wrong people for vet schools. I don't really buy into the whole economic argument. Sure, vet school is outrageously expensive (as with all college degrees), but they do pretty well comparatively against other rural incomes. Farmers put in long hours and aren't guaranteed big paydays. Its a lifestyle. Some people are built for it and some just aren't. Frankly, the admissions folks are out looking more at GPA's and GRE scores than character and experience. They find kids from suburban lifestyles who may act interested in food animal medicine just to give them an edge
during admissions. It becomes an admissions game, rather than an honest effort to find the right people. The entire admissions process needs to be reconsidered or we will continue to hear the same sob stories about these shortages. Find the kids who have spent time working on farms, who understand humility, long hours, and what it means to earn a dollar.
11:23 PM Feb 4th
 
HokieVet13 - Blacksburg, VA
As a food animal vet to be who will graduate from school in May of 2013 this is a reality I will have to deal with. My plans were to go out to a rural area and become a practitioner, but due to the poor income, long hours, high overhead, and poor benfits it makes one reconsider. Ridethethunder you have some interesting ideas that I have to agree with, but when people are affected becauase the food supply is suffering then maybe something will be done about it. Until then people will continue to think that eggs come from the grocery store.
7:55 AM Jun 23rd
 
HokieVet13 - Blacksburg, VA
As a food animal vet to be who will graduate from school in May of 2013 this is a reality I will have to deal with. My plans were to go out to a rural area and become a practitioner, but due to the poor income, long hours, high overhead, and poor benfits it makes one reconsider. Ridethethunder you have some interesting ideas that I have to agree with, but when people are affected becauase the food supply is suffering then maybe something will be done about it. Until then people will continue to think that eggs come from the grocery store.
7:55 AM Jun 23rd
 
ridethethunder - Richfield, UT
Perhaps the Obama administration should consider subsidizing the rural large animal vets instead of providing services for illegal aliens, foreign students, subsidiies for tobacco farmers, foreign aid to countries like Egypt, Pakistan, & Saudi Arabia. Better yet stop paying welfare to the lazy brats sitting on their backsides watching big screen TVs, carrying IPhones and walking the malls.
11:03 PM Jun 22nd
 



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