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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Veterinary Shortage

Believe it or not, here in the US there is a shortage of veterinarians.  More specifically there is a shortage of vets entering large animal (livestock) medicine and public health medicine.  This concern is frequently mentioned in industry journals and articles, and has become a real issue here.  Fewer and fewer graduating vets are choosing to enter these fields of medicine, so as older practitioners retire there are less waiting to replace them. 

In some parts of the country there is only one vet per 100,000 or more cattle.  About 75% of newly graduated vets pursue a career in small animal medicine.  I believe that this problem is related to the changing demographics of where people live.  A century ago most people were from rural communities, growing up on or around farms.  Nowadays the population is predominantly suburban or urban, like myself.  I never had any exposure to or experience with farm animals until I was actually in veterinary school, and never considered going in this direction with my job.  Since I had grown up around families and pets, I wanted to work with these animals and situations.  This is common of most new vets and not many have farm experience.

The reason this shortage is a problem is that our food supplies are from animals, which require proper veterinary care.  Without vets skilled in these areas of medicine the animals may suffer, be sick, or otherwise not be fit for consumption.  The shortage actually puts public health and food supplies at risk.  It's actually reached the point where the US Department of Agriculture is introducing legislation to give special grants to encourage people to pursue careers in the areas of shortages and change how veterinary schools select candidates.

So if anyone wants a job in veterinary medicine in the US and you want to work with farm animals, your career is virtually guaranteed! 

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