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Friday, September 24, 2010

Wanted: Large Animal Vets

I've mentioned before how here in the US there are fewer and fewer large animal veterinarians in practice.  It's becoming a real crisis in some areas, with farmers and other rural people not having easy access to a veterinarian. Personally I believe that this is due to a shift in the demographics of veterinary students reflecting a shift in our general population demographics.  There are fewer people growing up in rural settings and a greatly increasing number growing up in suburban or urban areas.  It has reached the point where the US Congress is stepping in to address the issue.

Last week the Veterinary Services Investment Act cleared the House of Representatives.  The act establishes a grant program through the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to encourage people to serve in underserved areas.  The chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Collin Peterson said, "Rural areas are facing a critical and growing shortage of large animal veterinarians. These veterinarians are the first lines of defense against animal disease and a crucial player in ensuring the safety of our food. This bill will encourage veterinarians to serve these areas where their skills are needed."

I'm not sure how successful this program will be, as some people are simply not going to be interested no matter what the incentive.  But if it helps in some way, then I can be in favor of the program.  Large animal vets do serve an essential role in our food production, so we need a way to move more people into this part of the profession.  And for anyone who has even a passing interest in this field, it's encouraging news in our current economy because these vets can easily find work.