ample, it is not uncommon for a veterinarian to be responsible for specific research project support, administrative duties, and veterinary medical care responsibilities. Understanding the potential risks (such as disease outbreaks) of a minimal or poorly functioning program is essential to designing a veterinary medical care program that is reasonable and cost-effective.

An assessment of research program needs and regulatory requirements is critical to development of a cost-effective veterinary care program. The assessment should be followed by an effort to design and establish an integrated veterinary medical care program that remains interactive with the research staff and efficient in the delivery of veterinary care while satisfying disparate institutional needs. Making periodic adjustments to the program in an environment of changing research directions and new technologies requires frequent interactions with key personnel in research and administration.


Compensation for professional staff can constitute the greatest operational cost for the veterinary medical care program, and portions of it are often subsidized (Table 23a, Appendix C). Increased numbers of specialty-trained veterinarians are being employed by research institutions as the science and technology of laboratory animal medicine and veterinary medical care advance and their value to research organizations is increasingly recognized. In addition, the growing regulatory burden (NIH 1999) has increased the involvement of specialty-trained veterinarians, particularly laboratory animal veterinarians, in biomedical research institutions. The higher cost of using veterinary specialists has prompted some institutions to look for ways to contain cost through management techniques such as delegation, empowerment, and teamwork to optimize the use of talent. Consultants and part-time employees, both veterinarians and animal care staff, can also be useful in some settings if oversight is adequate to ensure quality and regulatory compliance.

Laboratory animal veterinarians are variously employed by institutions as animal care and use program directors, managers, and clinical veterinarians. Depending on the size and function of the veterinary care program, one or more veterinarians might be needed to satisfy institutional needs. Veterinarians' salaries are higher than those of other veterinary support personnel, so institutions should make use of the veterinarians so as to take full advantage of their professional competences while technical and administrative duties are delegated to lower-paid employees (Gehrke and others 2000). Veterinary residents and certified laboratory animal and veterinary technicians can be used as an effective exten-

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement