• Analyzed appropriate federa11egis1ation and identified activities mandated or caused by that legislation related to the functional responsibilities and specialty disciplines of veterinarians.

  • Estimated the future needs for veterinary specialists in major organizational settings.

  • Projected the number of new veterinarians that will be produced during the next decade and the total population of veterinarians available for service during the same period.

Analysis of functional responsibilities of veterinarians revealed that their activities are usually multifaceted and have impacts of benefit to both animal and human health. The Committee defined 10 functional responsibilities: administration, animal health care, animal welfare, biomedical research, economic productivity of animal-related industries, environmental health protection, food production and protection, health education, mental and emotional health (as related to companion-animal care), and prevention of zoonoses.

The skills and expertise of veterinary medicine were found to be delivered to users through a variety of organizational settings, including private practice, institutional practice, preventive medicine, teaching and research, and industrial and international veterinary medicine.

Major findings of this report are threefold: the current numbers of veterinarians contributing to non-private-practice endeavors have been documented; the deficiencies in the existing data base concerning the activities of such veterinarians have been identified; and the total number of veterinary specialists has been determined to be small, with just over 2,000 board-certified specialists among the 8,760 non-private-practice veterinarians in 1981.

Despite the fact that the percentage of veterinarians not in private practice has decreased over the last decade, the Committee recognizes that veterinarians, by virtue of their expertise and skills, will continue to fulfill important societal needs in teaching, research, and administration. The Committee believes that the use of veterinarians by the non-private-practice sector has been limited by two factors: the economic incentives of private practice have outweighed those of alternative endeavors, thus holding down the supply of veterinarians for nonprivate practice; and some health professionals including veterinarians in decision-making positions, fail to adequately recognize that veterinarians can bring valuable skills and expertise to biomedical problem-solving and administration not associated with primary patient care.

The Committee believes that the use of veterinarians’ biomedical expertise by government agencies should be expanded. We also believe that the use of veterinarians for tasks that can be performed by other trained persons should be decreased. Agency heads should be made aware of the skills,

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