tial and growing, but the potential contributions of veterinary medicine are not realized because appropriate positions in relevant sectors are lacking.
As the committee examined the question of whether the supply of and the demand for veterinarians were in balance in a given sector, it struggled to rationalize the apparent need for veterinary services with the economics of today’s veterinary marketplace. Personnel shortages occur when well-paid positions are not filled. Such shortages exist, for example, in industry, where employers cannot fill high-paying positions with veterinarians who have advanced training in biochemistry, biochemical mechanisms of diseases, basic pharmacology and toxicology, pathology, laboratory-animal medicine, and regulatory toxicology. These experts are in demand and can command salaries that are well beyond those of professorial ranked faculty. Similarly, veterinary colleges are in need of basic scientists who can leverage extramural research support for programs.
In the committee’s view, opportunities for highly-trained veterinarians in industry and the basic sciences are growing, and the new and vacant positions represent a clear shortage because there are few qualified individuals to fill those jobs. Those shortages can be addressed by equipping future veterinarians with the skills required by these positions and by eliminating barriers to their employment. In contrast, unmet needs occur in settings where well-paying veterinary positions are lacking. That includes situations in which positions exist, but offer salaries too low to attract candidates, as well as instances in which expertise in comparative medicine might be relevant, but positions that explicitly require veterinary expertise do not exist. By expanding appropriately-paid employment opportunities that use different kinds of veterinary skills, including rethinking how veterinary services are provided, society can better capture the benefits of veterinary expertise. For example, in situations where the low density of small farms with marginal resources cannot financially support positions for full-time food-animal (FA) veterinarians, alternatives to conventional veterinary practice, including an expanded use of technicians under the supervision of veterinarians, will be important. In wildlife and ecosystem health, development of thoughtful measures to manage the health of terrestrial and aquatic wildlife, conservation of threatened and endangered species, and control of emerging infectious and toxicological agents could benefit from greater involvement by veterinarians. Veterinarians are not prevented from entering those fields now, but developing sustained funding for veterinary positions will require efforts to promote a wider understanding of the value of veterinary services among public and philanthropic supporters of wildlife and the environment. As noted in Chapter 10, the goal of balancing supply and demand is to match jobs that require particular kinds of skills with persons who have those skills.
Strictly on the basis of financial return on educational investment as an indicator of the market demand for veterinary expertise, there is no substantial profession-wide shortage of veterinarians. Increases in salaries and benefits are smaller than the increases in the cost of a veterinary education for students. Ac-