The effective and efficient use of veterinary technicians is of paramount importance if the future needs for companion-animal veterinary medical services are to be met. Ideally, veterinary medical care is a service-oriented business, run by a well-trained health care team that is led by a veterinarian. The veterinarian is trained to diagnose, prescribe treatment, perform surgery, and assign prognoses for cases presented. Proper and appropriate use of veterinary technicians, which utilize their technical expertise, will allow veterinarians to concentrate on the responsibilities that require their knowledge and skill.
An alternative for meeting the demand for companion-animal veterinary services is to increase the number of veterinarians devoted to companion-animal private practice. If there is no substantial increase in the number of graduates from accredited veterinary colleges, the demand could be met by employing veterinarians from colleges not accredited by the Council on Education of the AVMA, or by redirecting existing DVMs from other sectors of the profession. Both are occurring already. The number of graduates from non-accredited veterinary colleges obtaining licensure is increasing annually. During 2006, 371 certificates from AVMA Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG) were awarded, 160 of which were to U.S. citizens. As of March 2007, 1,826 candidates were enrolled in the ECFVG program, 336 of whom were U.S. citizens (AVMA, 2007c). The projections in this analysis suggest that this trend will continue as the need for companion-animal veterinary services continues to grow. The U.S. citizens who enroll in these non-accredited institutions will pay the full cost of their education, which is not subsidized by public funds as are most U.S. veterinary schools, and their ability to obtain licensure in the United States is frequently delayed by a year or more while they progress through the ECFVG program.
Americans ultimately can obtain licensure and contribute to the veterinary workforce after having attended a non-accredited institution, but the time required can be longer and the cost to the students higher than if they had attended