National Academies Press: OpenBook

Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine (2013)

Chapter: Executive Summary

« Previous: Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine
Suggested Citation:"Executive Summary." National Research Council. 2013. Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13413.
×

Executive Summary

The U.S. veterinary medical profession contributes to society in diverse ways, from developing drugs and protecting the food supply to treating companion animals and investigating animal diseases in the wild. In a study of the issues related to the veterinary medical workforce, including demographics, workforce supply, trends affecting job availability, and capacity of the educational system to fill future demands, a National Research Council committee found that the profession faces important challenges in maintaining the economic sustainability of veterinary practice and education, building its scholarly foundations, and evolving veterinary service to meet changing societal needs.

The committee found little evidence of workforce shortages in most fields of veterinary medicine. True personnel shortages are indicated when salaries rise sharply in an attempt to attract qualified candidates to fill persistent vacancies. That is not occurring in any sector of veterinary medicine, except industry, where high salaries are offered to candidates with both a doctoral degree in veterinary medicine (DVM1) and a PhD, or with advanced training in pathology or laboratory-animal medicine.

Nevertheless, some veterinary colleges have increased enrollment and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has accredited additional veterinary schools to accommodate more students, most of whom will likely practice companion-animal medicine. Those actions will increase the supply of companion-animal practitioners, the largest group of veterinary practitioners, at a time of uncertain demand for companion-animal services. The profession’s leaders should pay attention to improving the economic value of the DVM, especially given the cost of a veterinary education, which is typically shared by the student and the public. The financial reward for the investment of time and money in obtaining a DVM is lower than that in other medical professions, such as dentists and pharmacists, which have the same or fewer years of training.

A larger consequence of increasing enrollments may be for the veterinary colleges themselves, which have inadequate resources for clinical faculty, specialists, and others needed to train future practitioners. Companion-animal veterinary medicine has come to dominate the curriculum and resources of veterinary schools, sometimes to the detriment of other fields of veterinary medicine, at a time when many veterinary schools are facing a precipitous decline in state support for faculty positions and tuition.

_____________________

1 The University of Pennsylvania awards the Veterinariae Medicinae Doctoris (VMD), an equivalent to the DVM.

Suggested Citation:"Executive Summary." National Research Council. 2013. Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13413.
×

Future actions should be informed by reliable national data on consumer demand for companion-animal care and the economics of private practice (including the work patterns of practitioners and the role of veterinary technicians), by the need to maintain the quality and affordability of a veterinary education, and by the need to educate veterinarians for other sectors of the profession. Developing new business models for providing specialty training is part of this challenge. The committee recommends that the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, the American Animal Hospital Association, and the AVMA work together to collect the necessary data and conduct planning.

The committee found that increasing student debt associated with a veterinary education is one factor that undermines the inclination of graduates to pursue PhD research training that would prepare them for academic careers, key jobs in public practice, and some positions in industry. Partnerships between industry and academe to expose DVM students to research and the establishment of joint DVM-PhD programs may increase the pool of potential candidates needed by academe, government, and industry.

Because research is important for the future of the profession, leaders in academe should make a greater commitment to strengthening its scholarly base. It is essential to attract more public and private support for veterinary colleges, but that requires academe to demonstrate the value of investment in veterinary medical research. Hiring DVM-PhDs and PhDs to attract grants, serve as mentors, and provide graduate training of veterinarians at the doctoral level for both biomedical and clinical animal research would keep veterinary schools in the mainstream of research.

An important challenge to the profession is its ability to evolve veterinary services in synchrony with societal needs. For example, to increase the value of veterinary services to large, intensive livestock and poultry producers, the education of food-animal practitioners should be reoriented toward herd health and improving the productivity of farm operations. In rural areas, where primary veterinary care is needed but there are too few farms to support full-time veterinarians, a system of animal health care involving rigorously trained technicians under the supervision of veterinarians could be developed. Such arrangements, which would also strengthen disease surveillance, could be initiated through negotiations by veterinary professional associations with state regulatory officials.

The veterinary profession should expand its capacity to address complex global problems, such as those associated with food security, by encouraging interactions between U.S. veterinary graduates and other disciplines and cultures, particularly in the developing world, where the profession has an opportunity to leverage its expertise in One Health2 and lead advances in food-animal husbandry and welfare, water safety and security, and the health of wildlife and ecosystems.

_____________________

2 One Health is a holistic concept of health that recognizes and addresses the complex linkages between humans, wild and domestic animals, and their ecosystems.

Suggested Citation:"Executive Summary." National Research Council. 2013. Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13413.
×
Page 3
Suggested Citation:"Executive Summary." National Research Council. 2013. Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13413.
×
Page 4
Next: Summary »
Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine Get This Book
×
Buy Paperback | $60.00 Buy Ebook | $47.99
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

The U.S. veterinary medical profession contributes to society in diverse ways, from developing drugs and protecting the food supply to treating companion animals and investigating animal diseases in the wild. In a study of the issues related to the veterinary medical workforce, including demographics, workforce supply, trends affecting job availability, and capacity of the educational system to fill future demands, a National Research Council committee found that the profession faces important challenges in maintaining the economic sustainability of veterinary practice and education, building its scholarly foundations, and evolving veterinary service to meet changing societal needs.

Many concerns about the profession came into focus following the outbreak of West Nile fever in 1999, and the subsequent outbreaks of SARS, monkeypox, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, highly pathogenic avian influenza, H1N1 influenza, and a variety of food safety and environmental issues heightened public concerns. They also raised further questions about the directions of veterinary medicine and the capacity of public health service the profession provides both in the United States and abroad.

To address some of the problems facing the veterinary profession, greater public and private support for education and research in veterinary medicine is needed. The public, policymakers, and even medical professionals are frequently unaware of how veterinary medicine fundamentally supports both animal and human health and well-being. This report seeks to broaden the public's understanding and attempts to anticipate some of the needs and measures that are essential for the profession to fulfill given its changing roles in the 21st century.

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    Switch between the Original Pages, where you can read the report as it appeared in print, and Text Pages for the web version, where you can highlight and search the text.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  9. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!