The Lack of Veterinarians

The Lack of Veterinarians

The Lack of Veterinarians. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.

It’s not an epidemic, yet. But unless something is done in the next few years, it may get to be a major problem in the ag community. No, I’m not talking about some new disease but the lack of one of the most important roles in the livestock industry. Veterinarian’s. And in particular those that work specifically with livestock according to WSU’s George Barrington.

BARRINGTON: You know I think nationally and certainly some regions are more severely affected than others is that those veterinarians who are practicing in agricultural oriented practices or livestock, however you want to term it; there’s indications that the facet is open and people are leaving the profession as far as retirement and attrition and that sense but the input of new veterinarians and starting at the veterinarian student level, of those interested in pursuing careers in animal agriculture are less and less.

Barrington thinks there are a number of reasons for the decline.

BARRINGTON: It seems like there’s less and less students that are interested in pursuing that career and that’s probably and that’s probably a function of the experience of our students so we’re having less students with farm backgrounds or any type of agricultural background.

Because fewer farm kids are going into the business, Barrington says we are seeing more urban students going into the companion animal or pet market but fewer have an interest in the good old farm veterinarian.

BARRINGTON: There’s two things here I think also. One of them is definitely folks that are interested in animal agriculture and then the other is folks that want to live in more rural communities. Sometimes I think it gets smeared a little bit between the shortage of animal agriculture veterinarians and the shortage of veterinarians who are going to live and work in more rural settings.

With a field that is as wide open as this it might be a good time for students to consider a career in veterinary medicine.

BARRINGTON: The majority of people that enter veterinary medical school have a bachelor’s degree so they’ve got 4 years of college and then the medical education process is another 4 years. There’s a few little variations from school to school but on average it’s about 4 years. Then there’s a series of testing and then people can get out and practice and hopefully get under the mentorship of a good veterinarian.

That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Northwest Ag Information Network.

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