A 2006 AVMA study showed food-animal veterinarians--ones who specialize in livestock (swine, cattle, etc.) --will increase by 12 to 13 percent by 2016; the same study predicted that the number of veterinarians trained to treat large animals will grow by only 7 or 8 percent, leaving a potential drop of at least 4 percent. This means that only 96 veterinarians will be available to fill every 100 large-animal practice positions.
Less and less students today come from rural backgrounds, which will lead to a shortage in equine veterinarians. To address this potential problem, the AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners) helps sponsor an annual Opportunities in Equine Practice Seminar for third-year veterinary students with talks designed to promote equine practice as a career option. Others, such as professional veterinary schools have tried to give more student aid and help towards students who are looking into professional school, but simply cannot afford the cost. Also, undergraduate programs across the country are looking into starting a quota for animal science major entries, and also introducing the classes about horse and possibilities in jobs earlier on.
However, this talk does not seem to be successful just yet. With the growing challenge of getting into veterinary school, many students are backing out of the profession altogether. That being said, the professional schools are becoming less expensive to students who have worked hard through their undergraduate years-so who knows, maybe that will help grow the industry into the future!
My personal approach and idea would be to create a school for large animal veterinarians in which they can enter directly out of high school, and dive head-first into the material right away. This way, we could get more students into the jobs faster and more efficiently, avoiding all of the excess general education classes that do not seem to relate to the profession. I'm sure many undergraduate programs, and perhaps some professional school programs would disagree with me, but it really would make sense. If students already knew what they wanted to do and where they wanted to end up, then why not let them start straight off the bat in that area of learning?
A solution to this problem would mean more available equine veterinarians, and less waiting around in the case of an emergency. It would also bring the prices of vet visits and surgeries for the average horse owner, who is already struggling to make ends meet. It would make choosing the correct veterinarian easier, and would make it easier to care for horses all over the country. This industry is not going to come to a close, so we need to make a change and promote the equine veterinarian career to students now, so tomorrow we won't have to worry about this problem.
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