AAVMC sees opportunities for less traditional DVM roles

Apr 01, 2003
By dvm360.com staff

Columbus, Ohio-A wealth of human resource needs have emerged in veterinary medicine, and if students aren't prepared, the jobs likely will pass up the profession.

That's what Dr. Kent Hoblet says as he works to identify manpower needs related to veterinary medicine in areas not associated with companion animal practice. Authoring a white paper on the topic, Hoblet plans to unveil his results during the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges' (AAVMC) annual conference in July in Denver.

The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine (OSU) professor says veterinary medical work in public health, laboratory animal medicine, and within the military as well as state, federal and local governments is not sufficiently promoted by veterinary college programs.

"Traditionally, veterinary students get into school and a lot of them think they have their mind set on private practice," says Hoblet, chair of OSU's Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. "But the traditional training we give veterinarians is a great base for other things. The opportunities out there are fantastic for veterinary medicine right now, but some of those opportunities are not being realized. We need to do a better job in making students aware of all they can do."

Target audience

The paper aims to reach students considering a career in practice and graduates of up to five years, which is a crucial time for many DVMs considering career changes, says Dr. Andrew Maccabe, AAVMC director of programs and services.

"Public health, biodefense, population medicine, administration, public policy - it's all interconnected," he says. "This is a part of the profession that needs some attention right now, especially with the increased risk for terrorism."

Hoblet reveals federal and state governments as well as industry currently employ roughly 5,000 veterinarians while 10,000 DVMs work in at least some aspect of food animal practice.

"I'm trying to figure out if the veterinary colleges are turning out enough students to meet these needs," he says. "For instance, there's a tremendous shortage of pathologists in public practice."

In the works

As the professor continues his research, an AAVMC task force also prepares a parallel study looking specifically at public practice. The white paper will contain the task force's data, Hoblet says.

"The task force is looking at the needs of the government and federal needs at the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Human Service, plus state and industry needs," he says. "My white paper will draw on what they already have. In addition to public practice, I've added food animal practice in government as well as corporate and private food animal practice."

Missed opportunities

While his work isn't complete, Hoblet surmises that the current training and career tracks of most veterinary students won't meet the public's evolving human resource needs.

"It does appear the profession will have some missed opportunities if we can't fill these spots," he says. Other professions will fill them. We have to make students aware that things like this exist. We have to train them while inschool, so they can make the switch when they get out."