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AVMA looks to food animal group to investigate manpower shortage

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Jan 01, 2004

Cleveland-The American Veterinary Medical Association's (AVMA) Executive Board voted to put a food animal practitioner manpower study on hold.


Food animal groups want to understand recruitment and retention of veterinarians into food animal medicine. A major survey is in the works to document the trends.
Officials say the move was not so much a message on the need for such a study, but moreover they didn't want to duplicate efforts of the Food Animal Summit Task Force, a group formed to conduct a major, third-party study to investigate recruitment and retention of food animal veterinarians.

Dr. Tom Burkgren, executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV), says that FAST received requests for proposals from two independent research firms. A final decision on which research firm will conduct the study, funding issues and other logistical considerations may be finalized as soon as this month, Burkgren reports.

Preliminary plans call for completion of the study in late 2004.

FAST is represented by the all the major food animal specialty groups including American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP), AASV, Academy of Veterinary Consultants, American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners, the American Association of Avian Pathologists, National Commission of Veterinary Economic Issues and AVMA.

Burkgren adds that there has already been a strong financial commitment to proceed with the study from both the AABP and the AASV.

"Once the funding is secured, this is going to start moving pretty quickly," Burkgren adds.

The FAST study will be comprehensive in its design and will answer a number of questions about the recruitment and retention of food animal veterinarians, officials say.

"We want to know what attracts veterinary students into food animal medicine in the first place, and, just as importantly, what retains them," he explains.

Burkgren adds, "This study will be used, it won't just sit there on the shelf."

Dr. Rod Sydenham, a bovine veterinarian and a founding member of FAST, explains, "FAST's main concern is to continue the supply of safe and wholesome animal products. The population that is looking after the supply now is aging and there will come a time when they retire. We want to make sure there is a continuation of this service. Veterinary medicine is the profession that is best placed to ensure the continuation of the supply of safe and wholesome food animal products."