Issue 3: Anemic funding for education
The financial pinch for veterinary education likely will continue, Lewis adds.
"States are withdrawing money at the same time the need is increasing. I think it has been very difficult for state universities."
At the same time, universities overseas and on the islands have been increasing class sizes as a way to boost supply.
"It is an interesting phenomenon because we have moved into globalization. Our state system is almost preventing our educational
system from competing on the global scene. It is not preventing educational systems from other countries from competing. They
are gearing up like mad. British universities have been told that we are living in a global environment; go out and educate
"So, why aren't our own veterinary schools accredited overseas? Because there is so much need here, there isn't much of a
stimulus to do that."
Simply seeking more money is not a long-term solution, he says. "They are going to have to look for other ways to do it. I
think our schools need to restructure the way veterinary education is delivered to make it a lot less expensive."
Consideration should be given to the European style of veterinary education, a five-year veterinary program that begins following
high school, Lewis says.
Issue 4: A changing model for advanced care?
When it comes to specialized care, veterinary medicine is falling into a two-tiered structure, Lewis says. Clearly defining
the role of the generalist and specialist is critical to avoiding many of the problems emerging with the human health-care
Refer the complicated, unusual or difficult cases, Lewis says, but not all cases. The future hazard will be if general practitioners
become triage doctors to the specialties, like in human medicine.
"It is impossibly expensive in human medicine. And when you start looking at the body from one discipline, you can't put it
all together as a clinician."
Issue 5: An eye toward prevention
Just a few decades ago, food-animal veterinarians changed direction from an emergency role to one of consultation and prevention.
The same trend will happen in small-animal medicine, Lewis predicts.
"Medicine has improved dramatically. The bonus is that long life goes along with good health. It is what people want for their
pets. It's what food-animal producers wanted 20 years ago. Banfield has some 2 million people purchasing wellness plans. I
think it is an important sign for the rest of our profession. As a doctor, if you have to start off with a problem, then you
are chasing an ever-diminishing segment of the market."