No veterinary workforce shortage, study finds - DVM
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No veterinary workforce shortage, study finds
But impending gaps are identified in research, public health, industry; panel calls veterinary profession's current direction 'unsustainable.'


In rural areas where there are too few farms that are too widely dispersed to make veterinary practice finacially feasible, the profession should look to the human health model of utilizing nurse practitioners and other paraprofessionals in underserved areas, the report recommends.

"The AVMA and other professional associations will need to enter a dialogue with officials to modify state practice acts to permit credentialed veterinary technicians to administer livestock-health services, provided that they are subject to collaborative oversight (and constant communication) with licensed practitioners who may be in distant locations," the report says. "Veterinary technicians and other paraprofessionals working with food animal veterinarians in this way have the potential to provide affordable, high-quality care to rural America, and their role should be expanded."

Global food issues will dominate the 21st century, and the veterinary profession must be equipped to manage these challenges. With the world's population currently at 7 billion and well on its way to 9 billion by 2050, the report says, "it is increasingly clear that agricultural science, veterinary medicine and other disciplines must work together to deliver sufficient, safe food to sustain the world's growing population."

Currently the rising demand for animal protein in developing, rapidly urbanizing areas of the world is being met by increasing numbers of low-producing animals, a trend that is "environmentally destructive and unsustainable," the report states. One example is ranchers in Argentina clear-cutting the rain forest to create grazing pasture for their cattle.

As an alternative, the veterinary profession should partner with other disciplines and organizations to increase the efficiency of livestock and poultry production so that yields are higher and numbers are lower. Plus, veterinarians need to understand animal health hazards and control infectious disease outbreaks that endanger public health. All of this, the report says, calls for an expansion of the One Health initiative beyond infectious diseases into management of food safety and sustainability.

"Society tends to view veterinary medicine through the narrow lens of companion animal medicine," the report reads. "The profession has not done enough to expand recognition of its immense responsibilities in addressing global food security and resilience. Tackling the multiple dimensions of One Health and sustainable food security will require a new, broader definition of veterinary medicine, of its foundational competencies and the focus that veterinary research must take."

Andrew McCabe, DVM, MPH, JD, executive director of the AAVMC, says he is pleased with how closely the report aligns with the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium (NAVMEC) "Roadmap for Veterinary Medical Education in the 21st Century" in calling for changes to veterinary education.

"This report confirms our initial thoughts that there are sectors of unmet need and shortages in certain key disciplines: biomedical research, public health and global medicine," McCabe says. "There are certainly areas of unmet need. If we fail to meet those, we risk losing relevance in society."


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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