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Addressing the Impending Veterinary Shortage and Curriculum Adaptation

by Animal Health2 | Oct 10, 2023

There have been several articles citing the impending veterinary shortage and several articles opposing this viewpoint. Getting this topic right is critical for our industry.

There are 11 new veterinary programs seeking accreditation from the AVMA Council on Education which would represent a 33% increase in the United States of AVMA-accredited veterinary schools. 

When looking at the increase in new accredited veterinary schools and the increased enrollment of first-year veterinary students for the 2022-2023 school year, I wonder not just about the need for more students but also about how telehealth and pet ownership trends are being incorporated into the curriculum.

Telehealth- how to use it, when to use it and how to incorporate it into the flow of services in the clinic. With five states permitting the VCPR to be established online, the use of telemedicine will likely increase. How are veterinary schools training students to assess and evaluate patients virtually? 

Additionally, data from MRI-Simmons showed the number of U.S. households with a puppy under a year old falling from 5.6 million in 2014 to 4.4 million in 2023. The number of households with a kitten rose from 3.1 million to 3.9 million during this same period. When looking at kitten vs puppy owners between the age of 18-24, kitten owners rose from 9% in 2014 to 12% in 2023 and puppy owners went from 12% to 9% during this same timeframe.

How are veterinary schools ensuring that students are trained on feline behaviors and how to interact with cats? Is there enough time allocated to feline medicine in veterinary schools to ensure proper training of graduates to match the pet ownership trends?

The impending veterinary shortage is a complex problem that requires a wide array of solutions. I encourage our industry to not just look at numbers but also ensure the curriculum matches the technology and pet ownership trends. 




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