AAVMC sees opportunities for less traditional DVM roles


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.

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

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

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

"Traditionally, veterinary students get into school and a lot ofthem think they have their mind set on private practice," says Hoblet,chair of OSU's Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. "But thetraditional training we give veterinarians is a great base for other things.The opportunities out there are fantastic for veterinary medicine rightnow, but some of those opportunities are not being realized. We need todo 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 andgraduates of up to five years, which is a crucial time for many DVMs consideringcareer changes, says Dr. Andrew Maccabe, AAVMC director of programs andservices.

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

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

"I'm trying to figure out if the veterinary colleges are turningout 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 preparesa parallel study looking specifically at public practice. The white paperwill contain the task force's data, Hoblet says.

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

Missed opportunities

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

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

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