Blog: Why its a great decision to be a veterinarian
Demographic trends point to increasing demand for veterinary services.
It's been a busy summer for the perennial debating society about whether the United States has too many veterinarians. The American Veterinary Medical Association's convention in Denver saw a panel debate the alleged oversupply of veterinarians with your blogger taking the side that the future is bright against three commentators lamenting the current state of affairs-some arguing that a concerted effort should be undertaken to persuade undergraduates to look elsewhere than veterinary schools for future opportunities.
Then an article appears in a nonveterinary publication alerting readers that veterinary medicine is a Top 10 career choice based on future scenarios. Coming in late October will be the national Annual AVMA Economic Summit on veterinary economics, veterinary demand and implications for the future supply of veterinary graduates. Meanwhile, two new American veterinary schools opened in August: Lincoln Memorial University in East Tennessee (with whom this blogger is affiliated) and Midwestern University near Phoenix, Arizona.
If you believe that America's love affair with pets is not a passing fad, then the projected growth of our human population from 310 million to over 400 million in 40 to 50 years augurs well for veterinarians. And that's if the ratio of pets per household remains static. Tens of millions of new pets will require healthcare, and our challenge is likely not to be too many practitioners but where and how to find healthy, humanely bred dogs to meet demand. And this does not factor in the possibility of a higher percentage of Americans choosing to explore the joys of pet ownership.
Demographic trends may be the salvation of American veterinarians, as contrasted with Russia, Japan and a host of European countries facing long-term declines in human populations and, of necessity, pet populations. Are we likely to see the debate end about alleged oversupply of veterinarians? Not in my lifetime, as this is a debate seemingly woven into the fabric of veterinary medicine in the United States. But perhaps we could expand the conversation sometime soon to explore how veterinarians and supporting industries plan to step up to meet the surge in demand that is on its way. Just a thought-to be explored in more depth in my future blogs.
Mark Cushing, JD, is founding partner of the Animal Policy Group, providing government relations and strategic services for various animal health, veterinary and educational interests. He maintains offices in Portland, Ore., and Washington, D.C., and is a frequent speaker at veterinary conferences.
The Veterinary Policy Notes blog on dvm360.com helps veterinarians and other animal health professionals keep abreast of the growing number of issues, political challenges and regulatory initiatives affecting the veterinary profession, animal health industry and animal welfare movement.