Mars addresses veterinary workforce shortage through various initiatives
Mars Veterinary Health announced in a company release1 it’s investing in various youth-centered programs to help combat talent shortages across the industry. According to Mars research,2 up to 55,000 additional veterinarians will be needed to meet the needs of companion animal healthcare in the US by 2030.
In line with the company’s purpose of a better world for pets, Mars aims to educate upcoming veterinary professionals and ensure they are prepared when they reach the clinic. There are several ways Mars’ veterinary businesses are helping promote a more sustainable profession as outlined below1:
Mars Veterinary Health is sponsoring the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine's League of VetaHumanz, which collaborates with community organizations to offer access and support for underrepresented children that aim to pursue veterinary careers. With the help of veterinary professionals in academia, practice, research, government, and industry, the program engages under-resourced communities to inform and encourage children in kindergarten through fourth grade with veterinary lessons, activities, stories, and self-guided educational STEM experiences.1
"The Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine's League of VetaHumanz provides our veterinary Associates meaningful ways to give back to their communities and contribute to a better future for our profession," said Molly McAllister, DVM, MPH, chief medical officer, Mars Veterinary Health. "Providing positive experiences and role models for aspiring veterinary professionals from under-resourced communities will help create a more diverse, inclusive, and unified veterinary profession—and ultimately enable us to serve more pets."1
The Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine League of VetaHumanz is supported by the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health.
In May,3 Vet Set Go, the first web-based community that helps young aspiring veterinarians, publicized the winners of its 2023 Become a Veterinarian Camp Contest. VCA granted scholarships to 45 aspiring veterinary professionals this year, so these middle schoolers could go to the Become a Veterinarian Camp hosted by the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine this summer.
"There's a lot of joy in this field. It's what attracted me and was a big part of my decision at an early age to pursue a career caring for animals," said Todd Lavender, DVM, president, VCA Animal Hospitals.1 "Each submission in this year's Vet Set Go competition spoke to the heart we have in this profession and the commitment we each feel to doing our part to make a difference. I'm incredibly proud that VCA is supporting this program, caring for the future of veterinary medicine by supporting tomorrow's professionals."
At the Become a Veterinarian Camp, contest winners were informed about veterinary medicine, education, and careers from current veterinary students in Auburn University classrooms, clinics, and laboratories.1 They were educated on public health, agricultural animals, wildlife, anatomy, imaging and first aid on all kinds of species.
Banfield Pet Hospital held its second-annual NextVet internship program that strives to strengthen and diversify the veterinary profession by developing career pathways for students 16 years and older to explore a future in veterinary medicine. There was a 300% year-over-year increase in 2023 NextVet applications, and the practice chose 30 interns from that group which is over double the number from last year.2
Shelby, a NextVet intern who recently started her internship in New York, expressed,1 "To be surrounded by Black women in veterinary medicine is huge for me. It's already been life-changing."
The participants receive paid work experience from Banfield’s hospital teams, and many interns can engage in paid volunteer opportunities with their teammates.