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Letter to dvm360: A midlevel veterinary professional? The time has not come
Copying human medicine hasn't always worked well for the veterinary profession.
With an oversupply (hence un-/underemployment) of veterinarians expected to worsen as universities continue to increase class sizes, bringing in a middle-level professional seems like an idea only universities could see as beneficial to the veterinary economic system (see the July issue of dvm360). If the economics don't work, everyone-pets, owners, universities, veterinarians and support staff-loses.
Copying human medicine hasn't always worked out for the veterinary profession. No matter how the idea of a veterinary professional associate (VPA) is introduced, the end result will be middle-level professionals added to private practices instead of hiring another veterinarian because the middle-level professional will cost less and may bring in the same dollar amount.
Physician assistants and nurse practitioners must practice under the auspices of a physician. The idea that VPAs will work mostly in underserved areas is weak at best. VPAs will have invested in their education and will want to make a living to feed their family just as any professional needs and wants. Legislating their license so that they could work only in underserved areas would, I suspect, be overturned by courts if ever attempted by states. This is bad timing for the introduction of this idea.
Linda Light, DVM