Researchers ready to unveil demographic report


Manhattan, Kan — Pending study results reportedly track a shortage of food-supply veterinarians in the United States and rate the nation's demand for them.

MANHATTAN, KAN. — Pending study results reportedly track a shortage of food-supply veterinarians in the United States and rate the nation's demand for them.

Data from the Food Supply Veterinary Medicine Coalition's (FSVMC) $300,000 study, commissioned last year, are slated for release in July during the American Veterinary Medical Association's (AVMA) annual convention in Minneapolis.

Kansas State University (KSU) researchers heading the project say veterinarians play key roles in the nation's foodsupply chain, and study results prove it. The coalition, formed to assure food safety, is comprised of the AVMA, Bayer Animal Health and at least five allied veterinary medical groups. Food-supply veterinary medicine is a term that encompasses all aspects of the profession's involvement in food-supply systems, from traditional agricultural production to consumption. The FSVMC study offers the first solid data on numbers of veterinarians working on food animal initiatives in the United States and gauges the need for them.

"The initial goal of the Food Supply Veterinary Medicine Coalition is to ensure a safe and wholesome food supply in the United States," says David Andrus, PhD, a researcher with KSU's College of Business Administration. "We think food animal veterinarians play a critical role in the food-supply chain."

Supply, demand

That's reportedly clear in the demand section of the FSVMC study while the supply side of the report addresses student recruitment, retention and appropriate training for food-supply veterinarians. Via Web-based surveys, the researchers track the career choices of veterinary students, why they might choose jobs in food animal medicine or the food-supply industry and length of stay in their respective careers.

The demand side of the report tackles DVM career options as well as future roles for the profession in food animal medicine or food-supply sectors.

"We have mountains and reams of data," Andrus says. "Veterinary college deans, industry experts, practitioners and students are all answering our questions. It's safe to say we've got a lot of information here."

What to expect

Following the July presentation, hardcopies of the report should be released weeks later, KSU researcher Bruce Prince, PhD, says.

"We're thinking early fall," he says. "We'll have a pretty good understanding of the results by July, but this is a lot of work. It's is pretty comprehensive."

The demand portion of the report addresses 12 career areas that include, among others, dairy, beef, poultry and swine industries. Professional associations supply the FSVMC with information, Prince says.

"We're surveying people in government, industry, academia and private practice," he says. "Right now I can say I have very accurate supply and demand estimates."

In addition to estimates, the researchers seek to develop marketing strategies to promote food-supply jobs in veterinary medicine.

"Veterinarians are very good at medicine; the challenges are knowledge of business dynamics and marketing related issues," Prince says. "Two years of polling and learning the issues up and down the food-supply chain have shown us that."

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