The solution to a veterinarian shortage


Today's veterinary students just don't have the same drive and determination as the Baby Boomers have.

So, let's see if I have this straight. According to the June 2010 issue of DVM Newsmagazine, there is an ongoing critical rural veterinarian shortage; more males than females reported an interest in rural practice; more males cited real-life experience in family farming as part of their motivational interest in rural practice; more females cited James Herriot's romanticized tales of veterinary medicine as part of their rural practice attraction. (Rural veterinary shortage caused by retention issues, not attraction.)

Seems to me we're looking for well-grounded male vet students to fix this problem, but since "there was not a significant difference between the numbers of men and women who left rural practice," there must be factors other than gender involved in the problem.

Many vets who graduated in the last 10 years were born in the late 1970s and the 1980s (Trophy Kids or Generation Y). Some consider members of the Gen Y group to have an unusually strong sense of entitlement, with expectations for employers to make accommodations for their lifestyles.

"They really do seem to want everything," says Derrick Bolton, assistant dean and MBA admissions director at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. "They want to be CEO, for example, but they say they don't want to give up time with their families.

"Although they have high expectations about what their employers should provide, companies shouldn't expect much loyalty in return. If a job doesn't prove fulfilling, they will forsake it in a flash. Many employers say it's retention that worries them most."

In contrast, Baby Boomers (my generation) are often considered self-sacrificing workaholics motivated by position, perks and prestige. Baby Boomers relish long work weeks, and are said to be confident, independent, self-reliant, loyal, achievement-oriented, dedicated and career-focused.

In one article ("Veterinary schools post 3 percent increase in numbers of 2010 graduates") the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine reports graduating a whopping 141 new vets, of whom 81 percent were female; OSU does not track its graduates post-college career paths so they have no idea if they have had any positive impact at all on the large-animal veterinarian shortage. Many other veterinary colleges are admitting and graduating more vets than ever while the shortage stubbornly continues to worsen.

Assuming they are interested in correcting the problem, and with no regard for being politically correct, I suggest that veterinary college admission committees have been so concerned with filling seats that they have been admitting too many people to vet school who will not contribute to the rural practice manpower-shortage solution. The applicants you folks should be fast-tracking and subsidizing are males with significant real life experience in family farming and livestock management who have never read All Creatures Great and Small (sorry James) and hold Baby Boomer beliefs and values.

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