Reshaping access can enhance the profession overall and provide better job satisfaction
“Veterinary medicine is a verb, it’s not just a profession. It's evolving all the time. It's happening around you. Sometimes it feels like it's happening to us. And so that's why I really wanted to focus today on access to care, because it is one of those things that can get lost [and] can be overshadowed by the day-to-day grind,” said Courtney Campbell, DVM, DACVS-SA, during his session at the Fetch dvm360 conference in Kansas City, Missouri.1
He added, “Our main focal points for providing access to care: how do we deliver that access to care?” Delivering access to care can include:
Campbell explained that there are many challenges in the veterinary profession that prevent the progression of access to care. Veterinary shortages and deserts have impacted both veterinary professionals and pet parents. Shortages for the vet team can cause burnout and passion fatigue, potentially leading to suicide. A recent survey showed that about 70% of veterinarians have lost a colleague to suicide.2 For clients, shortages can mean more travel, longer wait times, and little to no access to emergency services.
One suggestion Campbell had for improving access to care comes from allowing continuing education (CE) credits to be valid across all states. He said, “When I was talking with various people, they said to me, ‘I'd like to move to Tennessee, or I'd like to move to Arkansas but the last 5 years of my CE, I just threw it out.” So [the credentialing process] is really challenging. So I feel like the future will be greater license portability among states. If you're credentialed in California, that means you had to go through all of that effort to be credentialed in California. Why are [those credentials] not okay for Nevada? Why is that not okay for Texas? It should be. So, what we'll start to see is a sort of a unification or blending of that license portability.”
Another suggestion is utilizing telemedicine whenever possible. Campbell said, “To be honest, I'm sure all of us do a little mini version of telemedicine. I’ll get pictures, videos on WhatsApp or I'll get an email here and there.” He also explained that virtual care can help with follow-up appointments and triaging patients. “For people who [have an] inability to travel, or people who have mobility issues, or individuals who have difficulty getting into the hospital, telemedicine provides that alternative for them. Particularly on rechecks. That's really important. You could even have credentialed veterinary technicians doing telemedicine consultations [online].”
At-home diagnostics are also making the way into veterinary medicine and could be considered a form of telemedicine. Campbell mentioned that they may seem worrisome at first, but they could be the future of veterinary medicine and they could become useful for certain diagnoses.