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University partnership program from BluePearl aims to mend veterinary shortages


BluePearl clinicians will work alongside university teaching hospitals in a hybrid position

andrey_orlov / stock.adobe.com

andrey_orlov / stock.adobe.com

BluePearl, a national network of specialty and emergency pet hospitals, is now launching the “BluePearl University Partnership Program” in which BluePearl clinicians will work in a hybrid role with veterinary colleges across the US.1 The clinicians will share their expertise with veterinary students and hopefully help address the shortage of veterinary specialists and professionals.

In an exclusive interview with dvm360, Jimmy Barr, DVM, DACVECC, chief medical officer of BluePearl stated, “Whenever we're thinking about those problems that are facing our profession at this moment, I think most people would agree the shortage of veterinarians is a real problem when we're trying to care for pets.” Barr mentioned that with this scarcity of veterinary professionals in practice, there is the same shortage in academia. Universities are currently struggling with having enough faculty to teach the next generation. The new university partnership program can offer a solution to alleviate this lack of faculty.

Barr told dvm360, “Within the shortages that we have in veterinary medicine, there's a shortage of veterinarians in general, but there's also a looming shortage of specialists. Not just specialists to see cases in a private practice setting, but also specialists to be able to teach more veterinarians. That is where we can help support residencies within universities, and train residents internally, to help in driving the education we need, in order to be able to treat pets and serve our communities, which is ultimately what we're here to do.”

Research from James W. Lloyd, DVM, PHD with Animal Health Economics, LLC found that the number of job openings for specialists exceeds the number of entrants available, ranging from 1.7 to 4.1 more openings available than candidates to hire.2

“It’s no secret that our industry is looking at a future where we do not have enough veterinary specialists and professionals, which is a serious concern for pet owners across the country,” said Lenore Bacek, DVM, MS, DACVECC, vice president of clinical affairs at BluePearl in a company release. “At BluePearl, we are constantly finding new ways to elevate the role of our highly skilled BluePearl specialists, and through the BluePearl University Partnership Program, we are providing a creative solution to the upcoming shortage, which will help pet owners, the next generation of veterinary specialists and the wider industry.”1

The program will initially launch in partnership with Colorado State University (CSU), where BluePearl ophthalmologist, Trevor Arnold, DVM, MS, DACVO, will join CSU’s Veterinary Health System, while also maintaining his role as a clinician with BluePearl in this hybrid function. This means that Arnold will spend about 3 quarters of his work with BluePearl’s Lafayette hospital and 1 quarter with the university.1 BluePearl aims to expand this program in the future to reach universities across the nation.

"CSU is excited to partner with BluePearl in this unique and innovative approach to help train the next generation of veterinarians. The BluePearl specialists bring a diversity of clinical experience and knowledge which will be invaluable to our entire team—students, staff, house officers, and faculty members. The veterinary industry is changing rapidly, and we must adjust to those changes to make the veterinary teaching hospital model sustainable. This program is a prime example of such innovation," said Sheila McMullan, senior associate dean, Colorado State University Veterinary Health System.1

“Our goal is to create a better world for pets and [BluePearl is] trying to do that in this particular way. We want to create this as being the model of what the future of veterinary education [could] look like and create a profession that's more sustainable for all of us, and we were just very excited to be a part of it,” said Barr.


  1. BluePearl launches University Partnership Program to combat veterinary professional shortage. News release. BluePearl Pet Hospitals. October 10, 2023. Accessed October 10, 2023.
  2. Llyod J. Pet healthcare in the US: Are there enough veterinary specialists? Is there adequate training capacity? Animal Health Economics, LLC. February 11, 2022. Accessed October 10, 2023. https://www.marsveterinary.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Characterizing%20the%20Need%20-%20Specialists%20-%20FINAL_2.24.pdf
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