A shot in the arm | TSLN.com

A shot in the arm

Loretta Sorensen

Photo by Loretta SorensenDr. Nathan Earl, who practices at Dakota Large Animal Clinic in Harrisburg, SD, believes beef producers are beginning to feel the pinch brought about by new trends in the veterinarian industry. In addition to the heavy debt load graduating veterinary students face, graduates tend to choose small animal practice over large animal because profits are better, hours are more regulated and physical risk is reduced.

Food supply veterinary medicine needs a shot in the arm to increase the number of veterinary students who select food supply veterinary medicine (FSVM) as their career. Animals included in that group are beef and dairy cattle, swine, and small ruminants. Veterinarians with these skills will also be in demand in veterinary colleges, the pharmaceutical industry, and government agencies involved in animal health, public health and food safety and security.

A comprehensive study completed by the American Veterinary Medicine Association in 2004 found that even though the food systems supplying meat, dairy and eggs in the US and Canada are consolidating, the need for veterinarians in both countries will continue to grow.

At least 12 Nebraska counties with more than 25,000 food supply animals have no food-supply veterinarian. Many counties in North and South Dakota, Kansas, Indiana, and Missouri are facing a similar situation. In Texas, 28 counties, some with as many as 119,000 animals, have no FSVM.

Many factors are driving the shortage, including a declining number of students who have experienced a rural background. With shrinking rural populations, more students are coming from urban areas.

Dr. Nathan Earl, who practices at Dakota Large Animal Clinic in Harrisburg, SD, where horses comprise 90 percent of the clinic’s business, says he and his two fellow veterinarians there are already seeing a trend for interns to choose companion pet practices over large animals.

Food supply veterinary medicine needs a shot in the arm to increase the number of veterinary students who select food supply veterinary medicine (FSVM) as their career. Animals included in that group are beef and dairy cattle, swine, and small ruminants. Veterinarians with these skills will also be in demand in veterinary colleges, the pharmaceutical industry, and government agencies involved in animal health, public health and food safety and security.

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A comprehensive study completed by the American Veterinary Medicine Association in 2004 found that even though the food systems supplying meat, dairy and eggs in the US and Canada are consolidating, the need for veterinarians in both countries will continue to grow.

At least 12 Nebraska counties with more than 25,000 food supply animals have no food-supply veterinarian. Many counties in North and South Dakota, Kansas, Indiana, and Missouri are facing a similar situation. In Texas, 28 counties, some with as many as 119,000 animals, have no FSVM.

Many factors are driving the shortage, including a declining number of students who have experienced a rural background. With shrinking rural populations, more students are coming from urban areas.

Dr. Nathan Earl, who practices at Dakota Large Animal Clinic in Harrisburg, SD, where horses comprise 90 percent of the clinic’s business, says he and his two fellow veterinarians there are already seeing a trend for interns to choose companion pet practices over large animals.