It’s all about pets for aspiring vets these days. There aren’t enough veterinary students interested in public sector, food or research jobs, according to a new study published by the National Academies of Science.
Over 50 percent of veterinary students are interested in companion animal care. And, of those students, a significant percentage is interested in specialty areas such as surgery, oncology, and orthopedic medicine, according to the report. As a result, many veterinary schools have focused their curricula on companion animal care, while other important subjects such as infectious diseases, public health, and environmental toxicology have taken a back seat.
Already, veterinary positions in the public sector are unfilled in important areas such as epidemiology, food safety, wildlife and ecosystem health, and public health, the report states. And there isn’t a crush of students in the pipeline.
Overall, there isn’t a widespread shortage of veterinary students, but some key sectors don’t have enough well-qualified candidates, according to the report. Even when offering high salaries. Areas that face shortages include the industrial sector, which lacks enough candidates with advanced training in biochemistry, toxicology, or pathology; the research sector, to produce faculty with grant-writing skills and the study of livestock.
The last area is of particular concern, according to the report. Growing demand for meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products and other foods derived from animals is “putting stress on agricultural systems” and changed the kind of veterinary services required to care for livestock, poultry and swine.