A new National Academies Press report, Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine, details in more than 300 pages the issues, conclusions and recommendations for veterinary workforce needs. Not surprising, there is a large amount of space devoted to the food-animal profession in the report.

A National Research Council committee found that the profession faces important challenges in maintaining the economic sustainability of veterinary practice and education, building its scholarly foundations, and evolving veterinary service to meet changing societal needs.

Five conclusions and 10 recommendations were given. The conclusions (abbreviated) are:

  1. There is little evidence of widespread workforce shortages, although industry and some areas of academic veterinary medicine are experiencing shortages of veterinarians with advanced training. There is also a difference between workforce shortages and unmet needs for veterinarian positions.
  2. Decline in funding of education and research has jeopardized the profession’s future capacity to serve societal needs.
  3. Current return on investment for veterinary education is unsustainable and cost of veterinary education is at a crisis point.
  4. The veterinary profession is losing its presence in food-animal production and care. The Committee recommends a reorientation of education toward herd health and interventions aimed at improving the financial health of the farm operations. It also recommends that veterinary schools should create centers of emphasis on food-animal medicine, and new services – potentially using technicians – should be considered to serve underserved areas. This would require modification of state practice acts, and they likened it to paraprofessionals in other industries such as nurse practitioners.
  5. Veterinarians need to be more active in One Health solutions to enhance global food security.

NAS has released this as a pre-publication report online (final to be released this summer) that can be downloaded and read for free, or you can also purchase the report.