Today's Veterinary Business

FEB 2019

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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Page 48 of 71

Politics & Policy columnist Mark Cushing is founding partner of the Animal Policy Group, serving a wide range of animal health interests as well as veterinary schools on accreditation matters. He is legislative consultant to the Veterinary Nurse Initiative and is a member of the Today's Veterinary Business editorial advisory board. the human-animal bond, led by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute and the rollout of its research programs. Wherever you looked in this vast country — from dog parks to Manhattan sidewalks to stores and workplaces — you saw pets, mainly cats and dogs, and plenty of them. Every single indicator of pet industry health was on the rise: veterinary care, nutri- tion, pharmaceuticals, grooming, boarding, diagnostics, pet products and retail (at least online). Help Wanted So that brings us to 2019 and the answer that virtually every veter- inary practice gives to the simple question "What is your greatest challenge?" The answer: "I cannot find any vets or vet techs." This refrain echoes all over the country, just as veterinary colleges face great difficulty finding faculty. General practices, specialty hospi- tals, emergency clinics — you name it and the problem is the same. We do not have enough veterinarians. Older veterinarians are retiring at a rate approaching 2,000 a year, according to AVMA researchers. Veterinary work weeks have shortened for generational reasons, pet life spans have lengthened, requiring more care, and pet owners want answers and quality care. However, the vast majority of colleges of veterinary medicine cannot, perhaps due to facility lim- itations, or will not, in some cases, grow fast enough. As for veterinary nurses, the profession knows that the majority of practices are not using creden- tialed vet techs to even 50 percent of their capacity (based upon their training and expertise), so turnover rates get worse and the average vet tech leaves the profession after six years. Nothing is happening except the Veterinary Nurse Initiative, which some veterinarians and trade associations have chal- lenged out of fear that veterinarians might have to pay their staffs higher salaries. That seems like a fair trade if the title and expertise of vet techs are better understood, and better valued, by pet owners. Who Will Take the Lead? That's where we are in 2019. Veterinary colleges (except for a few), veterinary accrediting bodies and many veterinary associations are not prepared to lead on this issue, perhaps comfortable with current levels of supply. But pet owners won't wait forever, nor should we deny young Americans the opportunity to pursue professions they desire and serve a growing pet population needing veterinary care. Animal health companies have a powerful stake in this issue and its solution. Pharmaceutical man- ufacturers, pet nutrition suppliers, distributors, diagnostic and tech- nology platforms, and veterinary practice groups cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and wait for veter- inary associations and colleges, or their accreditors, to take action. There's no need for further de- bate about veterinary overpopula- tion. It's time to decide what we're going to do about the shortages of veterinarians and vet techs. General practices, specialty hospitals, emergency clinics — you name it and the problem is the same. We do not have enough veterinarians. The NAVC and guavaVet introduce the first-ever veterinary recruitment app connecting job seekers directly with employers at lightning speed. Find highly qualified candidates, whether you're hiring for a permanent, temporary staff or student position. Visit now and post FREE through February 28, 2019 with coupon code: HIRING. Find Qualified Veterinary Professionals Without Chasing Your Tail

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