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Shortage Creates Increased Job Prospects in Veterinary Medicine

California Veterinarians Encourage Students to Pursue Careers in Veterinary


SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Now is an ideal time to enter the field of veterinary medicine. U.S. employment opportunities for veterinarians are expected to increase faster than the overall average for all occupations through the year 2012. California, alone, will need more than 700 new veterinarians per year to keep up with retirement and the ever-growing pet population. The veterinarian shortage is not unique to California. It is estimated there will be a nationwide shortage of 15,000 veterinarians over the next 20 years.

"There are excellent career opportunities in veterinary medicine," said Dr. Jeff Smith, president of the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). "As there are a limited number of accredited veterinary schools, we see more job opportunities for veterinarians than graduates. Additionally, pet owners are more knowledgeable about the improvements in veterinary medicine and ask for advanced care for their pets, creating even more demand for veterinary professionals."

According to the 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey, 63 percent of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 71.1 million homes. People consider pets a part of their family and are spending more on them, from food and routine veterinary visits to dental care products and travel accommodations. Approximately $40.8 billion was spent on pets in the U.S. in 2007 compared to $28.5 billion in 2001.

The road to becoming a veterinarian generally starts with four years of undergraduate study in social sciences, humanities, mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics. Veterinarians graduate with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) or equivalent degree from a four-year program at an accredited college of veterinary medicine. After completing the educational requirements, graduates must pass national board examinations and, in some states, state board examinations, and become licensed to practice veterinary medicine.

There are a number of veterinary-related positions in high demand, including Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVTs), veterinary assistants, and veterinary hospital managers. A variety of employment opportunities in the veterinary medical field are expected to increase for many years.

Registered Veterinary Technicians assist veterinarians in caring for animals. RVTs must pass a state board examination after completing a minimum two-year, accredited program in veterinary technology or the equivalent. RVTs provide nursing care, collection and processing of lab samples, induction and monitoring of anesthesia, and radiography as well as educate clients and maintain medical records. RVTs work in many settings, including small animal hospitals, zoos, biomedical research facilities, equine hospitals, and specialty practices.

A Day in a Veterinarian's Life

According to information compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a small animal veterinarian on a typical day in clinical practice might diagnose animal problems; vaccinate against diseases such as distemper and rabies; medicate animals suffering from infections or illnesses; treat and dress wounds; set fractures; perform surgery; advise owners about animal feeding, behavior, and breeding; and euthanize animals when necessary.

A veterinarian working with large animals might provide preventive care to maintain the health of food animals; test for and vaccinate against diseases; consult with farm or ranch owners and managers on animal production, feeding, and housing issues; and treat and dress wounds, set fractures, and perform surgery.

To learn more about employment opportunities in the field of veterinary medicine, contact a veterinarian in your area or visit the CVMA's Web site at

For media interviews with a California veterinarian, please contact Phil Boerner at the CVMA: 916-649-0599. To access past CVMA press releases, visit the CVMA News Room at

The California Veterinary Medical Association is the largest state veterinary medical association in the United States, with more than 6,000 members. Founded in 1888, its mission is to serve its membership and community through innovative leadership and to improve animal and human health in an ethically and socially responsible manner.

SOURCE California Veterinary Medical Association
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