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Shortage of Veterinarians Worry Public Health Experts in US

ten interested in small animal veterinarian medicine rather than food animal veterinarian medicine."

Existing practitioners are retiring and replacement is not taking place at the same pace. And whoever opts for veterinarian medicine chooses the small animal stream.

"It's the diagnostics -- the testing you can do, the hospitalization that we end up doing with the patients, and the treatment advances they keep coming up with. It's very interesting," a small vet points out. The work is indoors and the hours are consistent. The pay is better too.

Food animal vets acknowledge many would rather work in a clinic than travel gravel roads, slop through slush and jostle with 500-pound cattle.

Veterinary schools try to attract students to food animal practices through promises of debt relief and programs that acquaint them with rural communities, but it's a hard sell.

The shortage has prompted the National Academy of Sciences to begin an 18-month study in March to identify gaps in veterinary care and look for ways to coordinate resources.
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