Workforce: What our profession really needs

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Understand the risks of a midlevel position and virtual VCPR

The past few years have been extremely challenging for veterinary practices and teams. We saw an increase in client demand early in the pandemic, and practices have had team members leave at all levels, at least temporarily. 

While we continue to face workforce challenges, client demand is beginning to return to a pre-pandemic norm. As individuals and as a profession, we’re searching for solutions to ensure that our practices are able to care for patients now and long into the future.

What are the right—and wrong—answers?

Unfortunately, some of the suggestions being offered propose significant risks—including risks to the health of our animal patients.

AVMA’s president, Dr. Rena Carlson, exposes these risks in an article published Tuesday in Today’s Veterinary Business.

Among the points she makes:

  • Estimates that suggest there will be a shortage of companion animal veterinarians by 2030 are based on faulty math. 
  • In reality, the number of companion animal veterinarians is projected to grow more than 20% by 2030—even before accounting for an expected influx of graduates from new veterinary schools now in development.
  • There have been calls for the introduction of a midlevel position, but there are no agreed-upon curriculum, accreditation standards, or national assessment test for such a position. This infrastructure would be needed to protect animals and the public, and it would take decades to develop.
  • Claims of a crisis-level workforce shortage also are driving proposals to allow a virtual veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR). But allowing animals to be treated without a previously established in-person VCPR puts animal health at grave risk. An in-person exam gives the veterinarian information about the animal and its owner that can’t be discovered in any other way. This information is critical to support accurate and timely diagnosis.
  • There are effective steps we can take in the short term to help alleviate the pressures our veterinary teams are facing. These include fully engaging veterinary technicians, veterinary technologists, and veterinary technician specialists, and empowering them to put their full skills and training to work.

Dr. Carlson’s article is a timely, short, and critical read for all who are invested in and care about veterinary patients and our profession. Read it now on Today’s Veterinary Business.


Donna Fernandez, DVM
October 04, 2023 Permalink

Workforce Fixes

I am beginning to feel like a broken record but no one that can do anything ever seems to listen. One of the best things our industry could do to provide adequate veterinary services is to have countrywide reciprocity. Why is this so difficult to understand or institute? I know so many veterinarians who, especially as they get older, would like to move to more rural environments or other states in smaller towns but they cannot move because there is no state reciprocity (or extremely little). We all attend accredited schools, all undergo and pass national and state boards, and all keep up on CE to provide the best of care for our patients. Why not institute full reciprocity so veterinarians can freely move without having to take national and state boards all over again? Why not just have a test on state veterinary laws and proof of license in good standing as the method to get a license in a new state? This would allow many a veterinarian to freely move and find those niches that work for them as well as the local communities they can serve.

I have thought this was a…

I have thought this was a great idea for the 40 years that I have been practicing. At least have regional licenses because some states (out West) have some diseases we never see. But that would be a great help!!


I totally agree and have been practicing almost as long as you. Why is reciprocity NEVER spoken of? It's maddening. I have not seen any of our professional organizations, (countrywide/state or local), ever have a serious conversation about it let alone even mention or push for legislation towards it. Maddening!

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