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April 01, 2020

Report looks to future of veterinary profession

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A commission has released a report identifying emerging trends that will affect the veterinary profession over the next generation.

The AVMA and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges established the AVMA-AAVMC Veterinary Futures Commission in early 2018. The report was released in February following more than a year and a half of research and investigation by the commission’s members, a mix of experts from academia and clinical practice and individuals with leadership positions in the profession.

“The future may be unknown, but that doesn’t mean we as a profession can’t prepare for change,” said Dr. John Howe, AVMA president, in a Feb. 10 announcement. “As the report makes clear, organized veterinary medicine can take steps to identify currents and trends and use those insights to determine how we can most effectively lead the profession into the future.”

Medical technology

“Because we prepare new generations of veterinarians, academic veterinary medicine has a special responsibility when it comes to planning,” said Dr. Michael Lairmore, AAVMC president, in the announcement. “Accelerating change has become the new status quo in our profession and we need to leverage that in a way that builds and sustains success. The Futures Commission has made a remarkable contribution in helping us do that, and we are grateful for their work.”

According to the report, the following outcomes could result if veterinarians allow their future “to be dictated by events rather than taking a proactive approach to managing change”:

  • The preeminent role that veterinarians play as the leading experts in animal health care and well-being could be eroded.
  • Alternative sources of animal medical care could displace veterinary clinicians as the primary option for animal health solutions.
  • Primary care veterinary practice could move from a medical authority to a technical provider of commoditized services.
  • Veterinarians could have a diminished level of influence affecting animal agriculture, science, research, public policy, and animal health generally.
  • The profession could be no longer seen as an attractive career option for aspiring health care professionals.

The report identifies the following opportunities “to lead the profession into a more sustainable future by embracing the societal, technological, and environmental disruption that is occurring”

  • The veterinary profession can establish a professional culture that adapts to change, inspires innovation, and builds an entrepreneurial mindset.
  • Veterinary medicine can expand its influence as a trusted leader and valued partner in protecting animal, human, and planetary health.
  • Veterinarians can develop continually evolving, innovative models of education that are competency based and learner centered to promote lifelong learning and facilitate the acquisition of new knowledge and skills.
  • Veterinarians can improve access to care and penetrate underserved markets by leveraging technology, promoting team-based care, and employing a wide range of business models, from large corporate practices to individual ownership.
  • Veterinarians can recruit a more diverse group of top-quality applicants with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences that will be able to imagine and implement different, novel approaches to solving complex global challenges.

The report covers developments in the areas of culture and professionalism, veterinary health care delivery, veterinarians’ role in food production, global safety and security, teaching and learning, and research.


Read the executive summary of the AVMA-AAVMC Veterinary Futures Commission.