Economics key factor in rural vet shortage

A veterinarian and professor at the University of Illinois’ College of Veterinary Medicine says despite an uptick in enrollment, there’s still a shortage of rural large animal practitioners.

Jim Lowe tells Brownfield economics are part of the problem…

“Because there are better economic opportunities in areas that are willing to pay a lot more for companion animal care, and that’s a big shift compared to what we would have seen maybe even five years ago,” he says.”

He says there continues to be an increase in demand for more companion animal care…

“And today that’s really switched.”  He says, “Our new graduates in companion animal are making 50% more than our pig veterinarians are.”

He also says student demographics are changing…

“Our applicant pool is decidedly urban/suburban.”  He says, “Those students that are from rural areas tend to go back to rural areas, but we don’t have many of those in the applicant pool and therefore we don’t have as many of those in veterinary classes and hence in our graduates.”

Lowe says companion animal practices are generally more lucrative, and thus the rising cost of tuition makes small animal care more attractive to students. 

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