The Future of Veterinary Medicine

The practice of veterinary medicine is changing due to demographic, political, environmental, disease, technological, and economic influences. Currently there are inadequate numbers of veterinarians employed in biomedical research, public health, food-supply veterinary medicine, and in companion animal medicine. Consequently, the need for more veterinarians will continue to expand to meet the societal needs in the 21st century.

Veterinarians play a unique role in being the interface between society and animals. Veterinary medicine is the only health care profession that trains its practitioners in comparative medicine. Veterinarians are essential health care providers because of their concern for animal health and well-being. Veterinarians represent several prime characteristics including compassion, expertise, humaneness, judgment, care, and understanding.

In the immediate future veterinarians are needed to help society face the following potential challenges: a pandemic disaster, new world of genetically modified species, global warming issues, and emergence of new diseases. Consequently future veterinarians need skills in non-science or animal areas such as leadership, ethics, business management, law, crisis management, cultural competencies, and the ability to filter and transmit information.

Veterinary medical education building on a core of common medical studies will need to provide training in multiple areas of professional focus including:

  • Foreign animal diseases
  • Non traditional animals
  • Species specialists
  • Small companion animals
  • Food production animals
  • Public health
  • Aquatic animals
  • Zoo animals
  • Wildlife
  • Laboratory animals
  • Regulatory veterinary medicine

Each professional focus area includes multiple areas of application including

  • Business
  • Crisis management
  • Research
  • Diagnostics
  • Teaching
  • Allied fields such as ecosystems
  • Discipline specialties

The next couple of decades will be times of transformative change in veterinary medicine and practice. This field will continue to grow in numbers and influence and promises to be a challenging one for new practitioners. If these challenges interest you, go for it!

Information taken from “Envisioning the Future of Veterinary Medical Education: The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges Foresight Project, Final Report” JVME 34(1) 2007, pp. 1-41