Twenty-four industry leaders have called on the American Veterinary Medical Association to support an increase in veterinary college class sizes and back other initiatives to alleviate that they called an “acute and growing” workforce crisis.
In a letter sent to the AVMA board of directors, the group members volunteered their services “in support of training additional future veterinarians.”
In response, AVMA President Jose Arce, DVM, and CEO Janet Donlin, DVM, said they appreciated “the thoughtful perspectives [of] our veterinary colleagues about working together to resolve our profession’s workforce challenges.”
“The ongoing COVID pandemic has presented historic challenges to society and to our profession,” Drs. Arce and Donlin said.
“The confluence of so many complex issues means that it’s more important than ever to evaluate the entire universe of our workforce challenges and fully consider the impacts of various solutions. That way, when we move those solutions forward, they have the best chance of success. We will continue to collaborate across the profession as we navigate through these very challenging times and provide the best possible support to our members, their teams and our patients and clients.”
The letter was spearheaded by WellHaven Pet Health co-founder and chief medical officer Bob Lester, DVM, and Christie Long, DVM, the head of veterinary medicine at Modern Animal. Dr. Lester is a Today’s Veterinary Business columnist and vice president of the North American Veterinary Community.
The 24 signatories wrote:
“We are chief medical and veterinary officers working in support of our colleagues, most of whom are your members. We work proudly every day to grow, coach, mentor and retain great colleagues. As you can see from the signatories, we represent thousands of practices, tens of thousands of veterinarians and industry partners. Our veterinarians practice in all corners of the U.S. We are writing to offer our help in graduating more veterinarians.
“We were disappointed to read in a recent JAVMA article of our associations questioning the workforce shortage as a ‘temporary cyclical economic factor’ and that ‘adding veterinarians to the companion animal sector is unlikely to address the profession’s current workforce issue.’
“We see the effects of a workforce crisis every day, including delayed and denied care, suffering pets, [and] veterinarians and their teams struggling emotionally, mentally and physically. It’s clear to us that the shortage is real and growing. There are few things more difficult for veterinarians than turning away pets in need. It challenges our purpose as well as our oath.
“Recognizing that adding seats, classes, new schools and additional class cohorts is no easy task, we are offering our assistance. We are eager to partner in providing internships, residencies, clinical rotations, summer job opportunities, visiting faculty, mentors and scholarships in support of training additional future veterinarians.
“We see the current workforce crisis as acute and growing. We encourage you to acknowledge the workforce shortage [and] support additional programs, increased class sizes and the addition of new classes to existing programs.
“The health of our colleagues, pets, the public and our profession is at risk. Together we can help more animals, promote the wellness of your members, and build an even brighter future. We look forward to future collaborations.”
Besides Drs. Lester and Long, the other signatories were:
- Idexx Laboratories vice president and chief medical officer Jason Johnson, DVM, MS, DACT.
- Royal Canin chief medical officer Brent Mayabb, DVM
- Thrive Pet Healthcare chief medical officer Scott Schatzberg, DVM, Ph.D., DACVIM
- Thrive Pet Healthcare chief professional relations officer Bob Murtaugh, DVM, MS, DACVIM (SAIM), DACVECC
- Thrive Pet Healthcare CEO Stephen Hadley, DVM, MS
- Thrive Pet Healthcare chief operating officer Odis Pirtle
- Ethos Veterinary Health chief medical officer Ethos Timothy Smith, DVM, MBA
- Heart + Paw co-founder and chief veterinary officer George Melillo, DVM
- Southern Veterinary Partners chief medical officer Jeff Falone, DVM
- TeleTails co-founder and chief veterinary officer Hilary Jones, DVM,
- Mars Veterinary Health chief medical officer Jennifer Welser, DVM, DACVO
- OneVet co-founder and CEO Audrey Wystrach, DVM
- Pet Paradise chief medical officer Jamie Pickett, DVM
- Lakefield Veterinary Group chief medical officer Mark McConnell, DVM
- PetIQ senior vice president and chief medical officer Lauren Olavessen, DVM
- NVA Compassion First clinical adviser Stacy Burdick, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM)
- People, Pets and Vets chief pet officer Mike Murphy, DVM
- Mars Veterinary Health chief medical officer for external affairs Todd Tams, DVM, DACVIM
- Banfield Pet Hospital chief medical officer and senior vice president of veterinary affairs Molly McAllister, DVM, MPH
- BluePearl chief medical officer Jimmy Barr, DVM, DACVECC
- VCA Animal Hospital chief medical officer Marie Kerl, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM), DACVECC
- Animal Policy Group senior adviser and consultant Eleanor Green, DVM, DACVIM, DABVP, the dean emeritus of the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine
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