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Major Issues Facing Veterinary Medicine Today

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by halesvet, Dec 1, 2008.

  1. halesvet

    halesvet UPenn c/o 2013
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    I read one of the interview questions from the Interview Feedback pages which asked something similar to: you have mentioned two of the important issues facing veterinary medicine, what is the third?

    Which freaked me right the heck out because I'm not sure I know ANY of the major issues in veterinary medicine today...

    Here's what I think is important right now:

    Emerging and "Old" Zoonotic diseases: their impact on veterinary medicine, public health and the veterinarian's responsibilities

    Education: education of the public to things such as zoonotic diseases, animal welfare, health of food production animals, use of animals in research, etc

    Dog Law: This is a big one that actually happened right down the street from my apartment in Kuztown, PA, menonite farmers shot and killed 80 dogs at their breeding facility because they didn't want to give them medical attention. Because of this there has been a major overhaul of the Pennsylvania Dog Act which states that only veterinarians can euthanize dogs, cages cannot be stacked, cage floors must not be made of wire, etc

    Livestock Law (exact name??): overhaul of the laws dictating size and maintenance of facilities that house food production animals such as pigs, cows, and chickens.

    Thats what I can think of so far. Does anyone know of any other issues that I missed???

    The ISU interview is coming up soon (this saturday eek!) and I want to be prepared if I get asked a question like this because I'm not very good at keeping up with current events.

    Thanks!
     
  2. FlyOnTheWall

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    http://www.avma.org/news/default.asp
     
  3. DVMorBust

    DVMorBust UW SVM Class of 2013
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    It's definitely not from my state, and I don't know the specifics, but if someone from CA (I think?) wants to clarify, I would much appreciate it. I heard something about a law being/trying to be passed that would change the definition of the pet/owner relationship to an animal/caretaker one, which sounds good on the surface and was intended to protect animals, but could lead to lots of issues for veterinarians involving increased suing for emotional damages and such, since animals would no longer be considered property...

    Anyone out there who can help out with that one?
     
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  4. aretoo

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    I just attended a lecture on parasite resistance in horses - it's becoming a huge issue and it's really scary!!

    Resistance to all types of dewormers have been noted. The emergence of encysted small strongyles a few years ago is a prime example. Equine veterinarians really need to encourage their clients to do regular fecal testing to ensure that their deworming protocol is working (but not excessive - many are).
     
  5. StealthDog

    StealthDog U of MN 2010
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    dolittler.com is a great source for following current veterinary issues/events. A few that come to mind:

    -pet insurance- good or bad for vets/pets/owners?
    -lack of large animals vets
    -pet food recall/food safety concerns
    -declawing/tail docking/ear cropping
    -pediatric spay/neuter
    -Prop 2 in California (farm animal welfare bill)
    -changing role of pets in society (from property to family)
    -role of alternative practitioners in vet med (acupuncture, chiro, etc)
    -whether vet students should keep being licensed as generalists, or whether we should get limited licenses (small animal, equine, etc)
     
  6. thereservoirdog

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    I've been wondering what all you thought about Proposition 2. If you go to the respective websites, you'll have vets supporting both yes and no. The AVMA was no on prop 2, and the California Veterinary Medical Association was yes.
     
  7. Moonpaw

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    That's pretty interesting. I would have guessed it to be the other way around, since one of the arguments against proposition 2 was that it would drive the egg industry out of California.
     
  8. aggiegolf

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    No one has mentioned the food animal vet shortage. It's definitely in the top 3. It's discussed all over JAVMA and I read an article by Kansas State about it a few years ago when I first applied to vet school. If I was your interviewer and you were not knowledgeable about the large animal vet shortage, I would deny you. That's how important it is to me and many others. Don't forget to mention it in your interview!
     
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  9. Pandacinny

    Pandacinny VMRCVM c/o 2013
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    I don't know if this will come up, but the Pew commision put out a big report on industrial farm practices and the impact they have on public health, animal health and welfare, the economy, and the environment. It came out in April. There's a link here: http://www.ncifap.org/index.html
     
  10. rachroo

    rachroo OSU CVM c/o 2013
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    So far, I haven't gotten an interview but...

    how would one be able to talk about this major problem and yet say that despite this, that's not where there interest lies? And that they don't have any plans on going into this part of the field?
     
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  11. Pandacinny

    Pandacinny VMRCVM c/o 2013
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    Aggiegolf, what is the role of food animal vets currently? I mean, for the most part, what is their day to day like? Are most food animal vets working with small farmers or with huge businesses? I guess this probably differs by area and preference, but I just don't know much about it and don't know where to look for more info/experience. I've contacted all of the large animal vets in my area and the ones who've contacted me back have basically said that they now work with so few large animals (<10% of their practice) that it wouldn't be worth shadowing them if LA experience was my goal.

    I'd also appreciate any good websites, organizations, books, articles, or people you could refer me to for learning about food animal medicine. ;)
     
  12. cozycleo

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    Definitely the food animal vet shortage and public health would be my top 2.
     
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  13. hopefulvet21

    hopefulvet21 Edinburgh c/o 2013
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    good question, I'd like to know too because I have no intention of going into food animal medicine whatsoever...unless somehow the whole farming industry changes in the next 5 years...

    to help answer someone else's question above, I read that most new vets aren't as interested in food animal medicine because most farms are large commercial ones nowadays. You don't find that charming James Herriot countryside stuff as a LA vet- many work as an onsite veterinarian at one big farm for one type of animal. And many vet students are turned off by going into that side of the profession because of lower pay, living in rural areas, and that most farmers are unwilling to pay for any treatment that would be worth more than the animal (which you can't blame them for).
     
  14. pressmom

    pressmom Third year!
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    As far as food animal vets, my limited understanding is that there are a couple of types. The ones employed by large corporations or large farming operations are actually paid pretty well. They mainly do herd health planning. Like how many chickens can we fit per area, what vaccinations, antibiotics, or growth promoters do they need, what kind of biosecurity measures should we employ? These could almost be lumped into industry. I have no idea whether there is a shortage in this type of vet. Then there are the rural practice vets that service smaller operations (instead of tens of thousands of animals, more like hundreds to 1000, depending on animal type and size). This, I know, is in short supply. These vets are often poorly paid and have to drive a large service area. There is definitely still a herd health component to this (8 cows dropped dead yesterday--do a field necropsy and figure out why to protect the others), but a lot of it is pulling calves, taking care of left displaced abomasums, things like that. One of the large animal vets I rode with stopped doing cattle for this reason--lots of calls in the middle of the night, little pay, etc.--he just does horses now since the pay is better.

    Someone correct me if I'm horribly off base here!
     
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  15. ri23

    ri23 OSU CVM Class of 2011
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    It is important to distinguish - as pressmom did - the difference. Poultry and Swine specialists (board certified) are some of the highest paid vets. General LA vets are typically poorly paid, live in rural areas (a negative for many people) and have terrible hours (have to handle all of their own emergencies); hence the shortage.
     
  16. alliecat44

    alliecat44 KSU CVM Class of '11
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    I'd say all of the above-mentioned issues are incredibly important and right on. A couple that I'd add:

    -the growing disparity between tuition and salary for the majority of veterinarians--soon, nobody but the wealthy is going to be able to afford veterinary school. Because academics are paid so much less than private specialists, vet schools are having extreme difficulty attracting and retaining talent to teach the next generation of veterinarians. (A specialist in academia usually makes about half to two-thirds as much as one in private practice, depending on the specialty/area.) This wouldn't seem like a problem to you until you consider paying back $200,000+ in school loans...and you realize that even if you want to, you can't afford to take a vet school faculty position. Who will be training our future vets?

    -second, third, fourth the LA vet shortage. I'll add also that veterinarians are the pretty much the first line of defense when it comes to bioterrorism. A report released today by a congressional committee indicates that an attack of massive proportions (larger than 9/11) is very likely by 2013, and that it is more likely to be of a bioterror nature than nuclear. The food supply is a prime terrorist target.
     
  17. aggiegolf

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    Great point. If we have a Foot and Mouth disease outbreak, we better have some guys and gals on board who know how to fix this problem!
     
  18. aggiegolf

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    Food animal vets have multiple roles and you are right that it depends on your area of expertise. For general practice vets it's mostly focused on herd health, unlike individual health that we typically see in small animal practice. If you go to the USDA website and search for APHIS (Animal Plant Health Inspection Service), you should be able to find some good info. For example, they post a monthly and yearly update on the Brucellosis Eradication Program, and large animal vets play a big role in this program. You can become a "brucellosis epidemiologist" and take courses each year to remain in the program.

    And there's also some large animal vets that consult with dairy herds to calculate food rations. It's a lot of math and I never could get all of the calculations right but you can make some good money if you do this.

    Hope this helps!
     
  19. Barnaby

    Barnaby Colorado State PVM 2013
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    Not necessarily an issue to the field at large.... but a worldwide issue that veterinarians are key in confronting:

    conservation.

    How do you feel about that answer?

    My list (compiled from others' answers) would be:
    1. Lack of large animal vets (a threat to aspects of the field, the economy, the food supply, and national security)

    2. The spread of zoonoses

    3. Funding a veterinary education (retaining academics to teach, ensuring that we don't cut down on education to save dollars, along with this is the inherent argument about limited licensure vs. learning it all)

    4. Conservation- not sure where I rank it on the list at the present juncture.
     
    #19 Barnaby, Dec 3, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2008
  20. HopefulAg

    HopefulAg Texas A&M CVM c/o 2014!
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    I'd just say something along the lines of, while you don't currently have an interest in food animal medicine, you're aware that a lot of students change their focus in vet school and may follow a similar path.
     
  21. Pandacinny

    Pandacinny VMRCVM c/o 2013
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    Thanks for the info on food animal vets, guys! I'd love to have more experience in this area, but am having trouble finding any. My family has a few cows and keeps a couple of pigs, but nothing terribly exciting. If anyone knows of a good place to work/volunteer with large animals in Maryland, let me know! :D
     
  22. DollyyLlama

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    hey, i'm surfing the net for stuff that i can draw on during interviews.

    this is a summary of what all the vet schools are doing to address the shortage of farm animal vets, reported by the schools to the AAVMC. might be worth seeing what a given school is doing, so even if you don't intend to go into the field, you can say something like "given the vet shortage, i think it's great that [blank] school has implemented [blank] program to address the problem."
    http://www.avma.org/fsvm/aavmc_incentive_programs.pdf

    i haven't read through this yet, but it's the AVMA's positions on welfare issues. if you want to be diplomatic when discussing an issue so as not to alienate anyone, this is the party line:
    http://www.avma.org/products/animal_welfare/welfare.pdf
     
  23. ShelterGirl

    ShelterGirl UC Davis SVM 2012
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    Two things I keep hearing about in various places -

    1. Public health (also sometimes called "one health") - interdependencies between MD/DVM/PhD fields of expertise
    2. The economic crisis - seeing higher #s of ethical dilemmas with people not being able to afford veterinary care or even afford their pets at all ... ties into other issues such as horse slaughter too
     
  24. HopefulAg

    HopefulAg Texas A&M CVM c/o 2014!
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    Oh wow. Nice find!
     
  25. Jochebed

    Jochebed Ye Must Be Born Again
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    I think many of the points made already are really great. Something that I think is really important that has only been slightly touched on so far is animal rights stuff and the difference between "feelings" and "science". This is the connection between the points made about tail docking/ear cropping, etc, Proposition 8, the changing role of pets in society. More and more the animal-related laws being proposed or passed in this country are being made by people with little or no direct animal experience. They see a picture of a chicken in a cage, think that looks just simply horrible and start a campaign to get them outlawed. Nevermind if there is science or husbandry reasons for this type of care (not saying there is or that I agree, just an example). We see it on a much smaller level within the veterinary school itself where our animal use regulations get more and more restrictive every year and we are often only allowed to perform a procedure on an animal ONCE, despite the fact that we are in groups of 3 and 2 of us WON'T get to learn how to perform that procedure. I mean, we all learn a lot of things the hard way come 4th year, but boy I would have liked to pass the equine nasogastric tube just ONCE so I'd have a better idea what I'm doing in the future.

    The bottom line is that many many animal use laws are being passed based on emotional gut reactions to a situation, with little or NO consideration of the science behind it. It is something we face constantly as veterinary students in vet school and certainly will face more and more in practice too.
     
  26. EqSci

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    Great links Dollyyllama, thanks!
     
  27. InfiniVet

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    Just to reassure y'all:

    You don't have to be experts on any of these issues or anything.
    The point of it is to make sure you are aware that issues exist, that you are familiar enough with the field to have this awareness....thus weeding out the "I had a puppy picture calendar once, it was so cute that I applied to vet school" applicants.

    It may not even come up in your interview :)

    But, the top news stories on the JAVMA website are always a safe bet.
    http://www.avma.org/onlnews/default.asp
     
  28. HopefulAg

    HopefulAg Texas A&M CVM c/o 2014!
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    Just adding another thing. It was announced recently (today I think) that KSU was selected as the next Plum Island. So for those that might want to do research and are applying to KSU, that might be something you want to bring up. Let them know you're in tune with what's going on.

    Or for those that just want to bring it up for the same reason. It's an interesting step, if for nothing more than what it'll do to Kansas' economy.
     
  29. thelarson

    thelarson MSU Pre-Vet Class of 2010
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    I think, as others have mentioned, all the changes in legislation relating to animals. Prop 2 in California is a big one, but how about the ban on horse slaughter? We've talked about it extensively in courses and the impacts it is having on the horse industry - no baseline value for horses anymore, welfare concerns in shipping horses to Mexico for slaughter and their methods being less than humane, and an increased demand for euthanasia when people can't afford to keep their horses, can't sell them, and no longer have selling for slaughter as an option (which used to bring in at least $200-$300 for a horse). My friend bought SIX horses for $30 at an auction recently - that's how desperate people are to get rid of horses they can't afford to feed. So an ethical dilemma arises for vets when they're asked to euthanize a horse that is perfectly healthy, but the owners can't afford upkeep; if the vet won't do it, you can be pretty sure a lot of owners just take the horse behind the barn with a .22 and do it themselves, or will simply neglect the horse when they don't have the means to care for it.
     
  30. CatVet2Be

    CatVet2Be OSU CVM c/o 2013
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    I asked the vets at my clinic to see what they'd answer and here's a few:

    Prop 2
    Declawing, tail docking, dewclaws
    counties trying to pass legislations on the above mentioned
    counties trying to pass mandatory spay/neuter laws
    Zoonotic diseases
    After 9/11 the possibility of terrorism involving our food animals
    counties banning certain breeds of dogs
    the economic crisis
    In California, Schwarzenneger proposing a 9% tax on veterinary services and mechanics. Imagine equating necessary health care to repairing an engine:thumbdown:
     
  31. Pandacinny

    Pandacinny VMRCVM c/o 2013
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    Hey, guys, I don't know if you've seen this already, but VIN has a vet news site up. They have at least a couple of articles on the financial crisis and the vet tax in California.

    http://news.vin.com
     
  32. autumnmuse

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    Wow, what a great thread!

    The financing our education one is the one that of course hits closest to home for me. I was telling my parents about the cost of school versus the salary afterwards and they basically went from being all happy and supportive that I wanted to go back to school, to suddenly saying I was crazy and why would I want to do something so terrible to my family? They think I'm insane for picking vet med over human med, and I probably am ;). But as I'm sure most of you can relate, I just have ZERO desire to work with human patients. I don't mind interacting with animal owners, I just don't want to be seeing naked human butts on a daily basis, KWIM?
     
  33. sambone

    sambone Cornell 2013
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    Pandacinny - VIN is awesome - THANKS!
     
  34. bclover

    bclover UIUC-CVM Class of 2012
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    Okay, I haven't read all of the posts on this, so forgive me if it is repetitive, but the shortages of ALL vets is a very big deal. By the time my class graduates (2012) there is an expected need for approx. 28,000 new vets, but each class year only yields about 2,500. Unfortunately the fix is not easy as most schools are maxed out in class size, and the current state of the economy doesn't bode well for new schools coming on line. (On a positive note, it does suggest job security :D)
     
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  35. autumnmuse

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    You would think that simple economics of supply and demand would cause our salaries to shoot way up there, which would compensate for the rising cost of school.

    Hey, a girl can dream right?
     
  36. alliecat44

    alliecat44 KSU CVM Class of '11
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    Sadly, it doesn't work that way in vet med. The upper limit of what clients are willing to pay for veterinary care is what determines the actual demand--and our salaries.
     
  37. thesonofdarwin

    thesonofdarwin UPenn 2012
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    This is a great point, although I don't think I'd have heeded the 'Don't Panic!' reassurance either. There is a good chance you'll be asked either directly or something related to major issues in the field. You all are doing well collecting a general list - try to know at least the main point(s) of those that you can. It'll help you in the future to know these anyway, but also because some schools like to ask very specific questions... they'll choose the issue for you and ask your opinion on it. Obviously you can't know everything, but try to know where you stand ahead of time generally speaking (animal welfare, food animals, research animals, etc.) so if you need to ask for clarification on an issue you can respond in a clear manner rather than being blindsided.

    There is rarely a right or wrong answer! They want to know that you've genuinely given thought about issues you very well many be faced with in your career. They want people who know what they are getting in to (surprise!).

    I personally did one of the big no-no's that other students warn about and vets will tell you to avoid even bringing up or siding yourself with. I was asked a question of where I stood on the issue of animal rights v. animal welfare. Quite obviously I don't take the traditional veterinary stance. I knew luck would strike me wrong, so I prepared ahead of time for such a question. Do I lie and present to the committee someone other than myself because I 'know' what they want to hear or should I be honest, presenting myself truthfully and openly. I chose the latter - risking rejection over falsely representing myself. I presented both topics of which are some of the few things I can really speak intellectually about and my "controversial" (is it?) stance. They didn't necessarily agree with me, but I responded to their questions in a manner that represented I had given some thought to it.

    Ok, enough with my boring story. Some things to add to the list:

    **Veterinary reporting on animal abuse cases
    - You'll learn that an overwhelming majority of veterinarians will actively distance themselves from reporting abuse cases even though many states protect their breaking confidentiality to make a "good faith" report and even though the public believe that above all else veterinarians are going to be actively looking out for the well being of animals

    **Add on to the list of medically unnecessary procedures (except in those cases where it is): convenience euthanasias - a very relevant issue that all veterinarians are faced with.

    Good luck with the interviews! :)
     
  38. david594

    david594 The-OSU CVM c/o 2013
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    But if your a workaholic, you should be able to find yourself some relief work to make extra money.
     
  39. hopefulvet21

    hopefulvet21 Edinburgh c/o 2013
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    wait if each class year yield 2500 and theres some 28 schools not counting international ones, doesn't that produce an excess of vets if 28,000 are needed? Or does the number of vets retiring outweigh the number of new graduates by a very considerable amount? Or are you just referring to your state?
     
  40. rachroo

    rachroo OSU CVM c/o 2013
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    I don't know if I'm understanding your question correctly, but I think the previous poster meant that 2500 people graduate per year (that includes the total for all 28 vet schools).

    2,500 (total grads)/ 28 (US schools)= 89.3 students per school per year

    ~89 people per year at each school sounds like a valid average considering the class sizes range when combining a range of schools that have small or large class sizes.

    Therefore, the 2,500 grads per year is waay under the needed 28,000 vets. But, that makes is better for you, me, and all the veterinary school hopefuls when it comes time for finding a future job!! :)
     
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  41. ri23

    ri23 OSU CVM Class of 2011
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    No. Each class is approximately 100 people x 28 schools = ~2800 students. Each school doesn't produce 2500 vets.
     
  42. Truth74

    Truth74 DVM
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    Also, keep in mind that some of those new graduates are not going into practice right away. The ones that want to specialize will take a few years more. We also have a bunch of vets at retirement age, as you said. I think the estimate is based on gradual retirement of veterinarians based on the average age of retirement and career changes. If they all decided to retire at once, we'd be in big, big trouble.
     
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    #42 Truth74, Dec 9, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2008
  43. rachroo

    rachroo OSU CVM c/o 2013
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    Baby boomers?
     
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  44. Truth74

    Truth74 DVM
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    Exactly. Boomers are at and reaching retirement age. They may want to scale down, add a partner, or sell their practices at the same time. There won't be enough of us to pick up the slack.
     
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  45. Rusty27

    Rusty27 Ohio State c/o 2013
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    .
     
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  46. aretoo

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    I know someone who is a paramedic in my area and she said that there is a HUGE surplus of paramedics in the area...to be assured of a job, you needed over 90% on their licensing exams!! (I don't remember the exact numbers but you get the idea). At least we don't have to worry about that!!
     
  47. hopefulvet21

    hopefulvet21 Edinburgh c/o 2013
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    oh jeez...i've been up way too many hours studying math and this is the result. I'll forget I asked such a stupid question....I don't know what school I was thinking of that would accept 2500 applicants per year!
     
  48. bclover

    bclover UIUC-CVM Class of 2012
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    As Truth said consideration also goes to what many industries/professions are facing - loss of 30-50% (depending on the category- anything agriculture and animal husbandry related are at the top of the list) of their current work force in the next 5 years from the retirement of baby boomers.
     
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  49. david594

    david594 The-OSU CVM c/o 2013
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    Ross?


    Cant be that high, but I bet they come closer than any other school
     
  50. OP
    OP
    halesvet

    halesvet UPenn c/o 2013
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    I was reviewing the interview feedback for OSU and I found a question that i dont know the answer to:

    why is the Avian flu more prevalent in Asia that the US?

    I think it has to do with the access to medical attention and the living environment. There are a lot of small rural towns/villages where the people are living in very close proximity to chickens, duck, and other wild fowl...especially the migratory fowl that are suspected of spreading the disease.

    any more input? I really like this thread its really helping me prepare for my interviews. THANKS FOR ALL THE FEEDBACK GUYS!!:love:
     

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