Livestock producers' views on accessing food-animal veterinary services: implications for student recruitment, training, and practice management.J Vet Med Educ. 2009 Spring; 36(1):30-8.JV
Nationally, shortages of food-animal veterinary practitioners have been projected over the next several years. The purpose of this study was to ascertain livestock producers' perceptions on access to veterinary services and to measure opinions on potential solutions to access problems. Data for the study were from a 2006 survey of livestock producers in Tennessee. The study found that the majority of livestock producers had not perceived problems in obtaining veterinary services during the past year. Among those who had, the problems most commonly cited were a delay in obtaining services; that the veterinarian would treat the animal only if the producer transported it to the veterinary facility; and that the cost of the veterinary service was too high relative to the value of the animal. While it was hypothesized that producers who experienced a problem would have smaller farms on average and would reside in counties with lower numbers of large- or food-animal veterinarians, the results did not support this hypothesis. Among those who perceived a problem, scholarship programs to encourage veterinary students to specialize in large- or food-animal care and greater availability of veterinary technicians to perform health care services were viewed as effective ways to alleviate access problems. Financial incentives for veterinarians to locate in rural areas were also viewed as effective. While shortages have been predicted nationally, data from this survey do not suggest a perceived shortage in Tennessee. Problems in obtaining services appear to be more closely related to practice management and availability of large-animal practitioners in dairy and equine medicine.