Have you been waiting longer than usual for an open appointment with your veterinarian or been unable to access after-hours services for your horse? The shortage of equine veterinarians in the U.S. is likely the cause. Many veterinary practices have too few horse doctors to service all their clients.
Why? Only about 6% of new veterinary graduates annually enter equine practice. After five years, 50% of these young veterinarians leave for small animal practice or quit veterinary medicine altogether. The primary reasons are the personal demands of the profession and equine practice’s lower starting salaries. Many new veterinarians begin their career with more than $200,000 in student loan debt, making an equine position with lower compensation often unthinkable. When financial concerns are combined with the always present demands of emergency coverage, many equine veterinarians choose to leave for a healthier way of life.
The good news is that the AAEP along with private veterinary practices and veterinary schools are addressing the pain points which have led to the current crisis. But the solution is complex and will require the support and collaboration of every person in the equine industry — including horse owners. As we work to improve the profession for current and future veterinarians, you have a huge role to play in the much-needed transformation of equine practice. Horse doctors look forward to working together with you for the good of the horse and the sustainability of veterinary care!