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SALT LAKE CITY -- In the past 10 years, the number of applicants to veterinary school has skyrocketed. Along with the positive changes, however, the animal care industry is feeling some growing pains.
USA Today reports that 40 percent of veterinary students are applying for post-graduate positions compared to just 10 percent 10 years ago. This growth has allowed more subspecialties within veterinary medicine to be created.
"Basically, it used to be the only specialties that were available were internal medicine and surgery," says veterinarian Jeffrey Simmons with Advanced Veterinary Care.
Now, however, you see more cardiologists and oncologists. Simmons says his specialty, emergency care, wasn't even around until the mid-90s.
"Up until 1999 or 2000, there were only about 50 of [emergency care vets] in the whole world. There are now a couple hundred and growing 30 to 40 per year. It has definitely blossomed in the last 10 years," he says.
Many of these specialists focus on small animals and pets. Simmons says people expect better treatment from their animal's doctor than they did years ago.
"The human-animal bond is at the point where [humans] treat them as children, so they're expecting the same things you can have done for your children," he says.
But, as more vets learn specialties to treat pets, too few are specializing in the treatment of agricultural animals. Simmons says, "There is actually becoming a deficiency in that aspect, where years ago, that was by far the primary reason people came into, and what they did when they came out of veterinary school."
He also says there may be other problems in veterinary science down the road, but they're a long way away. For example, as more vets enter into specific programs, Simmons says the industry may get to the point where there are more specialists than general care vets, which is a problem that's getting worse in human health care.
Also, as more specialties pop up, it increases the chance for gaps from one part of animal care to another, and more problems could eventually slip through the cracks.