Large animal veterinary medicine: A global view

May 2010 Western DairyBusiness

ON THE EDGE OF COMMON SENSE

By Baxter Black, DVM


Baxter Black is a cowboy poet and ex-veterinarian raised in New Mexico and now lives in Benson, Ariz.

Typically smaller, more rural communities have no veterinarian, or at least none that will take a calving call or a horse colic emergency.

Veterinary schools, veterinary associations, concerned farmers and isolated ranchers continue their search for new veterinarians interested in practicing Food Animal and Equine medicine. While we are searching in our front yard it is possible that the answer is sneaking up behind us.

If we look to our fellow professionals in human medicine, it is not uncommon to find yourself being examined and treated by a foreign-born physician. They may have graduated in their native country and/or received a degree in the U.S.

Of the 22,500 doctorates in the natural sciences and engineering awarded by the U.S. universities in 2007, more than half were foreign-born!  According to statistics, 60% remain in the U.S. to work. The majority come from Asian lineage.

Are they smarter than us?  Better spellers? Genetically more able to understand Physics, Calculus, Pathology or the Krebs Cycle? Probably not. I would just say they are more motivated.

To our own social credit, Americans have realized money isn’t everything. Family time, sharing, enjoying life, and dependence on government, corporations or unions as a security blanket, have now become our Nirvana. Unfortunately, even if we graduated twice as many veterinarians in the U.S. and Canada, it would still not reduce our spiraling inability to attract new homegrown DVMs to Large Animal practice.

As is oft repeated by veterinary students as to why large animal practice is to be avoided, “The work is too hard and the pay is not enough.” And, we cannot blame them for wanting to “have a life!” So we have to look elsewhere.

How about organizing a group of selected national universities to teach and graduate veterinarians licensed to practice Large Animal Only (equine and food animal). We actively recruit globally using the same strict scholastic prerequisites but with no out-of-state or out-of-country financial penalties or restrictions.  We would also legislate that no LADVM from this program would be allowed to pursue a further graduate degree within five years of graduation.

You may ask why I think foreign graduates would even be interested? Because they know that on a level playing field they have a 50% chance of being accepted…and they like competition and they WILL graduate.

Is it too soon to be considering such an “almost un-American” concept? The Irish and Chinese came and built our railroads. The Germans built our bomb.  The Mexicans are building our skyscrapers. The Japanese came here and made our cars better.

Dr. Sudesna Bose was grandpa Tommy’s Parkinson’s doctor. They did not think that the work was too hard and the pay too little.

I can’t say if it’s too soon, but the next time you’ve got a wounded horse or a C-section in the middle of the night, and the nearest capable Large Animal Veterinarian is two hours away, you might give it some thought.

FYI

Baxter Black is a cowboy poet and ex-veterinarian raised in New Mexico and now lives in Benson, Ariz. He has written 12 books and recorded more than a dozen audio and video tapes, and is a syndicated columnist and radio commentator. Books, videos, CDs and tapes by Baxter Black can be purchased through www.baxterblack. com.


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