At the recent 2012 Annual Conference of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, veterinarians, veterinary medical educators, and representatives of the food animal production industry discussed the rapidly changing nature of animal agriculture and how veterinary medical education and veterinary practice can respond. Of note is the fact as farms grow they are hiring veterinarians as consultants for specialized services related to education and management to minimize diseases, address food safety and animal welfare concerns.
Worldwide, experts expect a great demand for agriculture and animal protein will expand the market for U.S.-produced food, increasing the need for veterinary medical supervision and expertise. Dr. Bennie Osburn, interim executive director of AAVMC, says – rural veterinary practitioners will need to respond to this changing dynamic by offering a diversity of services, including those that address the health of all species as well as the community's public health and environmental management needs.
Rick Sibbel, director of technical services for U.S. cattle for Merck Animal Health, pointed out that the veterinarians of tomorrow will need business and communication skills as well as medical skills. A report produced as part of the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium calls for an emphasis on the competencies required for practice. For rural practitioners, those competencies would include communication skills, personnel management, education of farm workers, business skills, and leadership.