The September 2009 Progressive Farmer magazine has an article titled
“A JOB NO ONE WANTS Animal health care is in crisis and there aren’t enough large-animal vets to go around.”
Here are my thoughts on this health care “crisis”
The solution to the “crisis” is not more large-animal veterinarians. The solution would be for people to learn how to work their animals better. It is always strange how we try to solve problems with more of what causes them. While it certainly was not vets that caused the “crisis”, it was the thinking that drugs could take the place of people working the animals properly that has caused, and will perpetuate it as long as we think that way. We think the “crisis” can be solved with more vets using more drugs. When drugs started trying to replace people in the 1950’s, that’s when the health care “crisis” started. Before that there were none of the antibiotics used today, almost none of the vaccines, and very few large animal vets. There was no health “crisis” then in fact very few health problems because people knew how to work and take care of animals then. If there had been the same problems then as now, there would be very few cattle left alive.
The vets are not the solution and will never be unless they learn how to teach people to work animals properly and keep the “crisis” from happening in the first place. The vaccines we have are wonderful and would be a great help if the animals were worked properly so the stress was low enough that the vaccines could work properly. It is the same thing with the drugs, they are remarkable but they also need animals with low stress levels to work properly. With the amount of vaccines and drugs we use there shouldn’t be any health “crisis” at all.
It’s not that we don’t have enough kids growing up wanting to be a large animal vets, it’s that not enough people are growing up wanting to learn how to work animals properly. While trying to get more money to teach more vets and to get more money for them to work in rural areas, why don’t we spend a few pennies helping people to learn how to work animals better? For every new vet that is needed there is a need for thousands of people who know, or will learn, how to work animals properly. The health problems in the livestock industry are very serious but it will not be fixed with drugs, vaccines, technology, or vets without the help of people working the animals properly. If people were trained to work animals properly then maybe being a vet would be a job plenty of people would want instead of the job no one wants.
The article stated that the average graduate from veterinary school today enters the job force about $120,000 in debt. That’s a lot to spend to teach someone how to fix a problem that was allowed to happen by someone that had no training at all on how to do their job properly. If it’s worth $120,000 to train someone to fix a problem why can’t we spend a few dollars to teach people how to not have the problem?
This country has major problems in many of the industries even though we spend plenty of money on educating the people in charge. It’s not the amount of money spent that is the problem it’s where it is spent. We think that every problem can be solved with education. That’s good except we spend much of the time and money educating too many of the wrong people and even educating them wrong.
It would be nice if we had some managers who knew how to do their job and even better if the people doing the actual work got a little attention and education on how to do their work better. For years the teaching has been for managers and professional people with no thought to the people doing the work. This has been done for so many years that now the people teaching have no idea what proper work is, and only focus on trying to fix the problems. The managers and professional people in the livestock industry spend their time and energy on the “crisis” instead of a solution, and up until now this has only let the “crisis” get worse.
If we trained people to take care of animals as well as it was done 70 years ago then the vets could spend their time on things that they are trained for. Then we would have plenty of vets and a lot less “crisis” to worry about.
Billons of dollars are spent on drugs, technology, equipment, and the training of managers and professional people each year, yet there is no desire to spend any of that to educate the workers and pay them enough to keep a well trained work force. A person who really knows how to work with livestock properly would have more value to the livestock industry than any professional does.
When will we learn?