The shortage of veterinarians is not only felt in the Bay Area but nationwide as well. While the effects of the pandemic are slowly being lifted, those in the profession are still having a hard time. Stress in their workload remains high due to new workflows, operating procedures, and safety protocols brought about by the pandemic.
One proposal being studied is the use of telemedicine. Mark Cushing, founder, and CEO of the Animal Policy Group is a proponent of this solution and says, “The access to care issue is acute for people who don’t have a vet.” Cushing said that the new pet owners and those without a veterinarian could benefit from telemedicine by getting some basic advice.
Dr. Scarlett agrees, saying telemedicine could greatly reduce the challenges, adding that roughly 80% of the emergencies they receive are not considerably critical.
Others disagree though with this proposal. Dr. Karl Jandrey from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine said that veterinary telehealth cannot establish client-patient relationships merely by telephone or other electronic means.
Jandrey also differs from Cushing’s suggestion to increase veterinary school sizes and giving more responsibilities to veterinary technicians. He said, “It would require a whole new school, whole new licensing, and a whole new think of the veterinary profession.”
In the meantime, pet owners would just have to deal with the situation with lots of patience until a practical solution comes up.