Nationwide veterinarian shortages causing longer wait times for vet services

Peoria (WEEK) – Illinois, like the rest of the country, experienced a shortage of veterinarians.

Many veterinary clinics had to close for one day or open for half a day due to the lack of staff. This spread not only to veterinarians but to other veterinary staff as well.

“We currently have some areas in Illinois that still don’t have a veterinarian and we feel that our state residents are underserved,” said Colleen Lewis, president of the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association.

Lewis said one reason for the shortage was that fewer people graduated from veterinary school than retired.

“The outgoing vets and the new vets weren’t enough to replace the outgoing ones. Also to support the demand we’re going through, “said Lewis.

Prairie Animal Hospital witnessed the effects of the shortage, they were booked for preventive care for almost two weeks.

“Last year we stopped getting new customers because we were so overwhelmed,” said Rachel Kuhn-Siegel, veterinarian at Prairie Animal Hospital.

The restrictions on COVID-19 have lightened for the veterinary clinic to better manage their customers, but it was still difficult to find help.

“On average, it takes a year to find a new vet or hire a technician and train where he needs to be,” says Kuhn-Siegel. “We used to only need four months to find a new vet, it will now take a year or two.”

Until the hospital could find the staff it needed, they did their best to meet their customers’ needs. They prioritized animal emergencies while planning less severe procedures.

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