UT School of Veterinary Medicine looks to lead the way as vet numbers dwindle

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – According to a recent report, the veterinarian profession will be short nearly 41,000 qualified vets by 2030.

An ailing number was brought on by pandemic adoptions, retirements, compassion fatigue, and more.

“We’re coming back from that but the workforce challenges that happened before during and after covid are still there, so many practices now are limited not by covid but by their staffing,” said Dr. India Lane, the Associate Dean of Academics and Student Affairs College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tennessee.

Lane was one of many people working inside the school to find a way to prepare more vets.

”There are lots of bright young individuals that are applying to our college. We hope to raise our class size in the next few years to try and accommodate more of those individuals and do our part to meet the workforce needs,” said Lane.

The program at the University of Tennessee is a four-year program. Every year the university receives nearly 2,000 applications for 90 spots a year.

“We have seen the applications for the veterinary school increase in the past three to five years,” said Lane.

Victoria Diaz is one of those students. She is in her second year of the Veterinary Medicine Program.

When she completes her degree, she will have spent 10 years in higher education after she completed her Veterinary Technician degree before pursuing a doctorate of Veterinary Medicine.

“Not at all its been a hard step but the timing was perfect the timing was what I needed,” said Diaz.

Diaz knew she wanted to work in the world of animal care from high school on and that kind of love is what Lane is looking to tap into for students seeking a degree from the university.

“Were hoping to tap into either that five-year-old or with grade interest you had in animals,” said Lane. “It’s a career you can do many different things and it’s a career that’s founded on science but science should not scare you away from being a veterinarian.”

As Diaz works her way through she said she never looks back, loving what she does, knowing it’ll be rewarding one day.

“It’s hard, it’s not easy, it’s been a lot of trials but no regrets with it, at all,” said Diaz.