Year of Publication

2008

College

Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration

Executive Summary

Problem Statement:

Does the presence of a veterinary school in a state influence the supply of veterinarians practicing in that state? Citizens and animals in states without a veterinary school are at a disadvantage if the presence of a veterinary school significantly improves public health and access to medical services in those states that have a veterinary school.

Research Strategy:

The unit of analysis in this study is 50 states and the District of Columbia. The study is designed as a cross-sectional analysis of 2006 pet, 2002 livestock, 2006 human, labor, and economic data. The study uses simultaneous equations to measure supply and demand functions. Supply and demand functions were estimated using the two stage least squares model to see if a relationship exists between the presence of a veterinary school and the number of practicing veterinarians. This study examines the ratios pets and livestock to veterinarians to see if variation exists between states with and without veterinary schools to determine which states are at a higher risk for public health and bioterrorism related issues.

Major Findings:

When assessing the supply function, the presence of a veterinary school significantly influences the number of veterinarians in a state. Veterinary salary was significant in determining the number of veterinarians in a state. This suggests if a state wants more veterinarians they should either increase salaries or open a new veterinary school. While specific shortages and oversupplies are not known across states, we do know one of two things is occurring: Either states without veterinary schools are undersupplied with veterinarians or states with veterinary schools are oversupplied with veterinarians. When assessing the demand function, pets are highly significant in determining the number of veterinarians as well as per capita income and veterinary salary. As the number of pets and per capita income increase the demand for vets increases, and as veterinary salary increases the demand for vets decreases. Great variation exists in terms of the ratios of pet and livestock to veterinarian among states. Differences in the ratios among states are not related to the presence of a veterinary school in a state. However, states with higher animal to vet ratios are at a greater risk for public health and bioterrorism related issues.

Recommendations:

Direct federal funding, if available, to states with the highest animal to veterinarian ratios as they are at the greatest risk for public health and bioterrorism issues. Further assess specialization areas such as food supply veterinary medicine, as shortages or oversupply cannot be ruled out in specific areas. Alternate methods of providing veterinary education are recommended for states wanting to expand veterinary services including building a vet school, adding contract seats, or forming partnerships with other states. Further research is necessary over a longer period of time for a better understanding of the relationship between veterinary schools and the supply of veterinarians. Additional research is needed to determine whether a shortage, oversupply, a distribution problem, or none of the above exists.

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