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WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR VETERINARY MEDICINE?
Many studies are suggesting that each year more and more veterinary graduates will work in the area of companion animal medicine. There will be more specialization within the profession and increasing use of technology and advanced procedures. This will result in more costly care. There will also be more control of the veterinary industry by corporations, who will operate the specialized facilities where the more expensive care will be provided. It is likely that the wealthier pet owners will continue to spend exorbitant sums of money on their pets, while owners with less financial resources will be increasingly encouraged to purchase pet insurance, if unexpected emergencies arise for their animals. 24/7 specialized referral centres will continue to proliferate, as long as their economics support their growth, which will likely be the case. Less and less general veterinarians will continue to provide out of hours services and pet owners will continue to grumble about high veterinary bills, while shelling out even higher amounts on a regular basis. Veterinarians will continue to complain about demanding pet owners, even though it is those same owners who are driving the growth in their industry. Pet food won't get any cheaper, pet accessories will become even more expensive, and our innumerable companion animals will continue to entertain us and eventually break our hearts when we have to bid them adieu. In short, not a whole lot will change for the public. However, veterinarians will have to deal with the effects that the corporatization process will have on their profession, just as the field of human medicine had to deal with the advent of for profit HMOs in the USA, decades ago. That to me will be the most interesting aspect to watch over the next number of years. I advise the public to keep watching also.