Growing vet school classes key to tackling vet shortage

Ross Zimmerman
November 13, 2023

You’ve probably heard there’s a shortage of vets on the horizon. I’m sure you feel it in your practices, and it’s been all over every veterinary news outlet everywhere since the COVID pandemic pet boom. However, if you look a little closer, you’ll see so many of these articles cite the same study conducted by Mars Veterinary Health in 2021. For those of us science-minded individuals, that’s a bit of a red flag. 

In fact, the AVMA now disputes these numbers, stating that these reports “substantially overestimate demand and underestimate supply.” The big difference maker: a substantial increase in the vet school graduation rate on the horizon.

More vet med graduates than ever before!

The solution to the “great veterinary staffing shortage” may be on the way, at least in part, in the form of a substantial increase in the number of new vets graduating in the coming years. 

For starters, three newly-accredited vet schools will see their first classes of new veterinarians graduate in 2023 - 2025: The University of Arizona, Long Island University, and Texas Tech, all of which will soon be adding upwards of 100 new vets into the workforce annually.

And there could be 11 new veterinary colleges on the way with nearly a dozen universities in the process of getting accredited by the AVMA. This would increase the number of vet schools by over a third, taking us from 33 colleges to 44!

But wait, there’s more (vets on the way). Not only are new vet schools being introduced, existing vet schools are expanding their class sizes! Per the AVMA, “More than a third of institutions have had double-digit increases in first-year enrollment in the past five years,” and in 2022, “the number of first-year veterinary students enrolled for the 2022-23 school year at U.S. veterinary colleges exceeded 4,000 for the first time.”

AVMA News First-year vet student enrollment at U.S. veterinary colleges 2012 - 2023
Image Source: AVMA News - US Veterinary Colleges increase seats at accelerating rate

So for those doing head math, that’s: 

More vet schools + larger class sizes = so many more incoming vets

Will it be enough to end the shortage of vets?

That’s a much harder question to answer with a lot more variables that we’re just not qualified to tackle. We’ll leave that to the big dogs (pun intended). 

What we can say is that demand is still high, there’s no doubt about that. According to a study by the ASPCA, 1 in 5 American households added a pet during the pandemic, and they’re keeping them! Yes, that was in fact data included in the study.     

Hospitals and practice managers will have to compete to recruit new graduates coming out of vet school. So how can hospitals give themselves an edge in recruitment? 

Roo Uni: Gateway to the graduating classes of tomorrow

Externships, networking, and relationships are one way to give your practice a head start winning the hearts and stethoscopes of the veterinarians of tomorrow. And Roo provides this as a FREE service!

Since its creation just one year ago, Roo Uni has grown to become the largest externship matching service in the country and a beloved resource for vet students across all 33-and-counting accredited veterinary colleges. Roo Uni now hosts hundreds of students on our platform in constant search of amazing externships year-round. This means, you guessed it, we’re gonna need more amazing externship opportunities for our students, especially seeing how many more students we can expect to see in the coming years.

By hosting short one to two week externships at your hospital, you’ll give tomorrow’s vets a chance to practice their hard-learned skills in real world situations while providing guidance, mentorships, and hopefully, building career-long relationships.

Not only that, hosting these externships entrenches your hospital as part of the community. If a student has a great experience helping out at your hospital, they’ll go back to their school and tell their peers, which puts you in the conversation. A few years later, when these very same students are out looking for their first jobs, your hospital is now at the front of the pack. 

Granted, the key here is ensuring you’re providing a rewarding experience for vet student externs. Roo can help with that too! We always recommend giving students as many opportunities to perform hands-on work as possible. Perks such as paying your externs and providing travel/meal/lodging stipends also help build good will with students on tight budgets and make your externships more attractive. 

Externships are also an excellent way for students to dip a toe into something new, so if there’s anything that makes your hospital unique or special, you’ll want to highlight that. 

Most importantly, hospitals don’t pay Roo a dime for this privilege. Roo Uni exists because it’s our mission to support the veterinary community, and its bright future, in any way we can. We know fostering these clinic-student relationships will be incredibly valuable to both exceptional hospitals and the vets of tomorrow. 

Beat the vet shortage with Roo Uni externships!   

The shortage of vets is real, but the number of new veterinarians is rapidly growing thanks to a ballooning number of vet schools and increasing class sizes. The vet students of today are the solution to every hospital’s staffing crisis of tomorrow.

Roo Uni externships provide an excellent, cost-free way to build relationships with the next generation of veterinarians, ensuring your hospital survives the shortage.  

Interested in hosting a Roo Uni Externship? Email

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