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Lyon College Veterinary School could be solution for Arkansas veterinarian shortage

A nationwide veterinarian shortage is hitting some clinics in Arkansas— a problem that only got worse during the pandemic.

BRYANT, Ark. — A nationwide Veterinarian shortage has now made its way to the Natural State— and according to the Arkansas Veterinary Medical Association, this is a problem that only got worse during the pandemic. 

"There's certainly a noticeable change, a noticeable decrease in the number of veterinarians available," Dr. Paul Noble said.

Dr. Paul Noble explained that though he's not currently searching for vets to join his team at Bryant Veterinary Clinic, he knows that finding them can be a challenge. 

"Through word of mouth. Yes, I've heard that it's relatively hard to find," Dr. Noble said.

Dr. Noble also explained that he especially notices the problem when he tries to take vacations. 

"It is hard to find relief that's harder than it was," he said.

He said that some people even had to come out of retirement to help out. 

"A friend of theirs might have needed help, you know, which they didn't anticipate. And they're glad to do it on a short-term basis," he said.

According to the Arkansas Veterinary Medical Association, there are lots of reasons for the shortage, which include more vets retiring or even some that have chosen to work fewer hours.

"There may be some now, more so than when I started years ago, that are looking more for part-time work instead of full-time. And so that's part of it," he said.

He went on to explain that the demand is higher now. 

"People are willing to do so much more for their pets, it means that there's just more things to do. So that we need more of us to do those things," he said.

Lyon College has plans to bring a veterinary school to Little Rock in the Heifer International building, and Lyon's President said this could help keep more Arkansans in the state working as vets after graduation. 

"When they go to these professional schools, they tend to stay and practice where they trained," Melissa Taberner said.

Taberner said the school will fill a big need because Arkansas doesn't have its own veterinary medical school. 

"It made a lot of sense for us, Lyon College, and our partners in Little Rock to think about what are the things that we could do to help alleviate some of these stressors in the industry.  And the clearest thing is to support veterinary education in Arkansas," Taberner said.

Though there's no set date for when the Lyon Veterinary School will open just yet, Taberner expects to start enrolling students in the next 2 to 3 years.


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