Low wages, student debt fuel vet shortage in rural Missouri

The young doctor and his assistant in a medical office at work.

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Industry experts say low wages and the burden of student debt have led to a critical shortage of large-animal veterinarians in Missouri.

John de Jong, the former president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, says the scarcity of vets imperils not just the health of farm animals but also the safety of food distributed for human consumption nationwide.

Richard Antweiler is the executive director of the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association. Antweiler told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that expensive tuition means many graduating veterinarian students are forced to hunt for high-paying jobs in urban areas so they can pay off debt.

Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicates veterinarians in rural Missouri earn tens of thousands of dollars less than the national average.

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