Fewer Than 300 Traditional Vets in France

FRANCE - The shortage of vets is a European problem, but France has a very specific set of problems. Like every other French professional body, the Ordre des Veterinaires (OV), sets a quota for the number of students that can go forward for training.
calendar icon 7 March 2008
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This ordinal system effectively limits the number of qualified vets that can join at the end of their training. At present there are 14,777 practising vets registered with the OV, of which 11,379 are primarily urban-based working with pets.

There are 293 so-called 'traditional vets' with another 1,000 bovine specialists. The level of coverage is particularly thin in areas where livestock numbers have fallen back.

The agricultural view is frank: "For the past 15 years, the Order has held back the intake for the profession, so if there are not enough qualified vets in the countryside, the Order can reverse the current policy," explains FNSEA representative Pascal Ferey.

"So long as the intake operates on an ordinal system with a fixed intake, the solution remains in their hands."

At present in France, some 400 students qualify every year, while hundreds of French students go to countries such as Belgium where they can study and qualify. Some 200 veterinary students at Liege, Belgium, qualified and moved back to France last year.

There is another factor concerning the newly qualified recruits to the > profession: 60% of them are women and less likely to choose a heavier agricultural practice. The need for long and strong arms can also be a factor.

Of the country's 293 traditional vets, only 39 are women, while just 120 women out of 1,000 deal with bovine obstetrics on a regular basis.

"In difficult areas, such as mountainous regions, newcomers can be put off by the hardships that the area presents before looking any further," says OV council member Pierre Brouillet.

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