Regulatory medicine veterinarians have many jobs, however they have two major responsibilities; the control and/or elimination of diseases and protecting the public from diseases in animals that can do harm.
In order to prevent the foreign and transmissible diseases into the U.S., regulatory medicine veterinarians are employed by state and federal agencies to stop, quarantine and inspect animals brought into the country from foreign countries. These vets supervise interstate shipments of animals, test for diseases, and manage campaigns to prevent and eliminate diseases such as tuberculosis and rabies, among other diseases that pose a threat to animal and human health.
Regulatory Medicine Veterinarian Duties
Veterinarians employed at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS), a state department of agriculture, or at the Department of Homeland Security are there to ensure that only healthy animals enter our food supply. They oversee that our meat, poultry and egg products are safe for human consumption via carefully monitored inspection programs, generally along the nation’s borders. They inspect the animals entering and leaving the U.S, to ensure diseases are not being brought in or taken out to foreign countries.
The veterinarians in the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or USDA-APHIS closely watch the development and testing of almost all new vaccines in animals for safety and effectiveness. These veterinarians are also the ones responsible for enforcing humane laws for the treatment of animals, plus protecting the health of our nation’s agriculture through disease surveillance, and preventing imported animal diseases from entering the country and endangering the nation’s food supply. Without them, Americans could be in serious trouble.
Other branches of the USDA, such as the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), employ veterinarians in research, research administration, and animal care within governmental agencies.
The Need for Regulatory Medicine Veterinarians
From recent studies concluded, it is shown that there has been a significant decrease in the number of veterinarians engaged in regulatory and food-animal medicine. At least 40% of new graduates enter companion-animal practice, while 14% enter large- or mixed-animal practice and only 3% enter regulatory medicine. Unfortunately, at the present time, only 17 of the 28 schools and colleges offer students a Master of Public Health degree. It’s important to note that if new recruitment and changes in veterinary medical curricula do not improve, then the situation will likely worsen over time.
Regulatory Medicine Veterinarian Salary
As of right now, the median average salary for regulatory medicine vets is about $95,000. However, with the lower amount of veterinarians entering the field, and with the rising amount of jobs needed, those who are already in the field can expect to see an increase in salary in due time. If more recruits do pursue regulatory medicine though, experts believe that salaries will continue to increase as science, technology and the need to regulate foreign animals also increases.