According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), equine veterinarians are in short supply, jeopardizing U.S. horses’ wellbeing. Only around 7% of veterinarians become equine practitioners. Half of these specialists become small animal practitioners or leave the profession entirely within five years of beginning their career. 

Compensation, emergency coverage, and student support are some of the areas on which the AAEP is working to reverse this equine practitioner deficit. In the meantime, our VESPECON specialists stand ready to help. Our team hosts several equine and large animal experts in the internal medicine, surgery, and emergency and critical care fields, and we’re here for you when you need us most. Learn the top reasons why consulting with an equine specialist can improve patient care and ease equine practitioners’ burdens.

#1: Increase veterinary specialist access in rural areas

Many equine and large animal practitioners live and work in rural areas, which makes finding a local specialist challenging. In addition, the closest specialty center could be hours away, which isn’t a great option for most horse owners. Travel can be stressful for any pet, especially when they are sick or have been injured. Horse owners appreciate that their primary care veterinarian has the capability of consulting with a specialist. Doing so is a good option when referral to an in-person specialist isn’t feasible because of travel restrictions or the specialists’ distant location.

#2: Learn from boarded veterinary specialists to elevate in-house care 

Each time you consult with a VESPECON equine medicine specialist, you’ll gain valuable knowledge and skills that you can apply to future cases. The more you consult, the more knowledgeable and proficient you’ll become at handling complex medical issues, and you can provide enhanced care to your patients in the long term. You’ll also learn to recognize which cases can benefit the most from specialty consults and when referral to an in-person specialist is in a patient’s best interest.

#3: Get instant veterinary recommendations from a second observation 

Around half of the AAEP’s members operate in a one- or two-doctor practice, which means they are often the only veterinarian in the clinic or are out on calls. A veterinarian in a solo practice can feel extremely stressed because they have no one with whom to collaborate on complicated cases. When you feel stuck, a second opinion is often what you need to start moving in the right direction. By consulting virtually with a specialist, you can get a second opinion, so you don’t feel you are left floundering on your own.

#4: Quickly evaluate complex equine diagnostic test results 

Equine medicine specialists are adept at interpreting complicated or confusing diagnostic test results and determining which additional tests will be most beneficial, providing the biggest bang for the client’s buck. During a consult with an equine medicine specialist, you can send a patient’s imaging, blood, urine, and other test results virtually. Our team member will review the results and provide advice on your patient’s health status and potential treatment options within a few minutes. 

#5: Boost veterinary client confidence

Studies in small animal settings show that clients become frustrated after three unsuccessful treatment attempts to resolve their pet’s condition. Clients also reach a financial tipping point and will seek care elsewhere. Specialty referral can help ease this frustration, and a majority of clients surveyed said they felt more confident in their veterinarian’s abilities when the practitioner recommended referral. Offering clients a specialist virtual consult is likely to have a similar effect, with the added benefit of providing specialty-level care in the primary care setting. By doing so, a client can still rely on their trusted veterinarian while receiving specialty advice and avoiding long-distance travel.

#6: Financial benefits of virtual veterinary specialty consults

Cost is a hot-button issue for any veterinary practice, but the concern is a particularly major source of stress for small, rural practices that serve most of the primary care equine world. When you choose to consult with a specialist, you can handle higher-level cases yourself, keeping that revenue in house. When you consult virtually with a specialist about a horse’s health condition, the patient may benefit by living a longer life. In turn, the horse’s owner will feel more indebted to your practice, resulting in a strengthened client-veterinarian bond and helping ensure future revenue.

When you consult with a VESPECON equine specialist, you’ll also have access to our entire specialty team with whom you can collaborate closely to ensure you always receive the advice and guidance you need. Our virtual platform provides face-to-face, real-time consultations that allow a two-way conversation, and when a specialist can observe your patient, they can better understand their issues. Contact us to sign up, learn more about our services, and connect with a consultant who can help you when patients need specialized care.