My guest today is Dr. Denny French, a second-generation large animal veterinarian from the midwest United States. He was a professor at Louisiana State University (LSU) School of Veterinary Medicine for 30 years. In 2009, he migrated back to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine as a professor and head of the Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine. He presently is a co-owner of a private large animal practice.
I met Denny a few years back, sitting at a kitchen table at a mutual friend’s home outside Shreveport, LA. I asked him how many students were graduating from his school that year. He said 119. I then asked him how many of those were good horse vets. He scrunched up his face and questioned me, “Good?” Then, with only a slight pause, he said, “I can say two. And with a lot of work, maybe another two.” This statistic aligns with the current official 1.4% of all students in the United States becoming equine veterinarians. However, the worse news is that half of these will leave in the first five years of practice.
I have written about this equine veterinary shortage and made the podcast “Houston, We Have A Problem.” Unfortunately, this is a crisis for horse owners, especially in rural areas. Because of this, I wanted a different perspective from someone involved in academia and the selection process of future veterinarians. Dr. French offers his thoughts in this casual conversation.