Why is animal health economics a difficult topic in the veterinary curriculum?

The elementary reason for this is of course that economics and production is not among the motivations for applying for vet school. But – there are more fundamental reasons linked to the lack of staff competence in vet schools. Veterinary epidemiologists or herd health staff not properly trained in economics may not be the best staring point, but I assume the major limitations  is that staff may not know enough about the economic aspects of the animal production systems. To link epidemiology and economics means that you have to understand the biological rationale of the production systems. My strong belief is that teaching has to start from a clear biological scenario and not abstract economics. A vet student or graduate veterinarian will be able to follow into economy if the biological case is well described.

The challenge is thus to train teachers in economy without losing the intimate connection to animal health and the bio-production systems. Where the “true” economists fit here I forward as a question – should perhaps this be a two-step procedure – that the “true” economists train veterinarians/ epidemiologists at a sufficient level to teach vet students??

Professor Eystein Skjerve
Norwegian School of Veterinary Science


One challenge is also that the veterinary curriculum is already so over-loaded that it is almost impossible to add anything…

I agree that AHE teaching should start from a biological scenario and preferably with practical examples and exercises on herd levels. Also, keeping formulas and abstract thinking on the lowest possible level may be a key element to keep the motivation of the students.
As Katharina points out, the veterinary curriculum is large and diverse. With that in mind, I think careful thoughts also needs to be addressed to where in the study progress topics of animal health economy may best be integrated into the curriculum. For example, at the Norwegian veterinary school a week course in disease control and epidemiology is placed in the same semester as some students have their clinical exams resulting in lower motivation among these students.

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