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Shortage of ER Veterinarians hits close to home in Green Country

Posted at 6:30 PM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 15:08:42-04

TULSA, Okla — If you've needed emergency veterinarian care for your pet lately, you may have noticed a shortage of ER vets and long wait times.

Work demands, like odd hours and overnights, the pandemic, the stress of treating hurting and sick pets needing emergency care, and financial debt are all contributing factors to the shortage of emergency room veterinarians.

Dr. Jeff Studer with the Oklahoma State University Teaching Hospital said the shortage of ER vets is a problem nationwide with 731 postings right now for emergency care veterinarians.

"We are seeing recruiting efforts with very large signing bonuses. We are seeing open positions that sit open for over a year at times," said Studer.

Local veterinarian, Dr. Steven Hodges with Oklahoma Veterinary Specialists echoed his concerns.

"It’s a stressful, environment in an emergency room, and it’s not uncommon for an ER doctor to see 15-20 patients during a shift," said Hodges.

Hodges tells 2 News it's normal for vets to work anywhere from 60 to 80 hours a week.

Both Hodges and Studer recommend making your pet's healthcare a priority and not waiting too long to get them the veterinary care that they need.

They also said it's important to expect long wait times at local emergency veterinary hospitals and give the office staff and the doctor as much grace as possible.

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