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Objective—To evaluate the present and future supply of veterinarians in California, in light of changing trends in animal ownership.

Design—Database analysis.

Sample Population—Human and animal populations, including populations of veterinarians, throughout the United States.

Procedures—Data on animal and human populations were compiled from a number of sources, including the US Census Bureau, American Veterinary Medical Association, State of California Department of Finance, and State of California Veterinary Medical Board. The distribution of veterinarians in California was contrasted with other health professionals in California and with that of veterinarians in other states. Recent changes in veterinary medical demographics in California were quantified and used to develop in-state projections about the supply of veterinarians for the next 20 years.

Results—Although California is the most populous of the 50 states, only 7 states had fewer veterinarians per capita. Furthermore, California ranked next to last among states in increase of number of veterinarians between 1990 and 1995. Los Angeles County had the smallest per-capita number of veterinarians among 9 populous California counties. During that period, California had a net gain of only 6 veterinarians who were exclusively or predominantly large-animal or mixed-animal practitioners.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—If current trends continue, the per-capita number of veterinarians will continue to decrease in California. To maintain the current ratio of 17.8 veterinarians/100,000 people in California in the future, we estimate that an additional 50 veterinarians above the currently predicted increase will be required annually. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;216:1753–1757)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association