AVMA Responds to Veterinary Workforce Study

Are there too many companion-animal veterinarians? Are there too few veterinarians working in public health, research and academia? What exactly is the state of the veterinary workforce? 

The National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council (NRC) set out to answer these and other questions by conducting a study of the U.S. veterinary medical profession. The recently released findings highlight the changing role of veterinary medicine and reinforce many of the efforts already under way by groups like the AVMA to tackle some of the critical issues facing the veterinary profession. 

Immediately after it was released on May 30, the JAVMA news staff published a story on the study’s findings, and the association also issued a statement. We will incorporate the report’s findings into many of our ongoing strategic discussions and activities that focus on the current and future state of veterinary medicine, veterinary education and veterinary economics. We are also embarking on a national workforce study of our own that will complement the NRC’s effort by further helping us assess the current and future supply and demand of U.S. veterinarians and veterinary services. We’ll keep you posted on the study’s progress.

9 thoughts on “AVMA Responds to Veterinary Workforce Study

  1. Dear Dr. Carlson,
    As the end of your term draws near, it appears that you will depart your post by failing to address/acknowledge the “elephant” in the room in a sufficient and accurate manner.

    Based on the available data, do you feel that there is an oversupply of veterinarians in the private sector?

    When asked nearly a year ago, you stated that there appeared to be an “imbalance”, but that results were needed from the NAS study before we could be sure. Does “imbalance” refer to having more veterinarians than what current demand can support in the private sector? Since we have been discussing supply/demand balance, that would equate to an oversupply, correct?

    Additional queries have led to a series of deflective and circuitous responses and now that the NAS study is complete, you refuse to answer without the benefit of yet another study. And on it goes. What additional information would be required of you to be able to state what everyone already knows but is afraid to say? Should we be surprised to find our profession in the quandary that it is in? Failure to accept, state, and address reality is exactly the road that has led us to where we are today. It would have been far more genuine of you to state that you either had no intention of answering the question or you felt that I was not entitled to your professional opinion on the matter. Either way, address it in an honest and open fashion.

    I find it disconcerting that not too long ago, the AVMA was quick to jump on the “shortage” bandwagon without the need or benefit of current workforce studies; yet when faced with mountains of data suggesting an oversupply, we require multiple studies and even then hide from stating the obvious. Why the double standard? Why is alright to make a statement about shortages but forbidden to state that we have an oversupply? As a dues paying member of the AVMA, I feel entitled to an answer. Do you disagree?

    Had we, as a profession, adequately addressed the issues brought forth in the workforce studies of the 1980’s, it is entirely likely that we would not be in the situation that we are in right now. What a shame! Have we learned nothing in the last 30 years?
    I thank you for your efforts and wish you well in your future endeavors.
    Greg Nutt

  2. @Ron Niedfeldt
    Ron,

    I agree that Dr. McCurnin’s viewpoint article was very informative. It is nice to see someone truthfully comment on the workforce issue while maintaining a strong connection with reality and common sense. Refreshing.

    Greg

  3. The AVMA exec’s and elected officers,who are mostly conservative,have been obsessed for decades about the number of Veterinarians. Rather than allowing the free market system to determine the number and need. We have run several studies to say the market is saturated and there is only a need for a few selected fields within the profession.. Yes we are not paid enough but we are not poor. . The new Veterinary schools which have been developed have largely been due to demand for the education .It is a great profession and I am proud of it. My position has been and still is there are not enough Veterinarians . The more of us there are the stronger we all be.

  4. Very few remember When the Tractor replaced the horse and its effect on the Veterinary profession. Our profession will survive. It will take several years for our profession to right itself. Many of our profession will suffer. the name blame game will not solve the problem. I just hope the leadership of our profession have the capability of addresing the problem. Many will not be happy with their actions.

  5. A study? Who needs a study? Just look at the back of JAVMA and see the dwindling help wanted ads! No one is hiring and several recent Vet Grads are busing tables and working as bartenders!

  6. Some Government Agency comes out with the statement that there are not enough food industry Vets. Those that really know, Bovine Practitioners for example, say this is nonsense. Another Government Agency says the further is bright even for companion animal practitioners. What idiocy! I have seen my income drop almost 67% the past 3 years. All savings gone. Everyones disposable income has all but vanished.
    State funding of Vet Schools has decreased. The response of the Vet Schools, continue building hugely expensive projects and INCREASING student enrollment!!!!
    Have those in charge gone insane? A 1982 study told Vet Schools to decrease enrollment immediately or surpluses would happen by 2000. The dot.com boom increased disposable income across the board so that staved off the inevitable. But it’s here now.
    What is the AVMA doing to help? I’ve not seen any demands or suggestions to Vet Schools to cut enrollment drastically and immediately which needs to be done.
    Personally, I’m disgusted

  7. Recent commentary in I believe Veterinary Product News by Dr. Dennis McCurnin discusses this issue very well. New vet schools and increased enrollments in existing schools have increased number of graduates. The economics nationally has decreased families disposable income and small animal services are paid for with income after fixed expenses. The average family income has decreased by $2700.00 over the last 3 years. That is why client visits and amount spent per visit is down.

  8. I FEEL THE AVMA HAS DRAGGED ITS FEET ON THIS ISSUE. NO ONE DENIES THE ECONOMY HAS HURT US,BUT THE NUMBER OF VETERINARIANS THAT CAN’T FIND WORK,
    STAGNANT SALARIES,CLINICS CLOSING DUE TO LACK OF BUSINESS IS ESCALATING!
    AS THE AAHA PRESIDENT STATED “THE ECONOMICS OF OUR PROFESSION CONTINUE TO DECLINE” THE AVMA WILL PAY BIG BUCKS TO AN ACCOUNTING FIRM IN WASHINGTON DC TO DRAG OUT A STUDY AND WASTE RESOURCES WHILE OUR PROFESSION CONTINUES TO DECLINE.