AVMA Senior Survey Reveals Drop in Job Offers, Starting Salaries

Unfortunately, the AVMA’s annual survey of graduating veterinary students reveals that they are getting fewer job offers and earning less in their first year of employment. 

The AVMA is concerned that we are continuing to see trends in both the number of jobs offered and starting salaries. We are continuing to collaborate with the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, veterinary school deans and other stakeholders in an effort to address the issue and to find ways to help veterinary students minimize and manage their debt. For the long term, we are also engaged in a comprehensive workforce study focusing on the supply and demand of veterinary jobs across all sectors of the profession. 

The complete report, which appears in the Oct. 1 issue of JAVMA, as well as a press release summarizing the findings, are posted on our website.

15 thoughts on “AVMA Senior Survey Reveals Drop in Job Offers, Starting Salaries

  1. It is encouraging to see so many comments and responses to this AVMA@Work post. Your passion and the level of interest you show matches the AVMA’s desire to better understand these complex issues and work toward solutions. The AVMA Executive Board, our committees, councils and task forces, and our staff members are working with many others in the veterinary community to ensure that we have a clear picture of where we are, how we got here and in what direction we need to travel to address many of the issues you raise.

    Allow me to add to the discussion by clarifying a few things and updating you on some of the AVMA’s efforts in the areas of veterinary education and economics.

    We are a free-market society, driven by the business decisions of those who believe they can fill a need and succeed in a capitalist society. As such, the AVMA cannot legally restrict class size or the number of veterinary schools. We don’t have the authority, nor do we have the legal right. It is that simple.

    Veterinary colleges are free to set their own class sizes, as long as they continue to meet the rigorous standards established and enforced by our Council on Education (COE). Similarly, the AVMA COE must accredit any school in the U.S. that goes through our application process and satisfies those rigorous standards. To arbitrarily refuse to accredit a school based purely on economic factors is not only unfair, it would be illegal. This would be true whether it is the AVMA or any other organization that has the responsibility of accrediting our U.S. veterinary colleges.

    What we can do, is work with others to try to ensure that we are acting in the best interests of veterinary education and the veterinary profession. And I can assure you that our primary governing bodies, which are composed of volunteer leaders in the veterinary community, have no motivation other than what they think is best for the profession and the association. As a matter of fact, these volunteer leaders work in the profession and have the same stake in our future as our members.

    We agree that this is a time for the AVMA to truly take a leadership role and take some definitive action where appropriate – or make some definitive recommendations in those areas where it is not our role to take action. But if we are going to take such actions or make such recommendations on behalf of the profession, we should do so based on solid data and not on anecdotal information. That is why the AVMA is conducting a comprehensive supply-and-demand workforce study that will allow us to make some informed statements about the current status of the workforce, and, for example, whether there are too many companion-animal veterinarians now or anticipated in the future.

    Our ongoing collaboration with the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges is critical in this regard. We are focusing on day-one clinical proficiency of graduates to help increase starting salaries, and we are working toward finding solutions to the student debt issue and how we can help students limit and better manage that debt.

    We also remain committed to our veterinary students and to their success upon graduation. Our outreach efforts have intensified, and we are finding new and more effective ways of connecting with the students and recent graduates so that they can be part of the solution.

    The Partnership for Healthy Pets, an innovative approach to helping improve pet health through regular visits to the veterinarian, also will help the profession economically. The Partnership and its focus on educating the public about the importance of preventive health for pets have the potential to increase demand for veterinary services.

    We are also looking at ways to expand the career spectrum for students and recent graduates in areas such as public health and research. Both AVMA leadership and our Governmental Relations Division are working with governmental agencies and elected officials in Washington, D.C., to help ensure that these critically important fields of medicine are positioned to meet changing societal and global needs. Many veterinary students and recent graduates have an interest in these fields, and we can help them fulfill their career goals while also helping protect both animal and human health.

    In conclusion, veterinary educators and organizations like the AVMA have a responsibility to build, support and sustain a vital veterinary profession that can adapt to the changing demands and realities of society. We have to ensure that a veterinary education provides an acceptable return on investment, one that fulfills a student’s dream of becoming a veterinarian and one that meets the needs placed upon us by our clients and society at-large. The critical question is whether or not we – and that includes everyone, not just organizations like the AVMA and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges – can provide meaningful input and develop effective strategies to strengthen what is already the noblest of professions. Speaking for the AVMA, I can promise you we are surely trying.

    • Why not have the AVMA COE set a standard that the veterinary schools select a class size that is reasonably sustainable and justify it? If they can justify, problem solved. If they can’t, shrink. Then they will be forced to intensively research the future implications and the burden will be off of the AVMA. It really does seem that simple!

  2. As the Chair of the AVMA Economics Strategy Committee, I appreciate the concerns expressed on this forum. Our profession is being challenged by numerous economic issues, many of which have their greatest impact on the newest of our colleagues.

    The AVMA staff and volunteer leaders are very well aware of these issues and efforts are underway to address many of them. These include the AVMA Veterinary Workforce Study which is designed to objectively assess the current and future balance of supply and demand for veterinarians and a Successful Recent Graduates Initiative which is focused on making recent graduates more financially productive within the practices in which they work, so that they can earn more and better manage their debt. In addition, the AVMA will be opening a new Economics Division within the association that will maintain a constant focus on veterinary economic issues.

    I recognize that everyone, me included, wants organized veterinary medicine to fix the economic problems within the profession today. Unfortunately, these economic challenges are complex and quick fixes are not readily available. Even so, I know that the members of my committee and others within the AVMA are committed to finding strategies to address as many of these challenges as possible, as soon as possible.

    • When the workforce study is complete and it reveals the overabundance of DVMs, will the class sizes ever shrink?

    • i am 40 years into this profession and over and over the same reoccuring theme, achedemians insisting we need nmore vets and the public flooded with barely trained inadequate graduates. cut the number of veterinarians by 25 % (this is the amount most colleges are short in their budgets). insist on two years of intesnse prevet, then pick the best for 4 years of vet school. then insist each graduate move into an internship or specialty training. fewer graduates increases demand. and better training grarantees better starting salaries. high tech and the use of well trained technicians allow a dr of vet med to do more with less. when i started i did my own blood work, fecals and radiographs. now someone exse does it. poof there goes 25% of the need for a vet. no more tube deworming of horses, no more bangs testsing of cows and pigs. and how many linear accelerators and mris’ cam we really support? we have geniuses in our profession but not one man or woman with an ounce of common sence. we are on the down side of collapse, i feel

    • It seems the membership agrees about the oversupply of veterinarians facing the profession. And again I ask
      What is the AVMA doing to stop this? And again the answer is nothing because all they care about is the security of their jobs at the AVMA and that security depends on more members even if those members have a dismal financial future. Perhaps some resignations of the membership will get the point across.
      The AVMA reminds me somewhat of the AARP another organization in it for themselves not for older people. It is basically an organization that sells insurance to the elderly and gets special tax treatment by a compliant government.

  3. Having been a veterinarian for 32+ years, I am glad that I am reaching the end of my career. I don’t know what I would have done had I to live with the pressures faced by current graduates. I hate to say it, but pursuing a veterinary career no longer makes fiscal sense. Sure we love animals, but we have to live. To those who find themselves out of work post graduation, I suggest you channel your veterinary education into another synergistic career path that will let you earn a reasonable living. Good luck and God bless you in your pursuits.

    • Could not agree more. When I graduated I was expecting to work a lot. As it turned out I worked non stop, almost 7 days a week and was constantly on call. That turned out to be the way to be successful in our profession.In my practice there is room for expansion, but I would have to find a committed young veterinarian who is willing to work more than 40 hours if needed. I have not run into that person. Maybe it is because I have stopped looking. The students who come out of vet school do not have the slightest idea about basic economics and what is necessary to run a practice besides providing quality medicine.By the way, how could they when their teachers do not know those basics either. What I have heard a lot from job applicants who recently graduated is that they left their first job after a few months, because they could not practice the quality medicine that they expect to provide. Welcome to the real world!

  4. The Society for Veterinary Medical Ethics is discussing this topic in relation to the increase in the number of new veterinary schools and expanded class size. We may generate a white paper based upon our VETETHICS Listserv discussions and available data
    We also have requested to hold a HOT TOPIC or Round Table discussion at ABMA 2013 in Chicago.

  5. I work all over the U.S. as a relief doctor and have found the same issues all over. Too many veterinarians being graduated and not enough jobs available. Two years ago there were at least 100 plus relief jobs in California alone to choose from. Now only 10-20 are listed. The new vets getting out of school are not finding jobs they thought they would have. The number of veterinarians is growing and not that many jobs available and thus veterinary clinics don’t have to compete with salaries, there at least 10 applications per job. I met several yooung vets that had been out of school for over a year and unable to find a place to work. The Veterinary schools are loosing federal funding so they need to increase class size to try to make up some of the difference.

  6. I could not agree more with Josh and Mei. I went on this site to cite the “Law of Supply and Demand” in a proper Capitalist society.

  7. I could not agree more with Mel. Why are class sizes expanding? Why are more schools being built? There is big money to be made educating more vets, but it is at the expense of the whole profession in the end. At a time when the schools need to pare down and tighten budgets, they are expanding-yikes! The AVMA will lose members if changes are not instituted to strengthen our profession.

  8. This is a troubling trend. And what has the AVMA done to stop the movement to increase class size and building of more veterinary colleges…..Absolutely nothing. In fact in this issue of JAVMA they highlight some character who believes the demand for veterinary medicine is growing exponentially since a great percentage of pet owners do not get veterinary care therefore we need to build more schools and graduate more veterinarians. Gee, do you think it is because they do not want to seek veterinary care for whatever reason?
    As a longtime member, I have watched the AVMA become an organization more interested in its own expansion to
    keep its employees secure than in the interests of the practitioner.