Saturday’s New York Times article focused on the high student debt load and falling demand for veterinarians. The AVMA is very aware of the many challenging economic issues facing the profession. This article helps further the discussion about these very real issues affecting veterinary education and the veterinary profession. Many pet owners are realizing for the first time that their veterinarians are not paid the same as physicians, despite equivalent schooling and student debt. Many prospective veterinarians are becoming aware of these economic challenges and will be better equipped to make decisions regarding their future.
We were aware that the article was being written, and we provided information and data to the reporter. We appreciated the opportunity to provide resources to the reporter, and commend him on his thorough research.
Unfortunately, none of the issues mentioned in the Times article are news to us – and they’re probably not news to you either. Over the years, the AVMA has conducted veterinary workforce studies that have concluded that the veterinary profession faces a number of economic issues that need to be addressed and solutions identified. Recently the National Research Council’s 2012 report, for example, expressed concerns about the sustainability of the veterinary profession and a need for the profession to evolve to meet changing societal needs. Like you, we are interested in assuring the sustainability of the veterinary profession, and we fully understand the need for proactive measures to improve the well-being of veterinarians and the continued quality of veterinary education and veterinary care in the United States.
The AVMA has already taken a number of important steps to address these issues. The economics of the veterinary profession continues to be a top priority in our 2012-2015 Strategic Plan and were addressed in the 20/20 Vision Commission’s report. We’ve established a new economics division and economic committees to direct AVMA’s efforts. A large-scale workforce study is in full progress, with results expected later this Spring. The AAVMC founded the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium (NAVMEC), of which AVMA is an active member. In addition, AVMA is a founding member of the Partners for Healthy Pets, which focuses on increasing demand for veterinary services by educating pet owners about the value of preventive care.
The AVMA and its volunteer leaders are working diligently to find solutions to the challenges the profession faces, including many of those raised in the Times article. We appreciate your constructive feedback about what more can be done to help ensure that veterinary medicine remains a viable and valuable profession in our society. In the near future, we will be establishing a section in NOAH specifically to provide more information and discuss economic issues.