Measuring Changes in the Market for Veterinarians

For many years the AVMA has conducted surveys and has provided a tabulation of the data to the veterinary profession. These tabulations provide simple averages of compensation for new veterinarians (Senior Survey) and all veterinarians (Biennial Economic Survey). Using only simple averages can be misleading because they include the effects of changing demographic factors on compensation. The latest Exploring Veterinary Article, Measuring Changes in the Market for Veterinarians, explains how a weighted average can be used to control for the nonmarket factors, including demographic characteristics such as gender, geographical location, and type of practice.

3 thoughts on “Measuring Changes in the Market for Veterinarians

  1. Dr. Jones is quite correct that there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of job openings published in the classified ad section of the JAVMA over the past several years. Over the same period, however, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of job opening posted to the Veterinary Career Center, the AVMA’s online jobs board. Surely Dr. Jones would agree that this increase in the number of online job postings shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that there is an ever-growing demand for veterinarians.

    The demand for veterinarians represents just one of many factors affecting classified ad numbers. Thus, one should not use the change in classified ad numbers to draw any conclusions about the demand for veterinarians without first controlling for those other factors. Similarly, the demand for veterinarians represents just one of many factors affecting average starting salaries for new veterinary graduates. The article by Drs. Dicks and Bain simply points out that one should not use the year-to-year change in average starting salary to draw conclusions about the demand for veterinarians without first controlling for other factors (such as demographic changes) that also affect starting salaries.

  2. Thank you for your comments. The fact that we are providing these adjustments now is only a result of the fact that we (the economic division of AVMA) have only just arrived on the scene. The classified section of JAVMA provides a great deal of information on job opportunities including the type of job and the location. These two factors affect the average income for all the jobs and changes in these two factors year to year make it difficult to use the average salary for all jobs posted in a year as an indicator of the health of the market for veterinarians. In addition, while the economy is in fact recovering, it has still not returned to the previous growth path and thus the overall demand for veterinary services may not be showing any signs of improvement for some practices. And worse, because of changes in the the structure of the US economy even if the per capita income returns to the growth path that existed prior to 2007 the demand for veterinary services may not return to prior per capita levels.

    To state that there are too many of anything is meaningless with predicating the statement with, too many for what? Too many for the available jobs? There is no evidence (data) of that currently. AVMA will be sending out a survey in the next few weeks to measure both unemployment and underemployment in the profession so that we can address this “too many for the available jobs” question.

    Are there too many so that all can earn an “acceptable’ income? The evidence – the continued increase in the number of new veterinarians – would suggest that this is not true. There is apparently a sufficient number of new entrants willing to provide services at the current levels of compensation.

    Last year 27 bald eagles died of west nile virus and since 1999 it is estimated that nearly $1 billion has been spent on hospitalization for west nile virus and the deaths of over 1500 people in the US – Too many veterinarians in public health?

    In Oklahoma, there are so many non-veterinarians providing animal services that they passed a law to outlaw the practice – Too many veterinarians in this state?

    Last year I was in a county in Wisconsin that has an estimated 30,000 pets that have not received a rabies vaccine – Too many veterinarians in this county?

    I am sure that you don’t mean there are too many veterinarians because competition is too severe for the clients in your area. We all understand that reducing the number of runners in a race still won’t guarantee that you will win. Unless – too many veterinarians means someone else is practicing veterinary medicine in my business area.

    Suggesting that an economist and statistical analyst would “manipulate” the data in support of some cause would be similar to the suggestion that veterinarians would indicate clinical tests are needed so that they can increase their revenues. In both cases, the real reason is to get the clearest picture, based on evidence, of the cause of the problem.

  3. I read the article and it appears to me that this is an attempt to manipulate the data to support the AVMA’s position that reducting the supply of new graduates would be detrimental to the profession. If you want a simplier method to measure the demand for veterinarians, just open the classified section of the JAVMA. Its obvious that there has been a reduction in the ads looking for veterinarians. Compare the number of ads over the last 10 years and you will see a dramatic drop starting about 4-5 years ago. Plus you will see that there has not been much improvement in those numbers even in a recovering economy. This also holds true for California VMA journal.

    You can say what you want and manipulate the data all you want; but the bottom line is that there are too many veterinarians and that problem is getting worse with every graduating class. Please start listening to us veterinarians in the field. Stop allowing academia influence the decisions of the AVMA.