A Message to AVMA Members about the New York Times article, “High Debt and Falling Demand Trap New Vets”

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.

41 thoughts on “A Message to AVMA Members about the New York Times article, “High Debt and Falling Demand Trap New Vets”

  1. I don’t know whether to cry from the pain of this reality or thank the people who shed light on this matter. I am changing careers to vet med, and got admitted to all the schools I applied to. After reading these horror stories, which are by no means the minority, I am having serious thoughts. I LOVE this profession, but I am not willing to live at poverty level to accomplish this. People to blame are NOT the students. Who can blame a person who has the passion, the drive and the intelligence to pursue their life-long goal? The people to blame are first the schools who are still accepting and increasing the number of students, second (and with great shame) is the government that charges students 7+% even during attendance at the time when interests are the lowest they have even been. Third, are the people who are adding schools like Ross to the list of accredited schools. The cost is $300k for a $60K job with a big fat IF attached to it?? ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME??? I am infuriated at how our educational system is failing. No where in the entire world, do you have to pay such exorbitant costs for education. It is not a surprise that we are raising a nation that can only survive on anti-depressants.

    • Megan,

      I agree with you completely. While I love my profession, I cannot recommend it for fear that future colleagues will hover near the poverty line for many years in the future.

  2. I think it’s wonderful that the AVMA has expressed a desire to “further the discussion about [the] very real issues affecting veterinary education…” But actions speak louder than words, and the AVMA has demonstrated by its actions that it cares not a whit about the welfare of veterinary students. If it did care, why would it have granted accreditation to Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2011?

    As the New York Times article points out, Ross’s attrition rate is about ten times (20% vs. 2%) that of schools operating in the U.S. and its class size is about three times larger (300 vs. 100.) So Ross leaves about 30 times as many students with debt but no diploma, compared to the average U.S. school. Now, it just so happens that there are about 30 vet schools in the U.S. It follows that the number of students left by Ross with nothing but debt is equal to that of all the U.S. schools combined!

    By any measure, Ross University provides inadequate training to its students. This is particularly true with regards to hands-on experience. Ross claims to have a full-fledged teaching hospital. This is absolutely not true. If it had a teaching hospital it wouldn’t have to pay U.S. schools to provide a year of clinical training for its students. Ross has only a very small clinic that cannot possibly accommodate its 300 students. Caseloads (patients treated annually) for some U.S. schools are: 20,000 (North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine), 20,000 (Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of Wisconsin-Madison), 28,000 (The Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania), 30,000 (California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.) The caseload at Ross University is measured in the hundreds.

    Numbers alone, however, cannot fully convey the disparity in the quality of education at Ross compared to U.S. schools. Numbers certainly cannot begin to describe the devastating impact that Ross has on the 20% of its students that don’t graduate. I am one of those students.

    Ross may be a cash cow for DeVry Inc., but it is also a corrupt institution with no moral compass. It certainly does not merit the imprimatur of the AVMA.

    I urge the AVMA to consider its high-minded statement that:

    “Through the accreditation process the AVMA Council on Education is fully dedicated to protecting the rights of the students, assisting the schools/colleges to improve veterinary medical education, and assuring the public that accredited programs provide a quality education. ”

    — Accreditation Policies and Procedures of the AVMA Council on Education

    • My guess would be that someone is profiting from this arrangement big time. Why on earth would you knowingly approve of an unregulated increase of graduates in an already saturated market? Like you said, it is clear that AVMA or Ross or any other university doesn’t give a damn about what happens to these graduates. They needs their 300K a year and the 7% of accruing interest. I think schools, government and the banks are all winners in this story. Why the hell do they care what happens to the crushed souls and bodies under this load? now is it just me or does this sound like a very familiar scenario that turned the world upside down a few years back? hm, I wonder!

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  4. As I await further comment from the AVMA, I am encouraged by publication of “a short history of veterinary workforce analsysis” in the current Javma by Dr. Michael Dicks.

    It appears that our current supply and demand/workforce fiasco has been brewing, according to published reports dating back to the 60’s and 70’s. It is disappointing that no one in the AVMA leadership has had the backbone to stand up and state things as they are. That is why we are here, today.

    It is not that we can close down schools and limit who can sit for boards, but we sure as hell shouldn’t be hiding while the schools advertise inaccrute salary/employment information and mislead a new generation of prospective colleagues.

    Who has been looking out for our profession these past 50 years? Who should be?

  5. Hold the horses. Two different conversations. As veterinarians we should have a sound background clinically, understand the history, and then mentally have a direction where to go with it diagnostically. Yes, there are many different levels of diagnostics at varying price levels. Who should decide what that level is?….The client, after a thorough discussion of costs and potential outcomes. Contrary to my esteemed former roommate’s (the consultant Ross Clark) opinion on the ‘Greatest Veterinarian’, (whose approach to get to a $2 million dollar gross is to only give the client the absolute best in diagnostics at whatever the cost), we need to let the client decide how much they can, will or want to spend. It is absolutely wrong to not give the client options or to take the option to choose away from the client.

    As to the cost of veterinary education; sure it is too expensive. How about going to a two year pre-vet curriculum as we did in the 60’s and then shorten the veterinary curriculum to three years. After 50 years in practice, the tools I use on a daily basis have, for the most part, been learned in continuing education along the way. There is not a great deal of what I learned in veterinary school that I use daily. It was just an outline of what I have to know today. That would save approximately $130,000.00.

    As an undersupply of veterinarians in the U.S. that’s nonsense. Maybe in rural areas but can a veterinarian make a living when every farmer, equine dentist, farm supply, and A. I. technician is selling product and doing hormone therapy, etc. Just food for thought.

  6. Come to this rather late but I was fascinated by the original article, the AVMA response and this discussion. An almost parallel conversation is going on here in the UK as we see a new Vet School announced and possibly 2 more on the way.

    Robin Hargreaves (President Elect BVA)

      • Hi Greg
        Surrey university have announced the opening of a new vet school in 2014. Our royal college has responsibility for standards but can do nothing to discourage new veterinary schools even if there might be a danger of over supply.
        Some feel that it will force graduates to be more imaginative and seek work in other areas than practice.
        There is a clear financial driver as there is additional govt finding for clinical science students (approx £10k per head )+ £9k provided by the student through the student loan system per annum.
        There is a cap on university places or students with lower academic attainment but not for those with higher than AAB at A level. There is also a cap on the number of doctors and dentists qualifying placed by our dept of health so if you want the money as an institution train vets.
        New graduates anecdotaly take 6-9 months to find employment at the moment.
        Perhaps the biggest problem is a shortage of first rate academic staff to teach in the schools which will put pressure on standards.
        My concern is the end game. Having stretched resources as far as they will go a school presumably will fail. In the mean time it is very important that prospective students do have a realistic grasp of what awaits them in the market place.

        • Thank you for sharing. As you can tell, we have many similarities here. I feel for the new graduates, as they have a tremendous amount of stress to deal with.

          While the AVMA cannot dictate the supply of veterinary graduates, they could at least make sure that prospective students are well versed in the current job market and debt to income ratio. Unfortunately, the schools are still trying to manipulate employment and income data to paint a much rosier picture than what exists, and our organization has done little to change or challenge that at this point in time.

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  8. The article is well done and shows the tip of the iceberg of all the problems facing our profession. The AVMA response seems to be “well, we’ve known about these things for quite some time…” Then why have you done so little? If I were a student graduating in the last few years and unable to find a decent job or pay my bills, I would find this statement INFURIATING. Why has AVMA not taken any steps to contradict the “veterinary shortage” and “excellent employment outlook” statements that are on every vet school’s web sites? Why does AVMA not make any public statements as forceful as this article? Is there no decisive action that can pressure these vet schools to stop expanding at alarming rates?

    I am encouraged that AVMA is increasingly acknowledging and approaching the problems. Please know that your members, especially our youngest colleagues, are suffering the consequences of too many years of inaction.

  9. Perhaps part of the solution may lie in an effort for the AVMA to inform prospective veterinary students about their financial futures by collecting relevant stats. This could entail a detailed analysis of each veterinary school: mean and ranges of debt of students including tuition, room, board, books, travel (to and from school as well as to home),etc; percent employment at graduation, 3,6,9,12 months; starting salaries; salaries at one, 3, 5, 10, and 15 years post-graduation; percent of graduates who have declared bankruptcy; percent of graduates who have changed careers (within and outside of veterinary medicine); number of hours worked per week years 0, 1,3,5 post-graduation; and other realistic figures. It might also be realistic to include stats on home ownership, money in retirement accounts, and other indicators of financial security.

    • In addition to Shelley’s list, unfortunately they should also report the number of suicides. That is a real issue lately and speaks volumes about how bad things are in our profession.

    • Shelley,

      That is a great start. I would also like to know what the AVMA thinks about some of the schools using internship status in reporting employment rates but leaving them out when reporting starting salary.

      That is unethical in my opinion.

    • Thanks Shelley.

      Step one is to gather some credible statistics regarding what’s going on with our grads after graduation. As far as I know, no one but Dr. Eden Myers is doing this.

      Step two is to share that information with prospective students. I know how scary this is for everyone – especially the schools with their annual decreases in state funding and growing need for tuition dollars. However, the same problems with oversupply and limited jobs exist with students enrolling in law schools. Because of this, many already are decreasing their class sizes. Just Google this topic and see what they are doing!

      It is clearly easier for them to reduce faculty and fill their lecture halls with fewer people than for veterinary schools to do the same. After all, law schools do not have the massive costs of the clinical portion of an education that we have in our profession. We can’t arrive at the quick savings that they can when our profession requires entire teaching hospitals and research centers with huge fixed costs for their facilities as well as competitive salaries and benefits for the clinicians and support staff who are essential to educate and train our graduates.

      Nonetheless, an overeducated public with thousands, maybe millions of Americans, who can’t find jobs that allow them to survive with their educational loans, (that are unlikely to be repayable in their lifetimes), is not good for self esteem, will not be beneficial to our society, will never allow them to buy homes or save for retirement and will further fuel the already insurmountable Federal deficit.

      We are in an educational debt bubble that reeks of the housing bubble and crisis that followed. Unfortunately, I fear the only way out of this is to cut off monies coming from the spigot, i.e., those via the unlimited Stafford and Grad Plus loans emanating from the Dept of Education and the U.S. Treasury. The result is going to be painful for everyone involved but better to incur the pain now than allow the abscess it is generating to burst in the very near future.


  10. I did not look through all the comments so I may be repeating what someone else has stated, but I am a bit alarmed at how more than one new veterinary school is emerging in the face of these alarming statistics. What future are we providing for these additional students so that a few more states can have their own program making the real issue worse?

  11. Nancy,

    The vast majority of people can easily afford basic veterinary care. Whether veterinary medicine is a priority is another matter. Veterinary care consistently falls in line behind cell phones, cigarettes, eating out and vacations for most individuals.

    • The “vast majority” of people can shoulder some veterinary care. When a dog is ill, the situation changes entirely. Veterinary care is a priority for my husband and I, but it doesn’t “lag behind” any of the items you mention; rather it lags behind the three emergency brain surgeries needed by a family member who nearly died. Most of the folks I know will sacrifice for the good of their animals. Mr. Pope’s response is an offensive, mean-spirited statement that fails to take into account the agonizing choices that people who love and cherish their pets must make every day. Shame on you!

  12. Wow. Once again the increasingly depressing reality of our profession is brought home. Evidence of our dilemma is presented, the AVMA’s answer is do a multi-year study and many of our colleagues answer is to suggest we are charging to much.

  13. This is a very good article, and a needed discussion. But this issue does not seem very complex. The problem is not veterinary services or fees. Nor is it about the cost of veterinary education. The base issue is the funding for veterinary education. The Federal government, through the federal student loan program is distorting market forces. The “easy” money that is flowing into the system from the federal government is the problem. The young, aspiring veterinarian just sees a quick easy answer with out fully considering the consequences. The vet schools just want these students and the money that they bring. DeVry has found a way to make a profit from the federal loan program by way of the student. Education costs will rise as more money is pumped into the process, simply because it is available. In defense of these students, their decision is based less on fact and market reality and more on emotion. That is why this lending seems “predatory”. It all seems very predictable- money is pumped in, the cost of education rises, student debt burden rises; more veterinarians are the result of institutions desire for these funds, an over supply of veterinarians lowers veterinarian pay. To compound matters, an economic recession puts pressure for vet fees to go down as well. Identifying the problem is easy, the answer, a bit more challenging. Imagine a government willing to entice people to make poor economic decisions- to get them to borrow more money than they can realistically repay. Well that is the same government that is borrowing money it can not repay. It may not be easy, but the answer is to reduce federal spending/borrowing. Reform the student loan program. Market forces will correct. But it will be a painful adjustment for us all.

    • Your analysis is 100% correct. This problem exist with higher education across the board. Colleges and universities have turned into big business. The fees have far out paced inflation. The burden is being placed on the shoulders of the student who graduate in debt. Some a quarter million dollars or more. I hope everyone really pays attention to this comment.

  14. It is sad that I am reading an accurate review of the state of our profession in NYtimes and not in JAVMA.
    It is interesting to hear that AVMA is well aware of the current problems facing our profession. It would be VERY helpful if AVMA could reinforce an article like this.

    Has AVMA yet stated that there is an oversupply ov veterinarians? If not it should be clearly and loudly stated.

    AVMA should not act as a gatekeeper for the profession, but it is vital to ensure that there is a reasonable chance of employment for graduates that have huge debts to repay. A failure to do this will result in devaluing of the veterinary degree, reduction in salaries and rising unemployment.
    This would also be very useful to counter much of the desire for new Veterinary schools to form.
    The last thing we need in this current market is an increase in the number of graduating Veterinarians.
    The most pressing need is to reduce the cost of veterinary education.

    AVMA is in the unique position that it is responsible for accreditation of Veterinary schools.It also has the ability to collect employment data from veterinarians.
    It is essential that this information should be used as a guide for any changes in accrediation standards.
    There are currently new models of veterinary education that have acheived accreditation.It would be prudent to evaluate these different teaching models, not only from a quality of teaching viewpoint, but also the cost of providing the education.

    As long as there is ready access to federal funding and more students applying than places available there wil be expansion by veterinary schools.
    There is a lot of misinformation that is being used to justify opening of new schools.AvMA has a responsibility to challenge these assertions and provide accurate information about the true state of our profession

    Income based repayment or PAYE are not real solutions to the problem and have the potential to implode the US economy in the next 20 years as veterinarians and other graduates are given huge tax bills that they cannot pay.
    If AVMA is truly committed to ensirng the survival of our profession the main focus of their efforts must be aimed at reduction of the cost of training veterinarians.
    What is AVMA doing to address the issue of the cost of attaining a veterinary degree?

  15. Lisa, Nancy, et al. Am fascinated by the lack of discussion on what should be a major “wake up” to the reality of veterinary medicine and it’s state in North America today. When I first read this article prior to AVMA circulation, I assumed there would be a tremendous response from those in practice today. To me, as a retired individual having spent over 40 years in organized veterinary medicine it seems to highlight the overall lack of awareness of our entire profession. Thank you for commenting and offering some thoughts about potential ways to begin to work oursevles out of this major dilemma. It reminds me of the time when the horse was replaced by the internal combustion engine and the threat to our profession at that time. Today’s dilemma, however, may be far more complex and serious.

  16. I think that the veterinary profession should scale back the level of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures offered to clients. Just because it is possible to do a certain sophisticated diagnostic or therapeutic procedure does not mean that veterinarians should advise this as a reasonable course of action. The veterinary profession should exist to help animal owners to maintain their animals in a healthy condition by using cost-effective, humane treatments. Should animals with aggressive forms of cancer really be subjected to surgery, radiation, chemotherapy etc.? Would it not be better to advise the clients to euthanize animals that have little chance of full recovery? This would be more humane for the animals, and would not deplete resources of the owners. There are many useful functions that veterinarians can perform (e.g. spay, neuter, vaccinate, advise about nutrition and anthelmintics, treat injuries etc.). We should not be in the business of pushing advanced medical procedures which are not always in the best interests of the animals or their owners. We also have a duty to help safeguard public health, by encouraging rabies vaccination, de-worming of pets etc. I think that veterinary medicine can still be a satisfying career even if we don’t always offer the same level of diagnosis and treatment offered to humans.
    If the veterianry profession had lower expectations about what treatments should be offered, perhaps veterinary education could be shorter and/or cheaper, lowering the debt burden on veterinarians,

    • Nancy,
      Please tell us where you are each day so we can have you determine which test should or should not be performed on each patient. I obviously am guilty of offering my clients the choice for medical care for their pets. Although my diagnostic acumen is relatively accurate I can’t tell what a diagnostic result will be without running the diagnostic.
      As a licensed medical professional I am responsible for offering my clients a reasonable choice. NOT offering the choice would land myself in a complaint which could jeopardize my license.
      I do not believe you nor I am responsible for determining what my patients need. It is up to me to give the clients choices and up to them to determine the proper course for their pet and their family.
      You have the right to decline diagnostics. You have the right to select a veterinarian that matches your philosophies on pet medical care. But please, do respect others rights to have what they want for their pet’s care.

      • Lisa:
        Of course people should have the option to spend their money however they wish to and to choose their veterinarian. I merely suggest that that veterinary medicine is in danger of pricing itself out of the market for most people, and that the cost of veterinary education may be decreased by training veterinarians for procedures that the market will bear, rather than all procedures that are possible. Advanced diagnostics and treatments could be available at specialty clinics, but the basic veterinary education (for general practice) may not include some of these more advanced procedures.
        One problem with your argument that clients can go to a different veterinarian is that once they have paid for an initial consultation and workup at one clinic, they may be reluctant to change to another clinic for that issue, as this would entail another consultation and workup cost at the new clinic, not to mention the time involved and the potential harm to the animal of increasing the time before treatment.. So it puts clients in a very difficult situation if the clinic advises the “best’ treatment option, but it is beyond the resources of the client.
        What solution can you offer for the increased cost of veterinary education?

        • Nancy,
          If you develop a relationship with a veterinarian, you will have an idea if this vet is a good fit for your family. You first do this with wellness care. Wellness care is relatively inexpensive (many times is discounted) compared to the diagnostics needed for when your pet is sick. You ask questions, review their web site and/or FB page and make an informed decision. ANY caring intelligent pet owner should determine their which professionals they trust.
          When your pet is ill, you already know you like and trust the doctor or doctors. You already have an idea if they are high tech or low tech. You already have some idea.
          In many cases clients are strongly bonded to a veterinarian and they want that doctor calling the shots for their pet. They DO NOT WANT TO GO TO A SPECIALTY CENTER. They will but they do not want to. They want their vet to have the resources available so they don’t have to go.
          As far as reducing debt for vet students there is not a simple answer. It is complicated when it seems the schools elect to train more students because it is easier for them to budget that. I’m saying that they make money from each student. I don’t know to what extent that is true for any particular school.
          Conversely, if there is not profit in educating the students and it costs $XXXX dollars by the state to produce the graduates, why not spread that money among fewer students thereby reducing the tuition each has to pay?
          So, I want to know which is it? Is there profit (from public schools) for educating students, or is it a loss that the state ends up paying?

          • Lisa:
            In your idealized world, clients would do as you say. But in the real world, many people can’t even afford the “wellness visits,” even if “discounted”. They may only go to a vet clinic when something is wrong with their pet., in which case they are at the mercy of the clinic that they happen to walk into. I suppose you could argue that they shouldn’t have a pet at all if they can’t afford the best possible veterinary care, but that’s not realistic either, unless you want to means test pet ownership.
            I don’t know the answer to your questions about whether public schools make a profit from educating veterinarians. Perhaps someone else can weigh in on that.
            Clearly there are too many veterinarians with too much debt, and I was merely offering one possible solution.

    • Nancy,

      I can certainly understand where you are coming from, as the technological advances in veterinary medicine are astounding. Brain surgery, kidney transplants, stem cell therapy, etc. The issue that we face is that not all clients want the most cost effective treatment and, often times, the most cost effective treatment is not the most effective treatment for the patient.

      Would you have us not offer our clients and patients the best liklihood of successful treatment, regardless of cost? Are we to remove our client’ s choices because we simply feel they cannot afford them?

      Things are expensive and we truly understand that, but my main concern as a veterinarian is making sure that my patients have the best care available. Hiding some of the treatment options, for whatever reason, would be wrong.

      • I do not advocate hiding treatment choices from clients. Advanced and expensive treatments could be available as an option, perhaps by referral to a specialist veterinary clinic with board-certified veterinarians who have undergone additional training after vet school. I am trying to offer a solution to the increased cost of veterinary education. Perhaps veterinary schools could offer the “basic” training to perform most routine procedures performed in general practice, and thereby reduce the costs of veterinary education. Of course, if people wish to spend their money on expensive and advanced treatments for their animals, they should be able to do so. Veterinarians in general practice should be knowledgeable that such procedures are possible, even if they may not necessarily be able to provide all these services at their own clinics. This is analogous to the situation in human medicine – your general practitioner is not likely to do complicated procedures in the office – they would refer you to a doctor with more specialized training.

        • Nancy,

          I am not sure that reducing the cost to educate a veterinary student would actually equate to less tuition, unfortunately. If you take the example of certain veterinary schools that do not have the huge expense of a teaching hospital or research facility, their greatly decreased expenses have not led to a reduction in their student’s financial burden.

          As long as their are enough people applying and guaranteed student loans, there will be no downward pressure on tuition. Now, if the new generation were to have accurate information as to the nature of the job market and total cost of their education; or if the schools were actually on the hot seat with regards to payment, than might just change things a bit.

          All I know is that the schools and the bankers are getting a much better deal than the students.

    • Nancy,
      we have to be very careful deciding what our clients want. You may want a specific level of care that another person would find unacceptable. This problem has its own solution thought due to market forces.If we are providing a level of care that is beyond what clients can afford then we will go out of business.There will always be some clients that the sky is the limit and other clients that want basic care so there will always be a range of veterinary practices that can meet those demands.How many high end practices will there be in 20 years.Who know, but the market will take care of that for us. The biggest problem is the amount of debt that students accrue to become a veterinarian is so high that once they graduate it is almost impossible for them to pay back their loans and survive. The practice owners can only pay a certain salary which is dependent on how much revenue the vet generates for the practice. If the practice owner decides to lower all his fees to make vet care more affordable he will have to pay his employees (the vet) less since he will have lower revenue.BUT the new vet is already struggling to pay back his loans.If you reduce his pay he will be unable to pay back his loans. So you could try raising your prices and doing as many tests as you can on your clients pets to make more money so you can pay your new vet a biggeer salary so he can pay his loans.But we are in the middle of a bad recession and many clients are struggling themselves to pay for vet care so is it fair to charge them more.The vast majority of vets would never consider running tests just to make money-We want to make your pet better and we will always try to tailor our recommendation to what the client can afford. So we are in a tough spot.The debt is only increasing for new graduates so it is getting harder and harder for them to make a decent living so as practice owners we want to pay our vets as much as we can afford. But what we can afford to pay is determined by our total revenue which is determined by what our clients can afford to pay.
      So the logical conclusion is if we reduce the cost of providing veterinary care to our clients, but cant find a way to make education much cheaper we may not be able to pay our vets enough to make a living. No one wins.

  17. This article is interesting, factual and very, very late. Much of this has been a concern for some of the profession in the know, but has not been supported by our associations until recently. In fact, some of our associations have even trumpeted some strange ideas that there is a shortage of veterinarians. Veterinary schools have continued to increase enrolment and tuition suggesting that there is a shortage of large animal practitioners and therefore having bigger classes will provide new graduates with interest in large animals that might locate in areas of economic and agricultural decay. Good luck with that given the high debt load and impossible working conditions that might lead to! This situation reguires rapid and agressive action from everyone that is a stakeholder in veterinary medicine or we are in for a very long time of unrest and potentially the loss of respect of our revered profession.

  18. There is no “veterinarian shortage.” This needs to be repeated over and over by our professional organizations.

  19. I am encouraged that this information is finally being shared with the general public and I know that many of my colleagues feel the same. We have allowed the myth of a “rosy future” linger far too long while ingnoring the unpleasant realities of our present day profession.

    I am disappointed that we, as a profession, did not see the need to share this informationat and that it took someone outside our profession to do so.