AVMA Economic Summit: Employment picture improving

ECON_ECON-AlertBtn_215pxl0914A continuation of the AVMA’s 2013 U.S. Veterinary Workforce Study shows that many aspects of the veterinary employment picture are improving, according to preliminary information released Tuesday at the AVMA’s Annual Economic Summit. A final report detailing the findings will be released in January 2015 as the first installment of an ongoing AVMA series of articles exploring veterinary economics.

“The work presented at the 2014 Veterinary Economic Summit represents the first effort of moving beyond the ‘one-time’ workforce study by attempting more sophisticated analysis,” Dr. Michael Dicks, AVMA director of veterinary economics, states in an AVMA press release highlighting the association’s most recent findings. “Many of the past studies have relied on assumptions where data or economic relationships are missing. This summit replaces some of those assumptions with economic relationships acquired through quantitative analysis that uses data gathered from veterinarians in surveys.”

Among the findings:

  • Job growth will continue through 2025 with an accompanying drop in excess capacity.
  • Total excess capacity has dropped since 2012 and should be under 10 percent for the foreseeable future.
  • The percent of veterinary practices working at full capacity is up considerably, from 35 percent in 2012 to 50 percent in 2014.
  • Veterinary unemployment is at 3.4 percent, which is lower than the U.S. national rate of 6.1 percent and lower than even historically low unemployment levels.

No other group has studied the veterinary workforce to the extent we have, and no other group has ever produced this type of data. This information is critical if the veterinary profession is going to have informed, authoritative discussions about the state of the veterinary markets and what we can do collaboratively to improve them.

The AVMA provides valuable veterinary economics information to our members as a free member service. By visiting our Exploring Veterinary Economics webpage, you’ll find a rich collection of articles written by our Veterinary Economics Division that cover such topics as supply and demand, pricing strategies, the market for veterinary services and veterinary salaries. You’ll find topics addressed in a frank, informative way so that you can better understand the many factors at play in our profession and how they might impact the bottom line.

Our Economics & Finance webpage also provides many other member resources that we hope help you navigate the economic waters, because we understand that while compassion, caring and high-quality care keep the clients coming in the door, there’s more than that to paying the bills.

If you want to get immediate notices about what’s new across all of our veterinary economics resources, we also invite you to take advantage of our Veterinary Economics Alerts, which are designed to keep you informed about economic issues and AVMA-produced data regarding the veterinary business sector. The alerts will be delivered to your inbox hot off the presses, so sign up today at our Email Subscription Center to start receiving your alerts now.

11 thoughts on “AVMA Economic Summit: Employment picture improving

  1. Could you please comment on the life time earning capacity of a DVM vs some one who stops at the level of a BS? This is some thing I understand was discussed at the recent summit meeting and which is not mentioned in this email. The VIN news story say that young DVMs can expect to earn 500K less if they go to vet school vs stopping at the BS level.

  2. Tell that to my staff of 30 who I can’t afford to give raises to. Tell that to my 2nd year grad who makes 65k and could pay her loans if her husband wasn’t also working. Tell that to my newest hire associate who was out of work for 6 months before coming to us.

    Why don’t you accredited another 2 or 3 vet schools while you are at it? Karen Felsted at the annual VHMA meeting said we are 18 percent excess capacity in small animal practitioners and 2025 was the earliest this was expected to resolve. The picture of optimism if your trying to run a business clearly.

    • Hi Joanne–always nice to know people are paying attention when I talk! The information presented was from the 2013 Workforce Study; that was the most recent data available at the time of the VHMA meeting. AVMA presented an update at the Summit meeting in October which shows some improvement. Just wanted to clarify where “my” numbers came from and how they fit in here. Karen Felsted

  3. Laurie, thank you so much for those comments and I agree with you one hundred percent. Right after the summit the AVMA’s Veterinary Economic Strategy Committee met to develop economic research priorities for next year. I think you will be pleased to see these as they include several that relate to your concerns. The veterinary profession is a very diverse profession and we have received requests from so many of the unique constituencies in the profession to conduct studies specific to their needs. We will begin to do some of those in 2015. Our first two years were directed at getting the data and analyses in place to examine the aggregate profession and now, having made substantial progress on that effort we will begin to conduct more specific analyses on component parts. I hope you will bare with us just a little while longer as we shift gears and attempt to do more for the diverse groups within the profession.

    • Thanks for the explanation. I wish you had a solution to the problem though! It is sad to hear a colleague tell me the V in DVM is poisonous, or to have another suggest that DVM be dropped from a CV to present oneself as PhD only! While we are very well trained in medicine, that is not the perception within life science, and our knowledge and input are not invited, or accepted when offered. When the economy gets tight, even creative marketing efforts don’t seem to work. As Tony below states, we are not even called for jobs we could easily do. With these realities, it is hard to see young people choose this profession unless their only goal it to practice, which is great if that remains the goal, but if not, then what?

  4. The focus has been entirely on practice and has ignored other avenues of employment. I can attest that there are colleagues out there with advanced education (research degrees) and specialty certification who are underemployed, working in a non-related field, or remain unemployed. This is particularly true for those over 50. It is fine to tout One Health, but the reality is that others in the life sciences undervalue the knowledge that veterinarians possess, and believe our training and talents are extremely limited. We offer so much – We should not have to fight so hard to be credible!

    • Yep. DVM + PhD who can’t even get called for jobs I am easily qualified for. On what planet are this country’s economy & real unemployment improving? Not the doctored data & doctored analysis the govt does, the REAL unemployment which is 16% or so.

  5. Perhaps in any profession balance is necessary. AVMAs role to to “promote” the veterinary profession and so the title hits the most positive first but the embedded press release notes that not all is rosy. In contrast, VINs article starts with a negative but then provides a balanced view of the findings. Putting the two articles (and embedded piece) together it would appear they say exactly the same thing. More importantly, it was after all AVMA that produced all the economic information and did so openly. And, the reports, papers and articles that flow from this Summit will continue to do so, for all veterinarians.

    • I would agree with you Mike that balance is necessary. I just thought it telling that it already appears that the AVMA- not you, feel the need to gloss over the negatives here.

      I appreciate that you will be sharing the data with the AVMA members down the road, but I would also appreciate it if the AVMA would not put their slant on this already.

  6. Based on this, it looks like all things are rosy, but we know that this is not the case at the present time. Why is it the AVMA has chosen to only highlight “positives” and no mention of possible negatives here?

    How about the return on the investment in a veterinary degree?

    • Seems only people making money are those working in the Vet schools. High tuition and too many seats is great for school emplyment, terroble for the industry