Thursday, September 27, 2012

Veterinary Un and Underemployment Post

Yes, we are harping on this one.  It sticks close to home and for every vet out there that is looking for a job or struggling to keep their doors open, this is our reality.  Working for Banfield does not cut it.  Have I mentioned how each time I did relief for them, it took threats of calling an attorney to get paid?  I mean, in some cases, it took upwards of 6 weeks.  And even when I was employed by a BF "owned" by a private vet....that took me telling him he needed to write me a personal check to finally get paid.  And that is just the money thing, not the severely limited pharmacy they stock, the cook book medicine, the hard sell, the high turn over rate...etc.  I have worked in mixed animal practice, taking my own overnight call by myself, work as a GP in several practices (could only find part time, so I had to cobble together jobs), worked full time in a small emergency clinic (getting paid $30,000 less than my male counterpart even when I out produced him every freaking month), worked in a large referral/critical care place....worked all sorts of jobs.  And in my 10 years of practice, things have become worse.  Working relief, I can plainly tell you that many of the practices that are needing vets are just not good.  As in mixing steroids up with vaccines....leaving vaccines out every day.  Thinking that every cat that has urinary tract signs has an infection (ack!!!).  The good ones have little turn over.  It is like that neighborhood that everyone wants to move into, but you have to wait until someone dies to do it.  The good practices have a steady, unchanging vet staff.  Once you find that good job and that good job finds a good associate, they stick together like glue.  And the economy is slowly, slowly recovering.  However, this does not mean that the practices can grow.  In fact, many owners are letting their part time people go, so they can take the extra hours and keep their income the same.  So, this information was compiled for your perusal:

2012 JAVMA Senior Survey summary

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
October 1, 2012, Vol. 241, No. 7, Pages 890-894 doi: 10.2460/javma.241.7.890
Employment, starting salaries, and educational indebtedness of year-2012 graduates of US veterinary medical colleges Allison J. Shepherd, MBA; Laura Pikel, BS

Survey offered to 2686 (entire US CVM senior population).
2502 responded.
2501 provided debt data.
2410 looked for paying work.
1272 provided salary data.

43 took a job in public practice.
547 got a job in private practice, down 17% from 2011
-49 in food animal, down 14%
-112 in mixed, down 20.6%
-3 in equine, down 91.9%
-362 in companion animal, down 14%
727 went to advanced education (internship/residency/dual degree), down 5.7% from 2011
1093 were at odd ends.

590/2410 makes an effective employment rate of 24.5%

89.2% (2232) had debt.
92% of debt was from vet school.
Mean debt was $151,162, up 6.4% from 2011
22% had debt > $200,000

$65,998 was the mean starting salary in private practice, down 1.0% from 2011
$29,628 for those in advanced education; up 1.8% from 2011

For context, 4729 took the NAVLE, 3879 passed
4118 takers and 3653 passers were from accredited schools
as there are 2686 US seniors, 4118-2686= 1432 foreign accredited enrollment

Yes, low unemployment of vets?  I don't believe the numbers bear that out.  Grim picture for everyone that wants to be a vet?  Yes.  Down right horrifying for those about to graduate with mountains of debt and few prospects?  You bet your sweet bibby.  Unless you have a boat load of money and a sure job once you graduate, run away.  Shortly, with all of the new openings, the general IQ and scores required to get into vet school are going to go down.  It will be a luxury career for someone that is a second income to a partner.  Is that who you want seeing your pet?  When I got into vet school, there were 60 spots for 600 applicants.  If they widen that pool, does that mean that the average VCAT/GRE score and GPA goes down.  I think so.   Think long and hard AVMA, vet schools,  and large industry.  The veterinary population is begging you to sit up, take notice, and do freaking SOMETHING about this mess YOU have created.


  1. I compiled that JAVMA article summary and posted it on a couple of online forums this morning. Be nice if you attributed your information- the way the post is written it comes across as being your own work.
    As far as the rest of it- I think there are a lot of us trying to find a foothold in the profession even after years. I can't think of clearer evidence that this has been a long time in the making- we've been graduating more vets than we need for years.

    1. Sorry, Eden, I thought the link at the bottom was from your page.

  2. Let me distill this into one easily digestible factoid- 22% of you are screwed. You have >$200k debt upon graduation with salaries that topped out in 2005 or so.

    Run, don't walk away from colleges that use the phrase "vet shortage." They're trying to fill seats with paying students.

  3. It appears that 45% ( 1093/2410 ) are unemployed in this survey. Still we hear that there are areas with no DVMs & a shortage in other areas.

    Houston, we have a problem !

  4. I am VERY lucky to have gotten into my current hospital. we are a TEENY TINY hospital- as in: one doctor (not the owner of the practice- he owns 2 other practices, works most of the time in one and pops over on tuesdays only over at our place to do some surgeries), one receptionist,the office manager (who doubles as a tech when needed), myself and one other technician. END. we have a VERY dedicated client base, and we know almost everyone by name. we tend to know exactly what they're coming in for before they walk through the door. we know whats going on in their lives, and they know about us to some extent. we worry about one another, we send cards when spouses or close relatives pass away. we have NEVER fired anyone in the 5 years i've been there. we DID recently lose one of our part timers because she left to continue her education, and we're not replacing her so we can increase revenue. I've been there for 5 years, and I never plan on leaving. we are a FAMILY. and i KNOW i am lucky.

  5. Mouse you are lucky and you are a rarity, because environments like that - created and cultivated by a small business - are going away. I have that, too... a very small, hometown practice, where people ask me to treat them, too, because their own MD is too busy to get them in or they are a number, etc. I've said for a long time that the big picture that no one wants to really talk about is that we, as a profession, are feeling the downturn of our own society. It's finally affecting vet med. It's already gotten pharmacists, dentists, MDs... and now it's getting us. I feel so badly for the newer grads as they are not gonna experience vet med the way many of us have, before it becomes a corporate machine without any heart.

  6. Good, honest post. Sad and true.

  7. Great post with but one minor criticism. It is "your sweet BIPPY". Amazingly, I still remember some of the early seventies.

    1. Dude, I was not even a zygote in the early 1970's. It is amazing I could pull the phrase out of my collective consciousness.....

  8. Looking for insulation leads? Leads Bank best source of UK for insulation leads and home insulation/data insulation leads. We generate insulation leads through email & telemarketing.

  9. We generate our own Home Insulation Leads for both loft and cavity wall insulation.Leads Bank best source of UK for insulation leads and home insulation/data insulation leads.

  10. Home insulation leads is another feather on our cap! Drawing from our experience in providing a wide range of marketing leads across multiple sectors like insurance, loan etc, we have also specialised in home insulation leads.

  11. Great post!! There is much great information here. I hope this site will be rich top 1 soon. You can read more information about avma plit