This article about the rising debt and fewer job options for new veterinarians appeared in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago. It brought to the forefront, what I believe are the rumblings I have been hearing for some time. The new graduate in the article was a Ross University graduate who had $312,000 of debt, which is definitely completely over the top, but I also know that the vast majority of new veterinarians are coming out of school with over $150,000.
After reading this story, I reviewed the 2012 AVMA new graduate survey and found some startling information. In the survey, they found that starting salaries in 2012 were $65, 404 (down 1.6 percent from the average starting salary of $66,469 in 2011). At the time of the 2012 survey, 61.5 percent of veterinary students seeking a position in 2012 received an offer of employment or advanced education, down from 74.3 percent in 2011 and 78.9% in 2010 (down 17.4% in 2 years.)
The average student debt for the 89.2 percent of veterinary students who reported that they expected to have debt at the time of their graduation was $151,672, up 6.4 percent from $142,613 in 2011. The general guideline is that your debt should never be more than twice your staring salary, yet many people are likely bordering on three times their starting salary.
Closer to home, a friend of mine who works at a high quality hospital in the Raleigh-Durham area recently advertised for an associate veterinarian position and received over 300 applicants!
These numbers are completely unsustainable.
Veterinary medicine has a serious problem that is going to quickly come to a head, and it is going to affect all of us. How are these new graduates ever going to be able to pay off their debt, save for retirement or ever by your practice? With the dramatic rise of women in our profession, what about women who decide that they want to work part-time? Working part-time when you have over $150,000 of student debt is not going to be an option.
What is it going to take to slow down the increasing enrollment at veterinary schools across the country? What should we do about all the veterinary schools they are planning to open in the United States (Buffalo, New York, and potentially two in Arizona?)
I have my own opinions about what we should be doing differently in order to change what is going on in veterinary medicine, but I want to get your opinions, so please weigh in below and let’s get this conversation started today!
What do you think the current trends will do to our profession?
Most importantly, what do you see as possible solutions for the overabundance of veterinarians, the skyrocketing debt, and the falling salaries?