What is Happening to Our Profession?

by Rebecca on January 14, 2013

Golden Retriever dog digging hole

Today’s post is one that has been on my mind for a while, and quite honestly, I have been a bit scared to write it.  It is a conversation I have had with so many colleagues who feel the same way.  Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am pretty optimistic (probably to a fault), but I cannot keep denying what is right in front of me anymore.

I want to know what in the world is going on in our profession.  Why in the world are veterinary students coming out of school with a mountain of debt and dicey job prospects at best?  Beyond corporate practices, which are open 7 days a week, I do not know of a single animal hospital that is hiring a veterinarian.  Now mind you, I do live in an area close to a veterinary school, but I also serve over 50 animal hospitals, and do you know how many of them are looking to hire a full-time veterinarian? NONE!

I know there are people who graduated from veterinary school 7 months ago and are struggling to find a full time job.  I ran into one of them just last week, and thankfully, he does finally have a full time job prospect.  Unfortunately, this problem is bigger than just veterinary students and is starting to affect veterinarians coming out of specialty training programs as well.

Meanwhile, what do we hear from the veterinary schools? Oh yes, they are all deciding to increase their class sizes or have already done it.  Are you kidding me?  Are US veterinary schools that out of touch with reality that they can’t see that the light at the end of the tunnel is actually an oncoming train?  What will it take for them to see that we have a very serious problem developing in veterinary medicine?

Nothing personal against my alma mater, NC State, but I was visiting a friend who works there the other day, and we went into the junior surgery lab.  It looks very different than it did when I was a student.

Now each surgical bay has a large screen monitor (like 42 inches) on the wall and a laptop.  I asked my friend, “Why do they have all this in a junior surgery lab?”  She said, “Well, you know we must keep up with all the other veterinary schools.”  My thought was, “well we know whose back that is on”-the poor veterinary students.  I am all for improved learning and technology, but really, when is someone going to stand up and say ENOUGH ALREADY!

I was talking to a college student this morning, and she was contemplating veterinary school.  I told her as much as I love being a veterinarian, I am not sure I would recommend that she go to veterinary school.  The amount of debt these young veterinarians must endure on top of limited job prospects and probably decreasing salaries is going to create a perfect storm of not good!

I believe a lot of people in positions of influence either have their heads in the sand on this issue or don’t want to speak up, but I think we can no longer deny what is happening before our eyes.

 So what is your take on this perfect storm that is brewing, and what should we do to solve this daunting problem in our profession?

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