Letter to the editor: AVMA says any solutions to veterinary "supply and demand" problem are premature

Was it premature of veterinary consultant Mark Opperman to ask associations to solve the problems of the veterinary profession? Read the AVMA's response here.
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Sep 23, 2013
By dvm360.com staff

Was it premature of veterinary consultant Mark Opperman to ask associations to solve the problems of the veterinary profession? Read the AVMA's response here.

I read with interest Mark Opperman's blog “Professional veterinary associations should step up,” published Aug. 19 on dvm360.com, and I would like to add some perspective from the American Veterinary Medical Association’s point of view.

We understand the frustration that some feel about the current economic situation. However, a simplistic call to action to try to resolve this complex challenge at this point is premature, not unlike a veterinarian diagnosing a problem by viewing a pet from afar.

Excess capacity contains three components: The potential supply of veterinary services, the potential demand for veterinary services, and the price that determines the quantity of services that veterinarians are willing to provide and that consumers are willing to purchase. We do know that these three factors have led to roughly 26 million hours of potential veterinary time to be idled. But is it too much supply, too little demand or are prices set too high?

The AVMA Economics Division has laid out an ambitious research agenda to determine the relative importance of the various factors involved in creating excess capacity. Much of the data needed for this analysis will be collected from veterinarians. Getting the most complete data as soon as possible is paramount to developing appropriate strategies for helping the profession bring excess capacity to an acceptable level.

We have provided additional information about supply and demand for AVMA members in a number of articles published on our website. By reading these articles, we believe veterinarians will become more familiar with the economic concepts and measurements that affect the veterinary profession.

Michael Dicks, PhD

Director of Veterinary Economics Division

American Veterinary Medical Association