As veterinarians, we do best when we make evidence-based decisions. The same holds true for us as a profession. But supply
and demand is one issue the profession is unable to address due to a lack of evidence. Do we have an oversupply of veterinarians
or under-demand? Or is it a worst-case combination of the two?
Dr. Eden Myers
In 2011, the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) concluded that " there is not currently a shortage of veterinarians
for rural food supply veterinary private practice and that the perception by veterinary schools and the public that there
continues to be a shortage of rural practitioners is leading to increased class sizes at veterinary schools and the creation
of new veterinary schools."
AABP's conclusions are supported by fundamental economic principles. In a free-market economy, service providers locate where
there is adequate incentive. Thus, we infer that a lack of veterinary presence in an area is due to a shortage of incentives—financial,
social or otherwise. For decades a different inference had been made: A lack of veterinarians in an area is due to a shortage
Dr. Ryan Gates
An increasing majority of veterinary students report not having a permanent job at graduation. The most recent in a string
of highly anticipated AVMA-commissioned workforce studies seems to confirm what so many veterinary practitioners have been
saying for years: "Market indicators suggest excess capacity at the national level to supply veterinary services. Recent trends
include falling incomes of veterinarians, falling rates of productivity and increased difficulty for new graduates to find
We submit that this has been an observable trend and that its impact over time is undeniable—the job market is changing dramatically.
We reject the notion of overcapacity and underutilization in our profession, however, as this implies the market should meet
the supply rather than the other way around.
Without objective, timely, comprehensive and relevant information, pre-vet students cannot evaluate the soundness of a career
in veterinary medicine. Without objective, timely, comprehensive and relevant information, current and graduating students
cannot construct accurate budgets that enable them to stay afloat as they begin their careers. Without objective, timely,
comprehensive and relevant information, those guiding the profession cannot know which direction to steer.
Dr. Eden Myers is a relief veterinarian in Ky. This article appears in full on her website http://justvetdata.com/. Dr. Ryan Gates is a partner at Cuyahoga Falls Veterinary Clinic in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.