Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
My son is a 15-year-old high school student who excels in the sciences and adores animals. With those basic qualifications and a veterinarian for a mother, it makes sense that he might consider veterinary medicine as a career path. Which most parents would consider a wonderful thing, right?
Increasingly, however, it appears many veterinarians don’t share the same warm fuzzy feelings toward their profession. Not where their kids are concerned, anyway. Seems we’ve turned curmudgeonly on a subject that once saw us preaching enthusiastically to schools everywhere on becoming a veterinarian. So much so that you’ll find far fewer of us offering vet-happy career-day talks — our own kids’ classrooms included.
I’ve long suspected veterinarians harbored such evolving concerns about the profession’s direction, but when the online Veterinary Information Network (VIN) News Service published an article describing the “spur or deter” conundrum, I knew for sure the tipping point had come and gone.
The article — titled “Advising Aspiring Veterinarians: Spur or Deter?” — advances the notion that many veterinarians no longer consider their profession a hospitable place to enter. That we increasingly question whether we should “spur” on new veterinary candidates or “deter” them from seeking degrees as veterinary doctors.
And the acid test for such sentiments includes our own kids as litmus paper. After all, if we as veterinarians wouldn’t recommend the profession to our children, what does that say about the state of veterinary medicine?
When asked by VIN to explain their rationale, veterinarians cited economics as the overriding complaint. In particular, the staggering ratio of income to debt was most often cited. That’s the statistic that typically examines the amount of debt saddling the average recent graduate relative to his starting salary so it can be compared to that of other professions.
Veterinarians, it turns out, graduate with a mean of almost $152,000 in debt. Meanwhile, their mean starting salary is just over $65,000. It’s a ratio that compares poorly to that of other health professionals, and one financial planners have ominously labeled “precarious.” New graduates, for their part, find it a tough ratio to live with, leading plenty to second-guess following their veterinary aspirations.
Indeed, asked whether they’d do it all over again in 2013, I’d wager well over 50 percent of my colleagues would consider heading elsewhere to make their way in the world. Such are the challenges we observe on behalf of the younger generations entering the profession.
Which is a terrible thing to say. As a veterinarian, it’s an even more depressing thing to contemplate. But worse still, I’d imagine, is being a 20-year-old pre-vet student with a skull full of hope who has just received a long list of reasons why he really doesn’t want to pursue the profession he has felt called to his whole life. Now that’s terrible!
As a veterinarian who graduated 20 years ago with well over $100,000 in debt (some of it in credit cards!) and an income-to-debt ratio just shy of the current average, I feel I’m well poised to protest anyone’s discouragement of the veterinary profession based on economics alone. Here’s why:
1. Since when was money considered the primary motivation for becoming a veterinarian, anyway? Where does the long list of rewarding reasons for becoming a veterinarian figure in this discussion?
2. It's a waste of energy to persuade anyone to abandon what's typically a lifelong goal. As a kid, I was told vet school was way too competitive for me to expect to gain entry. All that negativity was wasted on me.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
After Bailey warned Randy Bova about
the fire by barking frantically, she hid in
her crate and Bova had to save her.
Being in confined spaces can lead to
problematic dog behaviors like fear and
barking. Fortunately, you can change…
Meet a dozen cat and dog "foster failures"
who were adopted by their temporary
owners and given homes for…
There are many mistaken beliefs about
neutering, itchy ears, litterbox habits,
parasite prevention and more.
Get expert advice on keeping pets safe
during fireworks, barbecues, hot weather
and other Independence Day hazards.
The medium-size Mudi is a sheepdog
who tends to make an intelligent, active
and easy-to-groom companion.
Parasites are no fun for dogs. Learn how
to protect your canine from heartworms,
hookworms, whipworms and more.
A dog diagnosed with the dangerous parasite may have to take antibiotics, get drug injections and stop exercising.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
Visit HealthyPet magazine for interviews with pet-loving celebrities, health advice from our experts, training tips and…
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.