It's time we pulled our heads out of the sand and talked about the sad state of the veterinary industry.
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 are veterinary students coming out of school with a mountain of debt and dicey job prospects at best? Now, mind you, I live in an area close to a veterinary school, but I also serve more than 50 animal hospitals. Do you care to know how many of them are looking to hire a full-time veterinarian? Beyond corporate practices, none!
"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 ... " GETTY IMAGES / STEVE COLE
I know veterinarians who graduated seven months ago still struggling to find a full-time job. I ran into one of them just last week, and thankfully, he finally has a prospect. Unfortunately, this problem is much 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 U.S. veterinary schools so out of touch with reality that they can't see 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?
I was visiting a friend who works at North Carolina State and we went into the junior surgery lab. Nothing personal against my alma mater, but it looks very different than it did when I was a student.
Now each surgical bay has a large screen monitor (something 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, "You know we must keep up with all the other veterinary schools." My thought was, We know whose back that is on—the poor veterinary students. I mean, I'm all for improved learning and technology, but when is someone going to stand up and say enough already?
I was actually just talking to a college student, and she was contemplating going to veterinary school. I told her as much as I love being a veterinarian, I'm not sure I would recommend it. The amount of debt you must endure on top of limited job prospects and probably decreasing salaries will 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 we can no longer deny what's happening before our eyes.
What's your take on the storm that's currently brewing? What should we do to solve this daunting problem in our profession? Sound off and join the discussion at dvm360.com/professionproblems.
Dr. Rebecca Tudor, DACVS, established and currently works at Tarheel Veterinary Surgical Specialists in Louisburg, N.C. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.