Money worries rank high for most veterinarians

Article

Veterinarians worry about money.

Veterinarians worry about money.

According to an exclusive DVM Newsmagazine survey, almost two-thirds (62 percent) of veterinarian respondents say they worry about having enough money. The other 38 percent of practitioners say they "have enough to live comfortably" (Table 1).

Table 1 Which of these choices describes you best?

The results were part of an exclusive DVM Newsmagazine survey that was mailed to 2,500 veterinarians in the United States, and it posted 844 useable responses. The survey achieved a 34-percent response rate. (See demographic profile, p. 22.) Last month, the series focused on work/life balance (p. 16), and the October issue confronted ownership aspirations and career satisfaction among men and women (p. 1).

Results presented here address compensation and benefits. Importantly, the survey asked veterinarians "how they feel" about their personal financial footing. Some gender differences emerge.

For example, about 42 percent of men say they have "enough money to live comfortably," while 33 percent of women say the same. Keep in mind the composition of the survey sample. Men were more likely to be owners of practices. Women were more likely to be in an associate-level position.

When looking at position in practice, about 31 percent of associate female veterinarians say they have enough money to live comfortably. Among female practice owners, only 38 percent say they have enough money to live comfortably. For men, about 43 percent of owners report they have enough money to live comfortably, while only 28 percent of male associates say the same. In turn, the remaining 72 percent of male-associate respondents say they worry about having enough money.

The survey sought to measure what was causing veterinarians the most significant financial angst. "Retire some day" rated overwhelming the highest of all categories for both sexes. Ninety-one percent of men rated it the highest, and so did 86 percent of women. Only 44 percent of respondents are in a practice-sponsored 401K.

For more immediate financial concerns, women were more fearful of potential calamity. Categories with high rankings included paying off debt (women ranked it substantially higher), paying for children's college, paying the bills, buying into a practice or buying a house. (See Table 2.)

Table 2 What do you worry about?

Some other findings include:

  • Owners/partners are more likely to worry about having enough money to retire compared to associate veterinarians, who worry about paying off their children's college, paying off debt or buying into a practice.

  • Respondents who are single are more likely to worry about having enough money compared to those who are married.

  • Respondents older than 40 and those who have been in practice more than 11 years are more likely to worry about having enough money to retire than those who are younger or have been in practice fewer years (although it remains a concern).

  • Owners/partners were more likely to say they have enough money to live comfortably compared to associate veterinarians.

  • Responding veterinarians who make more than $80,000 a year are more likely to report having enough money to live comfortably compared to veterinarians who make less money per year.

  • Younger respondents, in practice 10 years or less, are more likely to worry about having enough money than those who are older or in practice longer.

Compensation

According to this

DVM Newsmagazine

survey, men are winning the compensation race, hands down.

But not without some caveats on this issue of income disparity. First, it's difficult to draw conclusions due to the multitude of factors that could influence take-home pay for owners, partners and associates. Important factors could include tax filing status, hours worked, production-based compensation, incentives, capital investments, location, experience, etc. While wage disparity occurs, this survey also shows that 57 percent of respondents believe their compensation is fair.

Here are other findings:

  • Total average compensation: $82,120

Male average: $93,317

Female average: $65,343

  • By owner:

Female practice owner: $73,530

Male practice owner: $95,029

  • By associate:

Female associate: $60,192

Male associate: $79,243

  • By experience:

Women with less than 10 years in practice: $59,036

Men with less than 10 years in practice: $76,421

Women 11-20 years in practice: $67,760

Men 11-20 years in practice: $92,505

Women 21-plus years in practice: $77,745

Men 21-plus years in practice: $97,823

Overall, married respondents reported that their total annual compensation is more than those who are single. Interestingly, female respondents who don't have children less than age 18 make more per year than female respondents who do have young children. However, male respondents with children less than age 18 reported higher annual compensation compared to those who don't have young children.

Veterinarians also were asked about their feelings regarding compensation. In total, 57 percent thought it was fair, while 43 percent said it was too low.

Table 3 compensation

Men were more likely to respond that compensation was fair, but remember: They took home more money overall. Almost half of women respondents cited their compensation was too low. Is it a sign of discontent? For women, position in practice (associate vs. owner/partner) was not much of a variable to the sentiment. Women's responses were statistically consistent. Male associates, on the other hand, were more likely to gripe that their pay was too low when compared to male practice owners.

Table 4 How do you feel about compensation package?

Benefits

About 37 percent of respondents receive health insurance policies through veterinary practices. Almost one-third (29 percent) of the respondents pay for it themselves; 21.4 percent receive it through their spouses' employers, 11 percent through association memberships, and only 2 percent say they don't have health insurance.

Owners or partners (36 percent) are more likely to pay for their own policies, whereas only 13 percent of associates are forced to do the same. About 44 percent of associate veterinarians receive health insurance through the practice. Another 34 percent of associate veterinarian respondents are covered through their spouses' employers.

When these data are split by gender (Table 5,), more women are gaining access to health insurance from their spouses' employer, while 36 percent of men say they pay for it themselves.

Table 5 who provides your health insurance?

Generally, the larger the practice, the more likely veterinarians will gain health insurance through the practice. The numbers are directly proportional to number of full-time equivalents.

Consider this:

Health insurance provided by the practice:

One FTE: 21 percent

Two FTEs: 39 percent

Three FTEs: 46 percent

Four-plus FTEs: 56 percent

Health insurance paid by the veterinarian:

One FTE: 43 percent

Two FTEs: 26 percent

Three FTEs: 20 percent

Four-plus FTEs: 16 percent.

About 32 percent of female practitioners are receiving health insurance through her husband's employer; meanwhile, 36 percent of male veterinarians are paying for the insurance policies themselves (Table 5).

Table 6 What benefits do you receive?

Other benefits commonly cited by respondents include continuing education, malpractice insurance, vacation/personal days, medical, 401k, dental and other. (See Table 6)

Practice characteristics methodology

Owners/partners say they are more likely to receive malpractice insurance as a benefit, while associate veterinarians say they receive vacation/personal days and 401k benefits.

Series took &a lot of help from our friends&

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