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NCVEI to study learning gaps based on gender


Schaumburg, Ill. — The National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues (NCVEI) plans to tackle income disparities between male and female veterinarians.

SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — The National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues (NCVEI) plans to tackle income disparities between male and female veterinarians.

The directive comes from the American Veterinary Medical Association's (AVMA) Executive Board, which requested NCVEI explore solutions to the problem of lower professional incomes earned by female veterinarians relative to earnings by male veterinarians. The goal is to bolster the income of women, which now make up roughly 50 percent of the profession, AVMA President Dr. Henry Childers says.

AVMA's recent report on starting salaries of 2005 graduates reveals mean earnings for new male veterinarians are $45,015 versus $43,446 for female veterinarians. The study was released Oct. 15 in the association's journal. DVM Newsmagazine's 2004 gender report, which includes the entire profession, shows male veterinarians average $93,317 annually compared to female veterinarians' earnings of $65,343 a year. Additional AVMA research confirms the income gap significantly widens among more established practitioners.

"We are proud of the fact that an increasing number of veterinary school graduates are women," Childers says. "Their contributions and leadership have strengthened our profession. By exploring solutions to the income disparity between female and male practice owners, we can assure women continue to provide the highest quality of veterinary medicine to their clients."

Infancy stage

By April, Howard Rubin wants to have a proposal ready for AVMA, full of ways NCVEI can study the reported disparity. As the commission's chief executive officer, Rubin is responsible for gauging inconsistencies between male and female earnings and developing measurable ideas for closing any salary gaps.

"We just don't want to talk about this, we need to understand it and develop specific programs that have an impact," he says. "Our approach has got to be one where we can assess the outcomes. To have more discussions about generalities is not something we are well suited for. We need to measure what we do."

AVMA, American Animal Hospital Association and Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges jointly formed NCVEI in 2000 to address economic problems identified by the KPMG mega study and Brakke Consulting. Last year, the groups unanimously voted to fund the commission until March 2010, although AVMA ranks as NCVEI's largest financial backer.

On the horizon

Since its creation, NCVEI has developed interactive tools to boost veterinarians' earnings and now boasts participation with 11,000 practices. In addition to tackling gender-based income disparity, the commission soon plans to release communication tools for practitioners. Rubin expects to circulate NCVEI guidance on communication styles and techniques by the end of this year. The tools will allow veterinarians to assess their communication modes and develop ways to bolster them.

"Life-skills training is critical to making veterinarians as effective as they can be," Rubin says.

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